[To clarify I am in an European university, have never published anything]

As part of my Masters curriculum in Electrical Engineering I had to do a research project during the semester along with the lectures. This is intended as a hands on methodology in investigation and research in general. The project turned out to be pretty great (got the highest grade possible), and my supervisor (a PostDoc student at my university) and I were very happy with the results.

I did not consider it at the moment (or get it proposed by my supervisor), but with some formatting I think it should be at least good enough to be sent to some journals/publications.

Here are were my questions, considering I am not considering to get for a PhD after my Masters is done:

1) Since the project finished my supervisor ended his PostDoc and left the university. I don't have any contact info from him, and haven't found any from a quick Google search.

Question: should I contact my supervisor to publish along with him?

The ideas and theoretical proposal came from him. He did assist and help me during the project, but I did all the implementation and writing of the projects paper.

2) Not knowing what I am doing after graduation, I think there is little chance I pursue a PhD.

Question: should I be trying to get it published altogether or ditch the idea?

I think that even if I do not continue in academia, it is helpful for later on applying to certain industry jobs. I also would like to share the ideas and findings, since I think the work was well-structured and investigated interesting ideas.

3) As mentioned, I never published before, so I don't know the procedure, the jounals where I should aim, etc. The field was Systems Biology, which is not technically my area, but the project dealt mostly with modelling, simulation (MATLAB), etc. (I followed a Control / Robotics heavy program)

Question: if 2) applies, where should I try to send my work?

Any help, ideas or similar experiencies would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Why not ask your advisor? He would know better than us whether the project has merit for publication and where to submit to.
    – bdeonovic
    Apr 15, 2014 at 18:45
  • Also ask those who graded the project and others in the department. If your supervisor is not listed as a coauthor, check with people in the department for what sort of flack and fall out to expect from publishing. (Someone at your department should have some contact info: even if they won't give it to you, you can request sending your contact info to the postdoc with a request for discussion of authorship.) Apr 15, 2014 at 18:51
  • What are you using EE as an abbreviation of? Please can you edit that into the question?
    – 410 gone
    Apr 15, 2014 at 19:38
  • 1
    @titusandronicus Are you sure that you are alowed to publish it? I was also at a European university for my undergraduate, where one guy in the class for his Bachelor's thesis made some very good publishable quality results, however it is the university policy that work submitted for credit becomes the property of the university. Maybe that is not the case in your country, but you must check it.
    – Flint72
    Apr 15, 2014 at 21:22
  • Publishing your paper is a good idea. Writing and publishing a paper is an educational experience. You learn things that may be useful to you outside academia. Specifically, academic scientific writing is good training in writing precisely. Yes, definitely contact your supervisor. Apr 16, 2014 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


You should definitely contact your former supervisor. If you do not have his contact information yourself, then you could try asking colleagues at your institution - such as a professor in the same research group.

While authorship norms do vary by field, the supervisor's contribution (having the original idea, defining the project, helping you in general) is surely enough that he should at least be asked. My impression is that even in those fields where supervisors might not be authors, it would still be very bad to try to publish a paper without talking to the supervisor about it. For all you know, he is planning to publish, and would be justifiably angry if you pre-emptively submitted your own version - and even had it accepted. Even if did not expect to be a co-author, he may still be upset if he does not have the chance to help make the paper the best it could be.1

If the supervisor would like to be a co-author, then he should certainly be able to help with venue selection, and adapting the document from a thesis to a paper. Generally, it's not just a matter of changing the formatting - each kind of document has its own requirements, which aren't exactly the same. For example, in a dissertation you will probably spend more time on general background material than in a paper. The work you have done might not be substantive or original enough for all journals. Receiving advice at an early stage may well make a huge difference in the quality of the submitted paper. (You can still seek advice from others, if the original supervisor can't help.)

As far as whether you should submit a paper at all: I think you are thinking along the correct lines. It may help your career - it certainly shouldn't harm it - and you will be contributing to the general advancement of human knowledge. On the other hand, it will take some amount of work. Again, someone who is more familiar with your research area can take a look at your thesis and give advice about just how much work that might be.

1. Example: A colleague of mine is a mathematician. His student submitted a paper, based on the student's own work. The professor did not expect to be an author, especially since he didn't contribute to the mathematical content. But he was upset that the student hadn't asked him for advice about preparing and submitting the paper. He was also embarrassed that he found out about the paper's existence from a third party.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .