I recently obtained my degree and I am applying this period for PhD studies in order to start next year. In one graduate program where I am applying they ask me to give details about my favorite scientific publication and the reasons why I choose this publication.

Honestly, I found this question harder than any other (describe my research experience/research interests etc.). I have research experience and a paper (first author in quite good journal), I have read quite a lot papers in the last two years however I can not say "This is my favorite publication" only a "review" paper which describes the achievements of my field in the last decade and the future goals.

Is a review paper a good choice for this kind of question? What should I to in this situation?

  • Hi, and welcome to Academia SE. I have improved your post a little bit. Check it out.
    – Ooker
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 10:23
  • 1
    They just wanted you to check your judgments. This question is similar to classic interview questions like "Why did you choose our company/institute?".
    – Dexter
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 10:39
  • @Dexter Do you believe that a review paper is good or bad choice ?
    – user88890
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 10:45
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    Any paper will be fine but most important will be "why did you choose that". They are looking for that answer rather than which paper you choose.
    – Dexter
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 11:00
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    I'm not sure I understand the problem. You have read a bunch of papers and you have a strong paper of your own, so you must have as much insight and experience here as you need. So why can't you pick a paper that was "the best" (or among the best) according to whatever reasons made you like it the most and describe why you liked it / why it had a positive influence on you? A review paper would be fine, it seems to me. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


I think purpose of that question while applying to graduate program is to check your judgment or thought process. It will be similar to writing statement of purpose (SOP) where you try to justify why do you choose any institute/program/career etc. I think, any paper (research or review) is fine as far as you give reasonable answer to their question about "why do you like that publication".

There might be many different answers to that questions, One might like following things from that paper

  1. The way research has done
  2. The way authors have interpreted results
  3. The way connections have made to other problems
  4. The way they have formulated model from existing information (This is generally done in reviews)
  5. The way authors has provoked future questions

Most important thing you should mention in your answer that how this paper has helped you in any way. For example, one might say, I liked the way authors have used very general methods cleverly to answer some difficult question which changed your perception about solving difficult questions with simple methods. In case of review, you can say how authors have used many well established and new concepts to make current model. This helped you in understanding some complex concept.

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