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I know this question has been asked before, but I didn't find it asked by a UG student.

I'm a senior undergrad student, and I want to start communicating with professors in Canada and the US in order to get a funded MSc position for fall 2021.

Being an undergrad, I haven't published any papers. However, this summer I've been working as a research assistant intern, and our project has reached an state where I've started to write the actual paper as the first author. Unfortunately, the paper is not likely to be ready for when I'll be trying to find an advisor, but I think since it is my one and only research experience, and it has reached the state of being publishable, it should be included in my CV!

So, what do you think I should do?

  • Add my time as an intern as a "research experience" with some explanation about the paper?

  • Add the paper in a separate section in my CV?

  • Something else?

Thanks in advance!

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  • Is it common in your target field/universities/location to get positions by directly contacting a professor? If you first have to make a formal application, you could perhaps also request your internship advisor to write a recommendation letter that mentions this upcoming work and explains your contributions.
    – GoodDeeds
    Aug 7, 2020 at 21:25

2 Answers 2

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If a paper is sufficiently far along in the draft stage, it's common to include the paper in your CV, mentioning that it is "in prep." i.e. in preparation. However, I would caution against doing this if the draft is not very far advanced -- the "in prep" signals that the paper will be finished and submitted to a journal soon, and it will look a bit dodgy if it isn't. Similarly, although this doesn't exactly apply to your situation, one published paper on a CV is worth much more than even two or three "in prep". The supervisor of your current project will be best placed to advise you if it's ready to mention on a CV, and hopefully they will be writing you a reference letter which highlights your contributions too.

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Make sure you really understand how admissions works at the places you intend to apply to. Most undergraduates are admitted via an admissions committee in the US, not by a professor - except perhaps in some lab sciences. There is normally coursework before serious dissertation research begins, and almost certainly there are qualifying exams to be passed. There are exceptions, but make sure you know the rules.

That said, you can always have a section on the CV for "current projects", or "work is process" with a name for the project, rather than a title for a possible future publication. A sentence or two of description is fine. How much it "counts" will be up to the reader, of course.

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