I have around two months before the application deadline to a masters program in humanities, and I want to increase my approval chances. I don't have papers in the program major (got one paper in mathematics though), but I already have enough material for a short article.

So I wonder if there is a way to improve my admission letter by listing a publication in a subject close to the major. Is preprint (via some analog of arxiv.org) the best I can have within the time limit?

  • 3
    I don't know about humanities but in the area of Computer Science, conferences will often have a review turnaround of around two months. Though it might not be published for a while thereafter, it is sufficient for a paper to be accepted for it to be listed in an application. (Journal turnarounds would generally tend to be slower.)
    – badroit
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 21:15
  • This will be very field dependent. In mathematics, there'd be no hope of getting a paper accepted, let alone published, in this time frame. On the other hand, having a paper submitted and a preprint available would be worth quite a bit. Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 15:56
  • @badroit, suppose I don't wish to attend a particular conference, I just want my thesis accepted & published, is it a bad tone generally?
    – modular
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 17:49
  • Again this might be field specific, but in computer science, it is typically mandatory for at least one author of the paper to attend the conference and to the present the work: note that the core purpose of a conference is to offer a venue for presentations and discussions of early-to-mid-term work. Oftentimes conference organisers will threaten to withhold the paper from publishing if nobody attends.
    – badroit
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


Journal review times in the humanities tend to be longish and I doubt that you'd have a paper accepted in a journal of sufficient quality to impress anybody. (I just got back yesterday a round of comments from a paper I submitted in September.) If I were you, I'd maybe try to submit a paper to a graduate conference instead. Look around for Ph.D. granting programs in your field in the area and send them a paper/abstract. It's much less work for you to write up an abstract, and a much higher likelihood of actually getting something accepted in a reasonable timeframe. An undergrad getting something into a grad conference is probably sufficient to make the committees think you've got potential as a researcher. Maybe it isn't quite as impressive to have a presentation as a publication, but I doubt that'd be a big factor here. To get accepted to a grad program, you just have to get past a threshold of potential, and doing something that puts you way, way above that threshold (publication in a reputable professional journal) just isn't really any more helpful to getting accepted than doing something that just barely puts you above that threshold (a grad conference presentation).

One exception here: if you have a paper or something that one of your profs was just raving about and told you that you just have to publish it in Such And Such Journal, then yeah, maybe shoot it off, but don't expect it to get picked up in time to make a difference in your apps.

  • Agree with this. Papers for humanities/social sciences in what are now being listed as quality journals can take ages with review. I waited 6 months before I got comments back on a paper for social science.
    – awsoci
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 1:57

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