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I am facing a problem that is new for me and I don't know to whom to ask. My current supervisor and I are very busy and we both have barely some time to discuss pressing bureaucratic issues and priorities related to students supervised by both. I will ask him, but I am not sure when we can talk in detail about this. This premise was to ask you to please avoid replying simply with: "You should ask your supervisor". I will.

I am writing a grant application for a prestigious grant (I am based in Germany) and I might have, by the time I send the application, a paper that is almost accepted by a very prestigious journal (e.g., Science or Cell). It is not officially accepted by the Editor in the system, but it has come to a stage that, by experience, most of us know it will likely be accepted. For example, the last revision:

  • contained only very minor suggestions
  • all reviewers were extremely supportive and praising the work as a new, important contribution
  • all correspondence with the Editor was also supportive and praising our work

This publication would highlight that I am becoming an expert in the field, that my ideas are innovative, and that I have increasingly better supervising skills. In addition, this publication would show to the funding agency also that I am being recognized as a growing prospect for academic achievements.

My questions are:

  1. Should I acknowledge this publication in the list of publications I want to highlight? By definition it is not a publication, as it is not public.
  2. If I should, how to do it? What do I concretely write?
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5 Answers 5

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You will get differing advice on this, but in my field, we do often make a special note when a paper receives an R&R (Revise and resubmit) at a prestigious journal.

In my field, R&R for top journals are not given out lightly, and indicate a high probability of eventual acceptance. When the R&R is communicated, the editor would also designate the stage as "Major Revisions" or "Minor Revisions." So it would not be unusual to see a CV with an entry like

Authors, Paper Title. Revise and Resubmit (Minor Revisions) at Journal of Awesomeness.

This is far more common for pre-tenure folks, possibly because tenured and full professors don't update their CVs very often.

I will note that most people have a section called “Works in Progress/Working Papers” for completed manuscripts like this.

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    +1 even though I gave different advice. Jan 17 at 16:25
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    I see no reason not to follow this advice. It is possible however that whoever reads this will just ignore the not yet published manuscript when assessing the applicant. Honsestly, I think that is the most likely outcome. Jan 17 at 18:57
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    The choices are: desk reject, rejected after review, R&R with major revisions, R&R with minor revisions, accept. How would you respond to reviewers without resubmitting?
    – Dawn
    Jan 18 at 3:22
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    @Dawn in my experience in pure math the last two are simply "major revision" and "minor revision". "Revise and resubmit", if it is an option at all, means "problems are too serious for even a major revision". Often it is unclear whether fixing the issues is even possible, but the result would be suitable for the journal if so. Jan 18 at 8:26
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    This makes a lot of sense and it suggest a practical solution that I think works well. Thanks! Jan 18 at 9:34
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First of, you got work that received praise. So you can and should feel good about that.

However, as long as the editor has not accepted it than it has not been accepted. Thing with prestigious journals is that they get more very good submissions than they can accept. So they also have to reject very good submissions. You don't want to end up in the situation where you claimed to have a publication in Cell "in the bag" and that publication never materializes.

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  • I agree with you, albeit the solution proposed by @Dawn seems a good compromise between claiming the paper too early and not acknowledging it at all. I think I will go for that one, but I'll be careful to not overstate it. Thanks. Jan 18 at 9:36
  • "so they also have to reject very good submissions" true, but usually this comes in as a desk reject and/or as a reject at first review.
    – EarlGrey
    Jan 19 at 7:50
  • @EarlGrey that is discipline specific. In my field it is fairly common (and very annoying and inefficient) for a paper to be rejected in the second or even third round. Jan 19 at 7:53
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It is normal to list something as "Bloggs et al, "The cure for cancers", in review for Cell" or similar. That is objective fact, that you have a paper with that title in review for that journal.

Trying to go beyond this to express that it is "very likely to be accepted" is more difficult IMHO - while you might have good reason to believe this, you don't really have evidence that you can present to somebody else.

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Unfortunately you are not allowed to include papers under review in your list of publications. Even when the manuscript is accepted in principle (AIP) it is not formally accepted yet. Editors from big journals can and do withdraw manuscripts anytime and for any reason. If you are applying for a grant (DFG or ERC), I would encourage you to include some highlights from your paper in the preliminary data section and cite them as "under review". Based on my experience grants are rarely accepted after the first submission. When you will receive your score and the comments from the reviewers, your paper will likely be formally accepted and you can edit your grant and publication list accordingly. Good luck.

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  • This might be a good note if there is a very specific cv format that does not allow for a works in progress section.
    – Dawn
    Jan 22 at 16:13
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Side note to the good advice you received already (for future paper submissions): Preprints alleviate your concern 1). Pointing to a bioRxiv reference with a note on where it's under review / r&r enable interested grant reviewers to have a look at your great piece of work.

Also, general piece of advice, esp for the busy supervisor situation: Try to find peers ahead of you, who applied for the same programme successfully. They may be willing to give their opinion on questions such as this and ideally to share their proposal. If they know you well, they may even be up for commenting on a first draft of yours.

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