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If I hope to enroll in a Computer Science PhD program in a top tier university (Stanford/CMU) and I currently hold a master's degree (without publication). Is a year-long Research Software development job at a reputable R&D Lab (Microsoft research lab at my country for example) or a short-term research internship at a good lab that may get my name on a paper in a good journal? Of course you may assume I cannot do both.

  • A year-long job at MSR would hopefully also give you at least one good paper, right? – xLeitix Jan 14 '15 at 10:55
  • I'm not sure about that, I haven't yet get the offer but I'm trying to compare alternatives to prepare for the path I will choose @xLeitix – Magellanea Jan 14 '15 at 11:04
  • I think you do not have certainty that a good paper comes out in either of the options, and I am not convinced that the probability is necessarily larger in either of them. The guys I know at MSR publish a lot of good stuff, more than many academic labs I know. – xLeitix Jan 14 '15 at 11:11
  • I edited your title, to make explicit that you are not talking just about any job here. – xLeitix Jan 14 '15 at 11:27
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To expand a bit on my comments:

In PhD admission is research internship or a job [at a research lab] better?

Whatever you think gives you a better research profile at the end.

If you get a job at a strong research lab like Microsoft Research (MSR), you will typically also write strong papers, collaborate tightly with academics, and go to conferences. Hence, many of the advantages you would hope for from a research internship you would also get with a job at a good research lab. That being said, you may also get swamped with tasks more focused on "transfer" or productisation tasks, which are likely still valuable for PhD admissions, but arguably less so than actual research papers.

That being said, I am wondering whether you are (without a PhD) actually competitive for a job at a good research lab. As far as I know, these labs typically hire primarily at postdoc level and beyond.

  • Thanks a lot for the reply, In fact - as I stated above - The job is "Research Software developer" and they require bachelor's at least and (MSc or PhD preferred). I haven't known yet exactly if I will participate or not in writing papers. – Magellanea Jan 14 '15 at 11:30
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    @Magellanea Clear that up front, and decide based on this info. Also clear up front whether it makes sense to apply without PhD if it is preferred. – xLeitix Jan 14 '15 at 11:44

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