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For my undergraduate project, we created an application that provided a bunch of features for small companies to analyze their target customers and public opinions. It was opinion mining of social media networks basically. Halfway through the project, our advisor asked us to compile the work in a paper and publish it in Springer/IEEE conferences or journals. However, we are not required by the university to do this. We never intended to indulge ourselves in academia, publishing papers and what not. We just used a basic LSTM network, used existing datasets for the sentiment analysis part of the project. We did a simple comparison of models like BiLSTM and vanilla LSTM though. Our project is basically a product.

Despite telling them that the project we have done is quite trivial and no top journal will accept it (which is what I think anyway), they are insisting (or better, hell-bent) on writing a paper. The team is also going separate ways and work at companies starting next week, so we won't have time to work with this anyway. Where should I go from here?

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  • Your confidence is notable! Though the effort and results might not seem worthwhile to you, there's much to learn simply by the process of constructing a paper, and maybe that's what your advisor has in mind. Aug 6, 2021 at 19:10
  • Can there be any bad consequences from just telling the advisor that you won't have time for elaborating this to paper standard (or even making any contribution beyond what you have already done)? If not, just tell them. (In fact I agree with the answer of @Arno that it may in principle be worthwhile to do a paper and be it for a lower level journal, so I wouldn't try to actively stop it from happening as long as it doesn't use much of your time, however you have the right to not be interested.) Aug 6, 2021 at 20:19
  • Need advice? The more straightforward answer is consult your advisor. For the rest politely says no. The situation seems making you free of all obligations
    – Alchimista
    Aug 7, 2021 at 10:29

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You are allowed to just say no!

Assuming that you don't want to do that, here are two potential scenarious of what could be going on:

Scenario A: Your project actually has made a worthwhile (though certainly not groundbreaking) contribution to the knowledge in your field, and the world would be better off if this knowledge would be shared. You and your teammates may not realize this, due to lack of experience or self-doubts.

Scenario B: Your advisor just cynically hopes to get a quick publication out of this; or might overestimate the relevance of your work.

The following response is compatible with either scenario:

Dear Prof X,

its great to hear that you think so much of our work, and would like to see it published! As I/we are not familiar with academic publishing, and will take up full-time employment soon, I/we will not be able to contribute to the writing though. You have access to all our documentation through our dissertation(s)/coursework submission/here is a link to a shared Dropbox folder. If you have the time and inclination to produce a joint paper from this, you can reach me here and I shall do my best to read the draft quickly and get back to you.

If you are in Scenario A, and your supervisor finds the time, you may end up spending an hour or two to read the draft and sign off on it. While having published a paper might not do much for you, these two hours would certainly still be well-spent career wise.

If you are in Scenario B, that might just be the end of it. If it isn't, you have tried to be polite, and it is time to reiterate the "As pointed out before, I/we will not be able to contribute to the writing" ad nauseum (or ignore your supervisors emails).

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    I don't have anything to offer the OP, but it seems to me that the last sentence of your italicized sample letter could be a bit off-putting to the professor, as it seems to be something a superior would say to a subordinate, being not much better than saying "if you do all the work in writing this up, I'll look over it and let you know what I think" (which would definitely be off-putting). Aug 6, 2021 at 14:51
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I used to be in a similar position. I chose to listen to whatever the supervisor had said. But then, I ended up wasting a lot of time and didn't get published, wasn't even willing to post the paper on arxiv because I am not even convinced it has any value because good research needs intuition and original thinking. If you don't feel like having one, then talk to your supervisor with logical arguments explaining clearly why you think this way. Then cases may be like:

  • Your supervisor is a reasonable person and gets persuaded. ✅
  • You get persuaded by your supervisor because he naturally has a broader vision and better idea that you don't have, and he is willing to share them with you. ✅
  • You cannot talk your supervisor through. Based on my humble opinion, it is possible that
    1. He doesn't even have a clear idea of the future path of your project. But he may just want to get you running thereby increasing even a tiny chance for him to get another paper at the expense of your time and mental health, which he doesn't care about. ❌
    2. He simply doesn't have enough research experience. So he is not trustworthy on this matter. ❌

But I believe it really depends on the specific situation, the above is only based on my experience. You need to make the decision.

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