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My advisor has suggested that I write a survey paper. I am concerned because neither my advisor nor I are know for, or are knowledgeable in, the topic my advisor is suggesting. We would be starting completely from scratch. I am concerned this will be an exercise in futility as our combined lack of experience would make our credentials questionable at best and make publishing our work in a quality journal either hard or not possible. Even if we can create a publishable work, I am concerned about how many PhD students undertake such a project. From my (admittedly) limited experience it seems like survey papers require an exorbitant amount of time and may not offer as high of a return on investment as research papers can for PhD students. I am in the computer science PhD program at my school if that helps. Are my concerns irrational? What are the pros and cons of a PhD student writing a summary paper? Thank you!

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  • Is the suggested topic relevant for your PhD thesis? – Snijderfrey Jan 5 at 20:50
  • yes, it is relevant – b19wh33l5 Jan 5 at 20:55
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In my field survey papers are highly cited. If the same is true in your field than the low chance of success may be ofset by the high reward if you succeed.

Regardless, you need an overview of what has happend in your field concerning your thesis. Making it an article forces you to really think through the relationships between the articles. For me it is quite common for me to read articles and think "well, it is kinda like that" and when I force myself to sit down and really write that argument down it does not work. So even if your overview does not get published, it is still a great investment in your subsequent articles. And who knows, maybe you are lucky.

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