One of my research colleagues has a BSc degree in Biology with a CGPA of 3.93 and has been involved in research for about 2 years after completing his BSc. Actually, he has been involved in research since he was in his 3rd year so that makes it more than 3 years of him being involved in research.

Currently, he has 25 Scopus indexed papers (15 research papers, the rest are review papers) and 14 PubMed indexed papers (10 research papers, the rest are review papers). He has worked in three specific sectors of biology with 5-6 different supervisors.

He has the first authorship in about 9 of his publications and the impact factor of the journals where his papers are published ranges from 0.7 to 5.2, with most of the papers in the 1.0 to 2.0 range. Most of his papers have about 5 to 7 co-authors.

He is so passionate about research and he likes to write review articles.

But he is currently worried whether too many publications will harm his chance of getting admitted into graduate programs.

So, I would appreciate any suggestions regarding this problem.

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    It depends a bit on if the journals are reputable or predatory. The impact factors don't tell you this. If your friend has papers exclusively or almost exclusively in predatory journals, this may indeed hurt admission chances as this would imply that he would need to unlearn part of his previous publication habits before becoming productive.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 19:43
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    Do people actually track papers based on who indexes what journals they're published in? Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 23:02
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    But in any case, what are you (he) going to do with the answer? He can't get rid of publications if we say he has too many Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 23:02
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    @AzorAhai-him- The (university) bureaucrats do. Although in recent years they only give us productivity points for journals in the upper half of AIS, they do track the remaining ones based on many details that have to be filled in. The grant agency wants the number of SCOPUS and WoS papers separately in the grant application. Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 6:49
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    @donald Uh 3 papers in predatory journals is a lot... Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 19:34

3 Answers 3


It is really hard to see how it would hurt. A very few might question whether the person actually needs a degree to verify what they are already capable of, but most know that the degree is necessary for advancement.

I think it more likely that a degree could be expedited for such a person, though not all requirements would be waived. I also think that a lot of labs would be more than happy to welcome this person who likely has a lot of experience and ideas.

I don't see a problem, but I haven't seen the application either. The particular question, however, shouldn't lead to worry.


If the research papers are solid research papers, the friend should try some fast-track PhD, maybe in Europe, like take the rest of the current unpublished research, add a little more and write a thesis and be done after 1 year. Going through a full PhD program looks like a serious waste of time for them.


But he is currently worried whether too many publications will harm his chance of getting admitted into graduate programs.

Yes, for Computer Science. If an undergrad student in CS tells me that they have 25 papers, then I can definitely tell all of them are rubbish, even if they are not in predatory journals.

After becoming a 1st year PhD student (10+ years ago), I was invited to serve as a program committee member for many conferences in my home country. They were not predatory conferences, and they had proceeding in IEEE Explore. But I never wanted to publish anything there, even for a free trip going home.

The time they spent on writing 25 rubbish papers, the could have, instead, spent on writing just 1 paper in a top tier conference. Publishing 25 papers during undergraduate just means the student or the lab they worked at focus on the quantity instead of quality. That mentality is very very bad for future research.

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    +1. The numbers will be field- and circumstance-dependent, but a candidate with an abnormally high publication count is either a genius, or is focussing on quantity rather than quality. In this case, I'm quite sure it's the latter, given that OP says that some publications are in predatory journals.
    – avid
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:00
  • Assuming 4 years' time «in the business» (or 48 months), then 25 papers successfully published -- without knowing more detail -- looks like a rate of about 2 months per paper. For getting familiar enough with the topic (literature search, initial testing, growing cell cultures/identifying successful strategies to perform the experiments) actually collecting the data, dead ends and set backs (maybe less if it is a review), work to render the results accessible to the reader in a compuscript (likely more on a review), submission, 1st & 2nd round of peer review ... how so? Paper mill?
    – Buttonwood
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:04
  • I guess there may be exceptions - if, say, someone has niche experimental skills that mean they have contributed to a number of projects led by different people. Otherwise I think @buttonwood is spot on. No-one can churn out worthwhile ideas at that sort of rate.
    – avid
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:14

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