I have a few papers, one of which is on a topic that, after thorough checking, has not been researched from this particular angle before.

My question is where can I publish this without going through peer reviewed academic journals? I only have my undergrad, and am looking to publish the work to make myself competitive for a PhD finance program. The paper is on real estate finance.

I just need a quick- one, two, you're published! Will finance programs look highly on this, or will they ignore it completely?

  • 53
    Publication typically is much more highly regarded if it is peer-reviewed. I am not always sure that this is justified, but that's the way it is. So, what's the point of publishing without peer-reviewing, if it's for your application? If, on the other hand, you want people to know about the result, and it's scientifically sound and scholarly written, you could try arXiv, if it's mathematical in content (e.g. finance mathematics). Mar 3, 2016 at 14:27
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    The easier it is to get it published, the less helpful it will be for getting into grad school. Anything like "a quick one, two, you're published!" will not be valued, because if anyone can easily do that, it tells you nothing about the author's qualifications.
    – BrenBarn
    Mar 3, 2016 at 17:57
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    Beware of journals that dont have a peer review process!They are generally full of garbage, and they are VERY BADLY seen in academia! Better nothing than something in a predatory journal! Mar 3, 2016 at 18:39
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    I hear /dev/null has no peer review process. Mar 4, 2016 at 8:42
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    people look highly on published work because it is peer reviewed
    – JamesRyan
    Mar 4, 2016 at 11:17

8 Answers 8


"…a quick- one, two, you're published!"

That's not how it works.

What works is:

  1. Make it a publicly available preprint (online repositories like arXiv, a preprint series of some institute, university, maybe via your personal website or blog…).
  2. Submit to some peer reviewed journal that complies with papers that are available as preprints (and there are journals that do not cost you anything; you will not get "open access" for free, but in many cases the preprint can stay freely available).
  3. Put the paper in your CV and add "submitted for publication".

Then the paper will be visible and checkable and it also shows that you know how scientific publishing works.


To the real question behind this, "will such non-peer reviewed papers count towards getting into a PhD program?", the answer is "probably not at all" (I'd be interested in proof that you can do worthwhile research that is regarded as such by people knowledgeable in the field, i.e., reviewers), "and it might even be harmful" (it looks an awful lot like trying to game the system, and cheating in any form is frowned upon).

  • 1
    I'm not really "game the system;" I think it would be explicitly apparent that my research was not published in a peer reviewed journal. But I may just attach my un-published papers as proof that I can do research effectively, as others have pointed out. I will also likely submit this paper to a peer reviewed journal.
    – Devin
    Mar 3, 2016 at 17:38
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    @Devin, then get them published as e.g. a technical report or something like that.
    – vonbrand
    Mar 3, 2016 at 19:15
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    @Devin, the problem for beginners is that just generating a document is not really persuasive that they "can do research effectively". Admissions committees are not usually inclined to read all the documents that come their way, but would prefer to have the "vetting" done by others, e.g., referees. (I am not such a fan of refereed journals, don't get me wrong...) Mar 3, 2016 at 19:47
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    @paulgarrett: True, but then, "just" generating a document (that looks and reads like a publishable document, in style, grammar, orthography, choice of words, and structure, upon the first attempt without many iterations of remarks and revisions) is something that an awful lot of STEM students at the Bachelor level seem to be hopelessly overburdened by. As such, I could see why peer-reviewed or not, the mere existence of one or a few such documents could be a slight plus. Mar 3, 2016 at 19:58
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    @Devin, although I'm not acquainted so much specifically with "finance" journals, no, I'd not expect that an undergrad to have gotten something through the refereeing process. (Calling it "peer review" makes it sound better and more idealistic than it really is.) If you want to send an un-refereed paper as part of your applications, have some more experienced person check at least the superficial aspects: format, language, citation style, tone, and approximate general correctness... to avoid gaucheries. :) Mar 3, 2016 at 20:31

You could put it on your blog, but it will probably be ignored. Part of the point of peer review is to help make sure that what you have published is new knowledge and not just a rehash of old things. So some experts in the field are asked to check. There are other reasons for peer review, but those might not be relevant here. Why do you want to avoid it?

