Given that undergraduate projects and publications can be of a lesser quality than later works, some may be discouraged from adding them to their CV. On the other hand, perhaps a CV should simply be a raw record of your work, good, bad, and middling.

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    I've seen CVs (of mathematicians) with designed subsections for publications as undergraduate work at the end of usual journal article sections. I don't know what others think of this style, but it left no negative impression on me. At least to me, it doesn't carry any negative connotation. But you might want to seek specific advice from your advisor because most likely s/he knows the culture, customs, and your work waaay better than any of us here. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 2:12
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    I've also seen CVs with a separate section for undergraduate work, but I've always thought the intent was "Hey look! I published even as an undergrad!" and not "I also have these substandard papers, but I was only an undergrad, so you can ignore them."
    – JeffE
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:40
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    I'm just tagging along with someone else's research. — If you don't make a substantial intellectual contribution, then you shouldn't be an author. Your CV shouldn't include anything where you were "just tagging along".
    – JeffE
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


Your publications are your publications, and unless they have been retracted, you should list them all on your CV. It is up to the reader how to interpret your undergraduate work, and you have minimal control of that in the rather raw format of a CV, whether or not you list them. But consider: if you do list them, then your degree history makes it clear they are from undergrad and to be judged accordingly. If you do not list them, however, then the reader may easily come across them anyway online and be left to wonder what awful shame you are attempting to hide.

  • I'm not sure if your degree history always makes it clear which publications are from undergrad unless whoever reading your CV bothers to dig deeper information from other sources. For example, how can you tell which were from undergraduate on this CV math.mit.edu/~fox/cvfox102313.pdf ? There are some papers published in 2008 and 2009 which were not undergraduate work. And there are some other papers in the same years that are undergraduate work. How would you know which belongs to which category if it were not for the "Undergraduate research" section? Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 2:40
  • I think this argues for not separating the work. How much work in grad school counts for a paper revised after one graduates? Why is an early PhD student all that different than a strong senior? I stand by my assertion: your publications are your publications, and it is better to let the reader judge their value.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 2:48
  • Well, I'm not particularly for or against separating publications. I'm simply curious how you can be sure that "your degree history makes it clear they are from undergrad," which is in your answer. By the way, I agree that your publications are your publications, and it is better to let the reader judge their value. But I also think that it's not a bad idea to make it easier for the reader to judge, e.g., separating refereed journal papers from non-refereed ones, or separating journal articles from conference papers. It may not be so strange to deal with undergrad work like this. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 2:58
  • @YuichiroFujiwara Suppose the OP received BS in 2008, I would think his publications in or before 2008 would be his undergrad research. The paper published in 2009 is probably hard to determine because there a gap between submission and publishing. He may need to explain it in his CV.
    – Nobody
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 8:11
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    @scaaahu Yes, there are ways to fairly accurately identify undergraduate work, e.g., submission dates, co-authors, affiliations, and the like. That's why I said "...unless whoever reading your CV bothers to dig deeper information from other sources." Also, I perfectly agree that you should not hide your publications. I'm sorry if my wording was confusing or otherwise poorly phrased. What I'm saying is literally what I wrote in the first comment. And I'm definitely not being against your comment or jakebeal's. I agree with you two, maybe except the part it's clear which is undergraduate work. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 8:53

As jakebeal said, you don't really have a choice. A CV is supposed to contain a complete list of your publications, end of story.

But I don't think you need worry. Nobody expects your first papers to represent the best work of your career. If you are early in your career (e.g. undergrad or grad student), it is much better to have some papers on your CV, whatever their quality, instead of none. And if you are later in your career, nobody will pay much attention to your earliest work. You might be judged based on your best papers, or your latest papers, or your total number of papers, but not on your first papers.

As to your enumerated concerns:

(A) There's nothing wrong with that. If you do any amount of collaboration in your career (and you should), you will be a coauthor on papers where the main idea came from someone else. That's fine, as long as there are also some where the main ideas are yours. (If you have great ideas, wouldn't you want other talented people to be willing to help bring them to completion? So you should be willing to do likewise, within reason.)

(B) Nobody writes exclusively great papers; every CV has papers that are not so good. Good papers get noticed, not-so-good papers (unless they are plagiarized or egregiously substandard) just get ignored. Mediocre papers don't directly hurt you, they simply don't help you. So don't worry about having written papers that aren't great.

(C) As above, the start of your publication history is not something that people care about, so there's no particular advantage in going to great lengths to ensure that your first (acknowledged) publication is super awesome. If you write that super awesome paper eventually, it will overshadow the others, and if you don't, at least you'll still have something to show.

Note also that a common convention on a CV is to list papers in reverse chronological order: newest papers first, and earliest papers at the end, where nobody is likely to pay them much attention.


The general rule of thumb: List all in a reverse chronological order. (Thanks for pointing the omission)

The answer to your question will have some subjectivity. In many cases, a person might have done some extremely novel work worthy of elaborating briefly in CV. This enhances chances to get into graduate school or jobs of his/her liking. Most of the jobs people do (from the statistical stand-point) are volunteering or 'Do-it-this-way' kind of projects.

Even if your project/research is not a major endeavor, there is no harm in adding a piece on information. But make sure that you are not incessantly harping on it. Your CV should be a concise document which highlights your skills, interest and character. The person evaluating you should get sufficient information about you. Too much details on any one thing (about a minor project especially) tends to work against you, from my experience.

  • Thanks. Edited my answer. Reverse chronological order is the way to go in highlighting one's most recent contribution.
    – user27151
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 17:43

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