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Many researchers list out their submitted manuscripts on their website. Some specify the journal name, like

Smith J, Oliver J (under review) My awesome paper. Nature.

while others don't, like

Smith J, Oliver J (under review) My awesome paper.

One reason I can think of as to why some don't mention the journal name is that they may get embarrassed in the case where the current journal rejects the paper. Then, the "circle" will know this paper gets rejected from Nature first and then ends up in an inferior journal.

Besides this, are there any other considerations preventing people from mentioning to which journal they submit a paper to?

P.S.: I am asking because my advisor is a researcher who only mentions accepted papers on his webpage. As a student hunting jobs, I feel it is advantageous for me to mention my submitted papers on my webpage. I hesitate to do so, as I worry I may make my advisor unhappy by announcing in which journal our papers are currently under review.

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    If you're worried of making him or her unhappy, ask them: is it ok for you if...? – Massimo Ortolano Nov 9 '15 at 7:01
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    @MassimoOrtolano True that this is the most straightforward solution, but I am also curious about the rules on this issue in academia. :-) – Sibbs Gambling Nov 9 '15 at 7:03
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I think a main reason why many find it preferable to not list the journal name is because it can come across as presumptuous and doesn't really advantage one over not listing the journal name, anyway. For an established researcher (such as, probably, your advisor), the few papers in submission probably do not bear too much influence on his/her reputation, compared to an early-stage researcher for whom these comprise a large percentage of the publication record, so there isn't much to gain.

Two alternatives that may allow you to list your submitted publications in a manner that is consistent with your advisor's are:

  • Do not mention the journal, but mention that the paper has been submitted. This shows most of the important details of the paper and allows you to record it on your webpage without explicitly naming the journal. E.g.,

    Student A and Doe J. (2016) "Our awesome paper." Under review. 12 pages.

  • Depending on your field and the journal to which you submitted, you could post an archival version online (say to arXiv). Then you can reference this on your webpage until it is accepted in a journal.

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    This. The only people I've ever seen talking about listing the journal where you're under review are people thinking it's presumptuous. Don't put the journal name down until it's actually accepted. – Fomite Nov 9 '15 at 9:19
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    If a paper was resubmitted after 'minor revisions' it may not be as presumptuous to write the Journal name. For example "Smith J, Oliver J. My awesome paper. Resubmitted after minor revisions for Nature." While this conveys useful information, because it isn't verifiable, my guess is that it still shouldn't be included and that it still comes off as presumptuous. – WetlabStudent Nov 9 '15 at 11:18
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This has nothing to do with embarrassment, and everything to do with credibility. Not advertising where you submitted your paper is part of a much more general principle that I recommend to everyone to follow. Here it is:

NEVER brag about an achievement that you have not yet accomplished.

The reach of this principle extends far beyond academia, but academia is one place where it is particularly important, since research communities are small and very soon after you enter one, everyone in it will know exactly who you are and what you are about. It is therefore crucial to establish your credibility from day one.

Imagine two researchers, Alice and Bob. They work in the same field and are equally talented, but:

  1. Alice waits until her paper is accepted before listing the journal on her publication list, and Bob doesn't.

  2. Alice does not list "in preparation" papers on her publication list. Bob always has several of them listed.

  3. Alice only gives a talk about her latest results after she has finished writing the manuscript and checking all the details, and has either posted the paper online or is getting ready to do so very soon. Bob gives talks about unwritten projects that are very far from fruition.

  4. Alice's papers are very careful to claim only the results that she has rigorously established, and not rely on future as-yet-unwritten results. Bob's papers often make rosy promises about future extensions of the work he has done and how important they are, or will be.

Here's what will happen. Initially, Bob will be able to attract more attention than Alice from senior researchers in the field. At the early career stage when researchers like them are still judged by fairly superficial metrics, his publication list will appear longer, with catchy journal names his papers are "submitted" to. His talks will be more exciting, with mention of great results that he is working on and is confident he'll have written soon. But then... pretty soon people will find out that he is full of hot air. Many of his projects will not materialize. Many of his papers will be rejected from the fancy journals and quietly published in second-rate journals. Sure, he will have some successes, just like Alice, but after a while he will find that when he goes to a conference, much fewer people come to listen to his talk than to Alice's talk the same day. He will notice that when she announces an exciting result she has been working on for a long time, she has a paper to back it up, and people are much more impressed by that than when he announces a similarly exciting result. And he will notice that when he submits a paper, the referee report always comes back with many complaints about the unfounded claims he makes in his papers, sometimes citing them as the reason for rejecting the paper or requiring a major revision.

Even when he does finish a nice paper, Bob will notice that since he already gave a bunch of talks about the result, the community has moved on and the result is no longer seen as very exciting, again reducing the impact of his work just when he is about to submit the paper and needs that excitement to be at its peak.

After a few years, Bob will notice that despite him and Alice being about equally talented researchers and publishing a similar output of good papers, Alice is more successful than him. Her papers are accepted more frequently, to better journals, and she is more respected and appreciated by her community. That is the point when he understands the principle I mentioned above, and starts to follow it himself.

