Academic job applications often require one to submit a few recent papers in the application. I have been a postdoc for the past couple of years and my role has primarily been advising: coming up with research problems for the PhD students and guiding/helping them to write a good research paper. As such many of my recent and current papers have a student as the first author, with me as the second author (or third author in the event that I am advising two students on the project).

Is it okay to submit some of these papers as part of my application? Or will it look bad since I am not the first author?

  • 1
    "I've published so many good papers that, when a job advertisement calls for sample papers to be attached to an application, I have to agonize over which ones to choose" really sounds like the sort of problem one wants to have. Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 21:03
  • When I did a similar post-doc many moons ago, I made sure to have my own work on the side (so to speak). Nothing you can do about that now, but I at least ended up with a few first-author papers in addition to all the student ones.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 22:34
  • This really depends on the employer and also the field of research. Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 4:01
  • I agree with most of the others. I can only say that you should make clear that you were supervising, in the CV or, ideally, shorting during the interview. You don't have to be necessarily papers specific, but it must be clear that your 2 y post-doc was productive. Somehow I disagree with the opening of the answer you have accepted.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 7:51

2 Answers 2


If I were in your situation, I would just show the ones from grad school that were first author. You should have a few from the last year or two of the degree and they may have even come out after you left.

I would not enclose the non-FA papers. Don't open that box. (But of course show them on your CV, since that has everything.)

And I would not have spent a postdoc, not getting recent first author papers. As you can see they would be desirable, now.

Of course, if you get to an interview and are asked about it, have a practiced poised answer ready. [Standard interview prep for any job interview is to write out 2-3 sentence canned answers for anticipated questions. Especially important for weak areas, since you just want to give a forthright but short answer and move on. And if you think about it ahead of time, this works much better.] But don't enclose as select examples, work where you were not FA, if at all possible.

When they ask for select papers to attach, they probably just mean a couple. Won't read more than that. So use selection and pick the best ones. And those are not going to be second author ones if first author ones are available. In other words, when they ask for your recent work, there are two conditions: "your" and "recent". And (I assert) "your" is the more fundamental, important criterion.

And of course if you don't have any FA papers even from grad school, enclose what you have. It's not ideal. But it's what you got. So just plow ahead.

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    If you are applying for a job where you will supervise researchers, not including any papers where you supervised research would be a terrible mistake. Since the question does not specify the type of job, this answer could be correct or could be wrong. Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 4:04

Every paper published by a reputable publisher is a good paper and should be on the CV. Advising students who rightly have first authorship is also a good thing. In some fields, advisors aren't co-authors no matter the input on student papers.

It think it a mistake to leave such things off of the CV. In fact, somewhere in your application materials you might want to explain that you were advisor to the other author(s) on the papers. Probably not in the CV itself, but a statement of purpose for an academic job will benefit from indicating a willingness and history of advancing student research and careers.

I assume you know your own field's standards, but in some, people assume that the last author did the work and the others were along for the ride. I dislike that sort of thing, actually. But a faculty position in most places is more than just a heads-down-don't-bother-me researcher.

Edited to add. Including the papers themselves as separate from CV references is a bit different. The first suggestion is to ask first. The second, in the absence of guidance, would be to include a mixture, with mostly first author papers, but a sample of the others. But an explanation of the situation on the latter should be fine.

  • 5
    I don't think the question is about the CV (or possibly separate list of publications), but the more limited number of papers that can be attached to the application directly..
    – Anyon
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 19:13
  • Thank you for the answer. These papers will definitely be on my CV. My question is concerned with the part of the application that requests me to attach a few sample papers. I plan to indicate my advising role on the cover letter and/or research statement, but I'm unsure if attaching non first author papers will be satisfactory for fulfilling whatever information the hiring committee is trying to gather from the "sample papers." My field is electrical engineering and computer science.
    – jonem
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 19:14
  • Perhaps you should ask. Possibly a mixture of things, along with an explanation. But asking first might be the best course.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 19:22

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