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I’m a fourth year undergrad majoring in math at a university in the US. I’ve been working independently on an elementary graph theory problem for a while and I’ve found some nice results. It’s not revolutionary, but based on some research I don’t think anyone has looked at this problem before and it seems interesting. I intend to apply for PhD programs in Theoretical Computer Science. While I do have some research experience with a couple of professors (that should hopefully lead to decent recommendation letters) and a strong academic record in math and computer science, I don’t have any publications. Would I benefit from publishing my graph theory work in an undergraduate research journal, or do only regular journals count? I appreciate any comments, thank you!

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  • "Would I benefit from publishing my graph theory work in an undergraduate research journal, or do only regular journals count?" Are you choosing between an UG journal and a regular journal? Jul 28 at 23:22
  • Nope, while I feel my result is interesting, I don’t think it’s deep enough to get accepted to a regular journal.
    – user143288
    Jul 29 at 0:32
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As someone who has sat on multiple admissions committees at the PhD level, any sort of peer-reviewed publication is viewed highly positively in the decision-making process. That said, undergraduate-focused journals are viewed as having a lower barrier to entry relative to regular (non-UG focused) journals, which is a proxy for the strength of the findings presented in the publication. Depending on your timeline, you could try a regular journal first and if it gets rejected, then try a UG-focused one. If your timeline is tighter for the applications, I would go straight to the UG-focused one.

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In the US, everything counts. So, yes, it would be a positive thing to do this and list it on your CV if accepted.

Graduate admissions (doctoral) is very broad based and takes in to account many things. What a committee is looking for is clear evidence of the high likelihood of success of admitted students. Doing undergraduate research is a definite plus and having a publication to show for it is even better.

Doctoral admissions can be very competitive and few undergraduates have very much if any research experience. Fewer can show a publication.

Also, get a letter of recommendation from whoever advises/guides you on the project. Letters are also very important. As Azor Ahai suggests (I think), a regular journal would be better if you can get accepted. Talk to your advisor about tradeoffs here, including likely time to publication.

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