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I am working as software developer in a company. I had filed one patent and published one research paper. I want to apply for Master's in a top university (like NUS at Singapore or German universities) next year. I am working on some new IOT projects and deep learning ideas. What is more beneficial to get admission in Master's at a top university: A Patent or a research paper on an idea/project?

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  • This is not an exclusive or, but order matters: you could go for the patent first, and then publish a paper as well. May 22 at 18:31
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The best answer, I think, given so little information, is "it depends". But for things of equal quality (however that might be measured) a paper might hold a bit more weight, given that academia is more about ideas (papers) than products (patents). The specific university department, however, might have its own ideas about the balance.

There is also some controversy about software patents, that you are probably aware of.

But it is quality and innovation that will be the important consideration for most.

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A patent won't matter to many universities or degrees, but to technical ones of course it might be quite impressive, particularly if it turns out to be a key innovation for a relevant sector. Assuming patents matter at all, there is no one answer to your question. But there are many factors to consider:

  • Having more than one kind of contribution, showing flexibility is often good, so well done so far. I mention this here for others who might not already have one each.
  • Now that you do have one of each, you should look at quality, not just quantity. How good of a paper? Where was it published? How many authors are on the patent? You might see a way to strengthen your credentials in one of those areas.
  • What kind of degree programme are you trying to get into? Could another paper or another patent illuminate more or different of your relevant strengths to that programme than your previous output?
  • Finally, don't forget that your present employer can matter a lot, not only if you don't get into the programmes you want, but also for letters of reference. So if it seems like a coin flip to you, ask your boss which they would prefer you to work on.
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Both are good ways of showing your talents and productivity. However, something to keep in mind is that a patent often takes 2-4 years to get approved from the time a patent application is submitted. Until then, it is just an application, and difficult if not impossible for academic departments looking at your CV to evaluate (more so than an academic preprint, the analogous thing in the context of journal publications).

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