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I have been working on a graduate level research project, with the bonus of being listed as a co-author if I make a significant contribution (which I likely will). I am still an undergraduate, but have significant experience (professional and educational) in the field.

My question is: Is this a big deal? If I go to grad school in that field, would this allow me to obtain a PhD quicker?

What if I don't go to grad school, but choose to work in the field, would being listed as co-author on a research project of this level hold enough weight to warrant listing on my resume?

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It doesn't exactly "allow you to get a Ph.D quicker". However, you would have more experience in academic writing than if you hadn't contributed to the writing in the paper. Writing a paper isn't just "writing" a report - a lot of analysis, interpretation, and technical work goes into papers and these are skills you want to have as a Ph.D student. Being a co-author on a paper will make your application stand out.

If you go into any job, you can list this as a project that you have worked on. If you are familiar with the contents of the paper, then you can talk about it as if it was another project that you've worked on. Having your name on the paper is verifiable and can look pretty impressive especially if you are familiar with the details.

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It won't let you get a PhD quicker, but it will improve your chances of getting into PhD programs. It will also give you valuable experience in the process of writing a paper and getting it published. This could result in you publishing more papers during your grad school career (because you'll be better at it), which could improve your chances of getting a desirable job after you finish your PhD.

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The benefit will hopefully be that you get to learn how to prepare and write a scientific paper. If you continue to graduate school then having been involved at this level will obviously be a positive. If you are not planning to continue with research you will still benefit from learning the process since academic writing is something you will likely continue doing in a professional role. In addition you will have some insights into how papers are written which may help you read and assess papers and reports. Since communication through written reports is key for any academic work this will be of use to you. It may not count for very much when applying for a job but you should also consider the skills you will improve when taking part in such a process.

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