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I have a strong background in computer science, with a significant publication record in top journals and conferences. After completing a five-year postdoctoral position, I have recently become an Assistant Professor. I am thinking about the challenges associated with publishing single-author papers, particularly in the field of AI within computer science.

Are the chances of getting published as a solo author poor compared to multiple authors?

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    think this way: you can spend an anomunt X of time: - spend X time in publishing a paper alone; - spend X time in coordinating 3 papers from PhDs or Postdocs where you are 2nd/nth author and the consequent 4th paper where you sum up the 3 papers and you bring the PhDs and Postdocs as coauthors. You have a managerial role now, for historical reason it is called "assistant professor", but oculd well be called "line manager". Unless you are permanently employed, please think in these terms.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 11:56
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    "Are the chances of getting published as a solo author poor compared to multiple authors?" Why would that be? Commented May 24, 2023 at 16:58
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    What are the expectations for you by your tenure review? I suspect that if you are supposed to have a research group that they will rate having multiple papers by multiple students higher than you doing solo work and not graduating students.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 14:46

4 Answers 4

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In Computer Science often papers are published in conference proceedings, where the review process is double blind. So having one or ten authors in the author list does not make any difference to get the paper published.

Moreover as an assistant professor I don't see an issue with publishing solo even in a non double blind review process.

From my perspective, the major issue would be to find time to write up the paper and importantly perform the necessary numerical experiments to get the paper published, given the other time demanding responsibilities your position will have.

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    I'm not so sure about double blind in CS conferences as that isn't my experience, but the answer is correct.
    – Buffy
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 11:55
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    There are indeed some sub-areas in CS that are more open to experiments regarding the publishing process (double-blind, requiring reproducibility for papers with experimental results, journal-first publishing, ...), and others are less so. In my sub-community of CS, for instance, double-blind is the exception rather than the norm.
    – DCTLib
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 12:04
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It's unclear whether the question asked is about the process of research or the process of publishing. If the latter, which may be suggested by the phrasing "chances of getting published", I feel like this question betrays some wrong thinking regarding authorship.

For a given work, everyone who contributed as an author should be credited as one, and no one should be added as an author who didn't contribute as one. No modifications to this should be made in either direction to game the publishing process.

For the process of research part, though, I do think it's more challenging to publish as a single author. Doing all the work yourself may not be as efficient as collaborating with others and combining your strengths, and you are more likely to miss key implications or weaknesses in the work. Most importantly, you lack the collaborative back and forth process that shapes your ideas and thinking.

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It shouldn't be a problem when you have a strong publishing record. Double blindness may help, but I highly doubt it is a crucial factor as long as you post it on any preprint server like arxiv.

However, the question you should ask yourself is why you want to publish a single author paper? As an assistant professor, you don't need to demonstrate that you can work independently. That is the task of a senior PhD/junior postdoc. An assistant professor is supposed to make strong connections in the department, train PhD students, and get decent grant money. All of these benefit from collaboration and publish together with senior scientists, colleagues and your own students.

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You are asking the wrong question. You should ask, why do you want to write solo papers? Do you think they will help you getting a permanent position as a full professor? Will it help for applications to grants or tenure tracks?

I think the position in the list of authors or being the only author of a paper is of less value compared to the changes of getting a much stronger, more impactful publication. Collaborating with peers helps you to get a better paper, it shares the load among multiple stages, it combines various experiences, backgrounds, and interests.
I don't see the upside of a single author paper - unless you struggle with people, communication, or trust.

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