As I detailed a bit in a question I posted a couple weeks back I am at a bit of a fork in the road. I know after I am done with my undergraduate degree, at least at some point, I would like to either go to graduate school or be an independent researcher -- either way, I really want to do research. The way I see it, conducting research could help me on either path in the following ways:

Independent Researcher

  1. I have been told it would be a bit unlikely that if I were to submit a paper without a PhD. or M.A and no institution next too my name it may not be taken all that seriously (mostly concerned about peer review). Being published may help me gain a little bit of credibility -- I know it should not be that way, but this is what I have been told basically twice now (though I am happy to listen if your opinion differs).
  2. Gain experience researching for future work, that I may not get in the future

Graduate School

  1. My errr, formal metrics, for grad school are not all that great. I have been told that if I am published it would matter less.

The goal here is to get published.

The aforementioned fork in the road comes because, I could graduate this semester, but I do not think it is likely I could publish something this semester. If I went the research rout, I would just take 1 or 2 classes, a directed study and research "class" with my professor (two professors want to do research with me). I would graduate next fall, and continue to research over the summer and into next fall in addition to this semester (so basically a full year). It would be an experiment or at least developing the theory for something in Quantum Communications and Networks/Information Science. I also may do some theory work in CS. Please note I have been working on my undergrad since 2014

My question:

  1. Are my assumptions valid
  2. Is is the trade off of a year of undergraduate research worth it, for the time I could potentially spend in grad school (though it may not be a place I was hoping to go), not considering the amount of time I have been in undergrad
  3. (2.) but considering the time I have spent in undergrad.
  4. Is it realistic to think that I could get published in a year before graduation
  5. Is it realistic to think that at least the work could be done, so something could be published using the data collected after graduation.

P.s Bonus I might be able to complete a degree concentration if I stay

  • 1
    This question is too specific to your individual circumstances to answer, unfortunately. It seems like a better path for you would be to graduate (after 8 years!) and find a job as a professional researcher in your field and apply to grad school after a few years. This is incredibly common, in fact, some would recommend it compared to going straight to grad school. Jan 13 at 20:34
  • Also, there's too many questions. Jan 13 at 20:34
  • @AzorAhai-him- Thanks for the response, I really appreciate it. Can you elaborate on being a professional researcher with an undergraduate degree? Jan 14 at 7:01
  • I don't know what there is to elaborate on. Jan 14 at 15:12
  • A professional is someone that is paid to do something. Is someone with an undergrad degree paid to do research? then there he/she goes. What you are asking for is the affiliation. I guess your publication is being done with the mentoring/support of some academics, even just a temporary postdoc or PhD. Ask them about you being just affiliated with the department: that do not imply being paid by them, but it would formally imply they accept to consider you being part of the department. A positive answer is not guaranteed, but it is worthwhile to ask them. Jan 14 at 15:51