I am applying for a lecturer position at a university, and one of the application materials is a publication list.

I am a graduate student in my last year of PhD, and I plan on focusing my job search on teaching positions. I currently have no publications, nor will I have any anytime soon.

It looks like on the application, I have to upload something in order to submit it. What do I upload if I have no publications?

I was considering just a page that says "no publications" but I thought I would check here before I make a move.

For context, I am a student in mathematics. I have been told that it is not unusual to have no publications as a math PhD student.

  • From the maths-specific side of things: applications on MathJobs vary - for some the publication list may be compulsory, for others it may be optional. It is also possible to submit an incomplete application, I believe. I would go with your suggestion though. I had similar problems with the requirement for a 'graduate transcript'. – Jessica B Dec 29 '14 at 12:12

If you do not have publications (including papers "in press") then the publications list can be left empty. If you have papers. You can, however add headings for publications "under review", if you have any or "manuscripts in preparation", again, if you have any. You may also have unpublished reports of different types. Such contributions can also be listed under a separate heading. What can be included is difficult to say but in my case, I used to include annual reports I had to write to a super-computer center and a research station, both which were collated with others and printed by the organising body. So any report sitting in a drawer is not valid.

Obviously the a "manuscript in preparation" will not be very strong but it will at least indicate that something is ongoing. But, note that a manuscript in preparation should be something worth reading to make it to such a list. In a situation like yours any written material prepared for some official body and with some distribution, can be used to indicate your activities. There is a grey zone which is undefinable (which is why one generally avoids such listings later in the career), so do not put in anything. In short, you need to be able to show these "claims".

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  • can one put the dissertation as publication? Would the university itself be considered the publisher of the thesis? – user-2147482637 Dec 29 '14 at 11:16
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    I would list the dissertation under its own heading to make this clear to anyone reading the CV. If your thesis is a publication, add a note describing the facts unless such information is understood by the community. In fact, you can add short explanatory notes to any of the headings I suggested with the aim of being upfront with information and avoid any misunderstandings. – Peter Jansson Dec 29 '14 at 11:24
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    Yes, definitely list your thesis as a publication, even if it is only published in your university library. (But clearly marked as a thesis, of course.) – JeffE Dec 29 '14 at 14:26
  • For what it's worth, I know of a few professors who would actively discourage their graduate students from listing anything as "in preparation". To them, if it's not accepted, it may as well not exist yet, and you shouldn't list it. – eykanal Dec 29 '14 at 20:31
  • I find this answer unclear. The OP is saying that they have no publications to list, pending or otherwise. Given this, the first sentence seems the only part this is relevant. On the other hand, an application will be considered incomplete if it requires a publication list and one is not submitted. Are you saying it's okay to submit it incompletely like this? – j0equ1nn Nov 24 '15 at 8:50

Some online application tools are not considering the possibility that you have no publication record. Your idea is ok OP, I would do the same if I was in your position. An empty page is not good since the potential employer can think of a wrong application and dismiss it.

Anyway let me say that you should have some publication to apply to a university position, the suggestion of Peter Jansson are good. Try to follow them.

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  • Thanks for your response. I realize it would be ideal to have a publication. When I say I have no publication, I really mean nothing, and nothing upcoming. For context, I edited my question to add that I am a math PhD student, and I have been told it's not unusual to not have publications. – Felix Y. Dec 29 '14 at 11:19
  • @FelixT: As Peter points out above, you should list your thesis as a publication "in preparation." (If it's not, how can you be sure you'll finish this year?) – aeismail Dec 29 '14 at 11:47
  • @FelixT. "I have been told it's not unusual to not have publications". This might be partially true for PHD students but it is not usually true for lecturers or even PHD holders. – Alexandros Dec 29 '14 at 13:04
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    It is common for a math PhD student in the US to have no publications when applying for a first job. Such a student is normally applying for a job about 6 months before even defending the thesis, which is typically being written as the application is made. These comments are specific to PhDs in mathematics in the US. – Dan Fox Dec 29 '14 at 15:29
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    Dan Fox is correct. I know multiple Ph.D. students in the last 3 years who were offered postdocs at top-5 math departments despite having no publications. Unfortunately, this isn't a causal link. ;) Alexandros, you should be careful when making claims outside your own field, since the situation is often quite different in other fields. – Tom Church Jan 1 '15 at 0:01

I think your cover letter is one of the most important parts of your job application. It's what I always read first when recruiting. In it you can describe - in a nonapologetic way - why you will be good for this particular institution (presumably with its focus on teaching). Since you are getting a PhD you can legitimately say that you know what mathematical research calls for, perhaps that you enjoy it, even if you don't see much cutting edge publication in your professional future.

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    Although I have no personal experience, I'm not sure covering letters get read that much at all in maths, less so first. – Jessica B Dec 29 '14 at 16:05
  • @JessicaB I don't know whether my colleagues read cover letters. I do because it's where I can find out whether the applicant has thought about what she or he can offer my school in particular. The rest of the application is likely to be boiler plate. If the cover letter is boiler plate too I tend to move on. – Ethan Bolker Dec 29 '14 at 16:10

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