I am a physics student looking to apply for PhD positions. To increase my chances of getting selected and to increase my exposure to research, I want to publish research papers. The only research I did was in my MS degree which was in the field of quantum optics. I was thinking maybe I should contact foreign professors about it. Is it possible that I can work on a short-term research project with some professor? Do students do this normally? Please guide me how I should proceed with this.

  • From the start of your masters project to publication of the results, how much time elapsed?
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 16 at 10:12
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    In what country (countries) are you hoping to study for the doctorate? In some, you are probably already fine.
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 16 at 10:13
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    I completed my masters in 2022 and my research project took about 1.5 years, and I want to apply to universities in Europe, US, Canada, Australia. The thing is I want to secure a fully-funded scholarship and do my PhD from a prestigious university. I am an average student like I don't have a 3.8 or 3.9 GPA (although I got an A in my research) , so I want to compensate that by doing research projects.
    – Anaya
    Commented Feb 16 at 10:38
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    I don't understand how paper publishing relates to short-term projects with professors. What about submitting your results to the conference and publishing them in conference proceedings? That would allow you to meet some experts face to face, and you will also publish.
    – Juandev
    Commented Feb 19 at 10:14
  • That's a nice suggestion. Can you please guide me more about conferences and how is publishing in conference proceedings different from normally published papers?
    – Anaya
    Commented Feb 26 at 6:42

1 Answer 1


This answer is US focused and probably not valid elsewhere.

A fully funded doctorate at a prestigious university is probably impossible. Funding is normally through TAs and RAs, not scholarships. They include tuition, most fees, and modest living stipend. But any R1 university in the US would serve you well, whether you think it prestigious or not. Even the 50'th ranked university will, if the department is large enough, provide a good career background.

No, students don't "normally" do research with US professors unless the students are at the same university, as the professor has little incentive to help and is busy enough with their own students. So, the answer to your "how to..." is probably that you can't. The exception would only be if you had something rather extraordinary to offer in a research idea and background.

Also, "short term" seems like an issue to me. Research (true research) isn't time constrained and publication can take quite a while, as you have already seen.

For US study, I'd suggest putting together a good application with good letters of reference and casting a wide net among R1 universities with what you have. Perhaps you will catch something. Many (most) student start with only a bachelors in field here, so you may well be qualified already.

Only if your applications all fail to gain a position should you worry about alternatives to "strengthen" your CV.

List of R1 universities in US

  • Thank you very much!
    – Anaya
    Commented Feb 16 at 18:52

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