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While using a search engine for student theses I noticed a footnote at the bottom of page saying

After a thesis is published on the HSE website, it obtains the status of an online publication.

So what is precisely an online publication and how it differs from a "real" publication or a preprint? Can you include it in your CV? Is it going to be treated seriously?

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  • This is very field-specific. In my field (computer science), we don't care if and how your thesis was published. If you want credit for your thesis, you need to publish an associated paper in a peer-reviewed conference or journal. In contrast, in book fields (like history), the publisher of the PhD thesis might be very important. Nov 1 '20 at 9:43
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While of recent vintage, HSE seems to be very reputable. "Online publication" means that the paper appears on a web site, rather than in print. Whether the site will be maintained in perpetuity or not is a possible issue, but probably not a problem in this case. Online Publication might also mean not yet in print rather than never in print.

But yes, you can include such a thing in a CV and from a reputable publisher, such as HSE, it will be taken seriously.

A "preprint" might be something published by its authors, rather than by a publisher, though some publishers also provide preprints. But having the mark of a publisher, and perhaps its reviewers, makes the validity of the publication clearer.


At the suggestion of Paul Garrett, let me add. Normal publication (both print and online) involves the review of the paper by a few experienced professionals in the field. They normally make suggestions for improvement for the paper and it is only after some revision, small or large, that the editor/journal will "publish" the paper.

"Preprints" are normally done either without or prior to this review. If the author "publishes" the paper, then likely there was no review. The intent of preprints from reputable publishers is to give early access to ideas while the review process proceeds.

When done by authors, as is typical in math, while there is no "imprimatur" of a publisher and its reviewers, the nature of the subject tends to make it a bit risky for an author to put up junk as a preprint. This might be different in other fields that have different standards of truth and value.

But it is the review itself, along with the reputation of the publisher that gives "lasting value" to a publication. I'm assuming here that HSE uses a typical review process prior to "online publication". If not, then it would be full of "junk economics" lowering their own reputation.

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    In this context I suspect that "publication" here may be used in the broader sense of "a publicly available work" rather than the usual academic sense. (Cf. similar usage from other institutes 1, 2. 3)
    – jnanin
    Nov 3 '20 at 15:56
  • @jnanin, I thought of that also, but then it becomes essentially worthless as a concept. Anyone can build a website and "publish" whatever they like. There is no "status of" implied by that.
    – Buffy
    Nov 3 '20 at 16:01
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    Given that the students can choose not to make the thesis publicly available at all, I think the "status of online publication" can simply mean there is a public version of record of the thesis. The site also uses the verb "to publish" in this sense: "Summaries of all theses must be published and made freely available on the HSE website. The full text of a thesis can be published in open access on the HSE website only if ...".
    – jnanin
    Nov 3 '20 at 16:38

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