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    I wonder how often Alice gives a talk only after having written up the entire manuscript - only to have someone in the audience point out a critical flaw or a key result from the literature, which she would have heard about three months earlier if she had been in the habit of presenting work in progress (of course labeling it as such) to solicit feedback. (I agree on your points 1, 2 and 4, though.) – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica Nov 9 '15 at 9:27
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    SimonW and @Stephan, yes, I fully expected some nitpicking of my logic, and I'm happy to see your comments prove that this expectation was correct. Indeed, you make good and valid points, and small variations of Alice's philosophy will apply depending on the field. My overarching principle still stands however, it just needs to be interpreted sensibly to fit the situation. – Dan Romik Nov 9 '15 at 9:46
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    @DanRomik: I agree with the general logic. But there are caveats: for instance Bob's tricks might work long enough that he gets a position, and even tenure, way before Alice does. – Martin Argerami Nov 9 '15 at 11:16
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    I would go one step further than @MartinArgerami When I try to imagine Alice and Bob, I can see Alice forced to leave academia early in her career while I know many Bobs who did OK… – Relaxed Nov 10 '15 at 7:57
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    @DavidRicherby +1 for your funny observation, but obviously when someone says their paper was submitted to Nature, they are not bragging about their ability to submit a paper to Nature, which is indeed something anyone can do. Rather, they are trying to create an impression that their paper is the sort of paper that has a chance of being accepted to Nature. So, it is indeed a case of them prematurely bragging about an as-yet-unachieved accomplishment, in violation of my principle, not bragging about a trivial accomplishment as you suggest. – Dan Romik Nov 10 '15 at 9:16
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I'm going to give a counterargument to the existing answers, because like everything else ever asked about academia, it depends on your field.

In my field (astrophysics), we don't have the sort of high-impact, low-acceptance-rate journals some other fields have. There's ApJ and MNRAS and maybe A&A and not much else. Thus there's no "journal shopping" where one just keeps resubmitting down the chain, hoping to get an article accepted at the highest possible impact factor.

As a result, it's not unusual at all to see "submitted to <journal>," and this carries no negative connotations. The implication is that the work is in the process of being reviewed and will most likely be accepted in due course, since credible researchers don't submit works they don't think will be accepted (hurting your credibility with the only journals in the field is a pretty bad career move).

In fact, the name of the journal carries some useful information. If I see a researcher only submitting to third-rate journals, I wonder why they aren't following the standards of the field. If I see submissions to Nature, I know the research is flashy but shoddy and probably isn't worth paying attention to. If I see no journal name at all, I assume the worst. In the end, good journal names provide a bit of assurance that the researcher is doing mainstream research in line with the expectations of the field.

Just to provide some numbers to back my claims, there were 45 new submissions to astro-ph today. Of those, 31 were already accepted at a journal (in press or published), 10 listed a specific journal as the submission entry, and 4 listed no journal (and some of these last group are articles that are not intended to be published beyond arXiv).

8

I agree with the basic point highlighted in Dan Romik's answer, never brag about an achievement that you have not yet accomplished. And I would add that submitting a paper to Nature is not any more of an accomplishment than submitting it anywhere else or even just posting it on the arXiv; in all these cases, the only accomplishment is that you've written the paper.

I don't see anything wrong with including submitted papers in your CV, but I see no point in saying where they're submitted. In fact, I've been in a hiring committee meeting where an applicant's grandiose claims of this sort ("submitted to Annals of Mathematics") were ridiculed. Of course, your CV should make clear what the status of each not-yet-published paper is: accepted (in which case you can and probably should name the journal) or submitted. Some people also list "in preparation" but that can mean anything from "I've almost finished writing it, and I'll submit it next week" to "I think I can prove some theorems but I haven't yet written a word nor have I even carefully checked the proofs." As a result, I tend to ignore "in preparation" papers.

  • But imagine a student from a decent research institute/group. If the work is slip-shod, will they still submit to Nature just to make CV have such a line: submitted to Nature? I should add I am speaking from a very junior researcher (student)'s perspective. :) – Sibbs Gambling Nov 9 '15 at 11:54
  • @SibbsGambling Having said that writing "submitted to Nature" in your CV is silly and perhaps counterproductive, I'll now draw the inference that it's also silly to submit a paper to Nature just so you can write "submitted to Nature" in your CV. I imagine some people might do it, but I can't imagine they'll get any benefit from it, especially since Nature is probably pretty quick to reject slip-shod work. – Andreas Blass Nov 9 '15 at 12:00
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    I view "in preparation" to mean it's fair game for me to ask you very rigorous questions about the research in an interview. If the paper isn't near a full draft, then you are probably going to have a rough time of it. However, if the research is indeed good work, then this does allow me to ask you questions you can answer well, so I see value in early career researchers [less than 10 total publications] placing this on a CV. – WetlabStudent Nov 9 '15 at 14:08
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    @AndreasBlass: I think Sibbs' point was difference. Say a postdoc is applying for tenure-track jobs, and they have a joint publication on the arXiv with a very senior colleague who has published many papers. If I knew that the paper was submitted to JAMS or the Annals of Math or Publ. IHÉS, I would infer that the senior coauthor must have a high opinion of the work, or they would not have wasted those journals' time. (Of course, this information is much better communicated in a letter of reference.) – Tom Church Nov 9 '15 at 21:03
5

As mentioned by Chris White, there are field-dependents habits that one should follow unless one really knows what one is doing. Independently of the reasons a community comes up with such habits, not following them may be frowned upon pretty easily.

In maths, the habit is not to list the name of journals before acceptance, but to list preprints. Listing papers in preparation is done by some, but not all.

In any case, if you have a stellar paper and you want people evaluating your record to be aware of that, write things neatly in your research statement and on your web site: it might do more good than saying that your paper is submitted to the Journal of Upper Snobiness. I like to have a small web page for each of my paper explaining what's in it, and it can be the place to talk about a particular achievement (make your case clear without being too presumptuous - a delicate equilibrium).

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