Background: CS Undergraduate applying to CS PhD (USA)

I am involved in a review paper as a 2nd author. The review paper is of a very high quality and most likely will get accepted in a journal with a high impact factor. There will be 2 other authors who are both Co P.I. s of the project.

Question: Does that hold any weightage in front of a PhD Admit Panel?

Note: The paper length is around 30 double columned pages so ample research is covered and future prospects are suggested in depth.

  • I ask this because I have come across a few people saying that review papers aren't that impressive (on the CV) as there is generally nothing novel in it.
    – Academic
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 2:31
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    It's not that review papers are less impressive, it's that they are less relevant to what you will do as a PhD student. You can't get a PhD by writing review papers. A PhD is for original research. Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 4:49
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    @AnonymousPhysicist to further your comment, I would like to show a diametrally opposite view: I would consider a big plus a (good) review paper: from an undergrad willing to be a PhD, it means he is already updated about the latest developments. A student is a student, what is the point of enrolling into a PhD program someone that can already do research? (I mean, I see the point, easy publications for the PI, but that's not exactly the idea about a PhD student being ... a student!)
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 10:43
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    @EarlGrey "what is the point of enrolling into a PhD program someone that can already do research?" PhD students are there to be low-paid scientific staff. They are not there to learn. I would prefer this were not true and I try not to enable it, but it is how the system works currently in the fields I am most familiar with. Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 23:09
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    @AnonymousPhysicist I agree about the "state-of-art" of PhDs ... unfortunately I can only fight it by pointing at some criticalities of the selection processes. Someday, someone smart enough will propose a coherent framework to effectively change the system. Someone like Lenin 4.0, for example.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


Yes, it holds a weight. How much? it depends on the sensibility of the Panel, if no hard-rules are set.

Maybe 0.5 times the weight of a regular paper, because it is missing the novelty? Or maybe 1.5 times the weight of a regular paper, because if you took part in the review, then you already are updated about the State-of-Art on the topic and it can be very relevant to your PhD? In absence of hard rules, it depends strongly on how you frame it. Be smart.

Then of course it has not much weight in the CV, if it is a 10 years old review paper: in 10 years the SoA changed a lot ... and if did not change much, you can publish an update of the same review paper, updating the content.

  • Thank you very much for this answer. This is exactly what I was looking for.
    – Academic
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 3:40

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