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I'd like to write a scientific article from my master's thesis. My supervisor offered to collaborate on this, and become co-author. I would answer positively if it wasn't for the following considerations:

  • he wants to target journals of a certain level, and I don't think my work is up to these standards (yet?)
  • this is mostly because of two weak points in the actual content of my work. Improving these two weak spots will require a very significant effort: doing new research, learning new topics, writing more arguments...
  • I would like this article to be published quickly, to take advantage from it in my early career life. The journals of my supervisor take many months (sometimes a year) to have the work published. This is incompatible with my timeline
  • and sincerely I am okay with the work as is, with its weaknesses. I don't want to put new research effort into it.

I'm not entirely sure what his opinion on it is, on the two weak points for instance. I know that he thinks it's suitable for a publication. I also don't know in advance what his specific plans for the paper are (only shortening and rewriting? Adding more content? Fixing the weak spots?).

I would therefore like to ask for a meeting, and tell him about my concerns, before confirming I want him to work with me on the paper. In particular that I don't want to put the effort required to fix the two major issues, and something about my timeline. And gather his opinion on those issues too. Maybe they're not such a problem as I imagine.

As for me I am working full time, and I'm not in academia anymore. But I might return there. I'd be writing this paper during weekday evenings.

Is this something sensible to tell my supervisor?

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  • Is it correct to say you're not in academia anymore and don't plan to return?
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 7, 2023 at 13:45
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    Yes, talk to your advisor. Maybe they want to spend the time shoring up the weak points. You say you haven't had much feedback - now you need some. Apr 7, 2023 at 13:57
  • @BryanKrausen I am deciding whether to apply or not for a PhD. If so, I will send applications within few months. And no, now I'm not in Academia.
    – Lilla
    Apr 7, 2023 at 13:58
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    How reliable is your knowledge that you can "publish quickly" in certain journals and that those suggested by your supervisor take ages? It may depend on the field, but personally I'd think that journals that can guarantee to publish work with serious weaknesses (I'm not saying that this is so in your case, but you are apparently assuming it is) quickly are journals who are seen as low level/predatory for a reason, and if you return to academia at some point, a publication in a better journal may count much more for you. Apr 7, 2023 at 15:26
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    In my view there is much "random" variation in how long the peer review process takes (and by the way also in its outcome), and this can mean that you'll have to wait for long even at certain low level journals, and on the other hand things can go quickly, at least occasionally, at a higher level. Apr 7, 2023 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

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You should express your concerns to your advisor as you have stated them here. There shouldn't be any issue about that.

But you should also, probably, defer to them on a decision to publish or not and take guidance on what still needs to be done. They almost certainly have sufficient experience to judge the quality of your work.

I fear you are exhibiting imposter syndrome a bit in your question.

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Unless there's a good reason, you don't always need a timeline. Sometimes good work takes time- for real.

And... believe in yourself. I know it's cliche, but it's true. Current paper I'm working on uses tensor math- I remember texting my coworker "we should stay away from the tensor, I'm not good at it". But, now I'm glad I didn't listen to myself. I've learned SO MUCH more than I otherwise would've if I didn't have the courage (I guess) to be uncomfortable and learn new concepts or ideas. And we're not even done with it yet, I still have more to learn. Is it scary? Yeah kinda. But it's also good that I have the opportunity to learn new methods and things in my field.

You don't need to do this by yourself. It isn't just you writing the paper. If your coauthor has high standards, don't shy away from them, set yourself up to meet them. That's the thing about collaborating- even if your work may not be up to those standards right now, they'll be MUCH better by the time you've finished your paper for a top tier journal.

Full disclosure: I'm a phd student, so research is kinda my life, so don't take my view as gospel. But, that's what I would do. Either way, consistently meet with your coauthors in general. That way everyone's clear about expectations and we can voice our concerns like that.

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