I have a good number of peer-reviewed publications but none as a first author. I am mostly 2nd author in these papers and sometimes 3rd-4th. I am a prospective PhD candidate, and I saw several professors' websites that they prefer students with at least 1 paper as first author. Does having no paper as the first author but over 5 as co-authors damage my profile? Does it indicate sth like I can't do independent research or sth?

1 Answer 1


This depends on where you are applying and on who it is that makes the acceptance decisions. In the US it wouldn't be any issue at all. In Germany and some other places it might, depending on who you apply to and their own judgements.

I should think though that you are in a good position. You have some evidence of your ability to collaborate which is also valuable. Entering a PhD program doesn't (normally) require that you already have the skills that the PhD is supposed to give you.

Also note, that even for the professors you note here, that "prefer" and "would accept" aren't necessarily the same. It might be worth having a conversation with some of them if your work is aligned.

  • Thank you. That makes sense. Oct 10, 2023 at 12:37

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