  • 1
    Again, it's a timing issue. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this particular project, so I would rather not muddy the water by publishing it online without peer review. But if it will help me get into a top PhD program, it may be worth the sacrafice.
    – Devin
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:34
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    Perhaps you can submit it as a Technical Report of your Alma Mater? You would need to ask your previous supervisor (or someone else) for support, though. Mar 3, 2016 at 14:37
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    I don't see how peer review muddies anything. If you want to keep the value of your hard work, I'd hang onto your results until you can publish them properly. A non-peer-reviewed "publication" unless it's in The Economist or Financial Times isn't likely to help your PhD application very much. If you can condense it down and get it published as an editorial in a periodical, then it might help.
    – Bill Barth
    Mar 3, 2016 at 14:38
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    Taint, probably not, since it doesn't make it worse. But not getting it peer reviewed will certainly make it less valuable for PhD applications.
    – Bill Barth
    Mar 3, 2016 at 15:38
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    A Technical Report sounds like the least bad option so far.
    – Simon B
    Mar 3, 2016 at 17:03

I strongly advocate against this solution (beware, unethical scientific behavior), just answering part of your needs.

There exist low-standard journals (predatory publishers), that publish "anything": they claim they have peer-review, but you just have to pay fees and bam, your paper is published in a (so-called) journal and often open-access.

If you are lucky, your targets won't bother or won't check the quality of the journals. And you will get the payback of your investment in low-standard publishing.

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    Should be taken as a warning, not a recommendation
    – vonbrand
    Mar 4, 2016 at 1:24
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    I hope I have been clear enough Mar 4, 2016 at 10:08
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    And - if you're unlucky they will check and decide that either - you're gullible, or you're trying to trick them. I wouldn't take a student who had published in such a journal.
    – Joel
    Mar 7, 2016 at 2:58
  • Of course, misconduct has downsides Mar 7, 2016 at 6:11
  • @Joel I have hired a postdoc whose first conference paper was in one of these spam conferences. It was a mistake, he was not supervised, and did not know. He was a great postdoc. I'd suggest asking the student first before making a decision Mar 7, 2016 at 21:28

Publication without peer-review isn't really publication, in any real academic sense. Might as well just print it up and send them a copy, or stick it on a web site.

  • 3
    It is literal publication. It's not status-enhancing "publication". I shudder to think that "in any real academic sense" would exclusively refer to status-enhancing activities, disjoint from literal publication and accessibility of the fruits of academic labor. Mar 4, 2016 at 14:40
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    But just doing something and putting it out there is meaningless. Peer review exists in part to make sure people don't just turn out garbage.
    – roseofjuly
    Mar 4, 2016 at 23:13
  • One problem is that if OP publishes "without peer review" (except for a technical report or an informal preprint on e.g. arXiv) the paper can not be published formally (with peer review) later on.
    – vonbrand
    Mar 6, 2016 at 20:11

This already has a lot of suggestions but if you have research you are thinking about making publicly available without peer-review, consider https://www.journalunpublishedresearch.com/.


I recommend github or something similar. It is a format that is more conducive to collaboration.

Graduate committees are not going to consider this to be research, but it does show research interest. This should count for something (though probably not much).

Way more importantly, the sooner you get started collaboratively researching the better.


Self publish

There are several open-access and open-source initiatives and websites. You are now able to self-publish at different websites.

Open access publishing

You could upload it on Zenodo and/or ResearchGate. The additional benefit of publishing it at Zenodo is a permanent DOI link referring to your uploaded PDF. If you update it in the future with another version of your document, that link will always point to your newest version.

Zenodo is a European initiative of several European organisations, and everyone is free to publish there in an open-access and open-source way.

  • I would caution that while this is indeed "publishing" in the more general sense, it is not what academics usually mean when they say "publish". I would describe something like Zenodo as an "archive" or "repository" rather than a publisher.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 8, 2023 at 17:27
  • @BryanKrause You're right, they call themselves: "Zenodo is a general-purpose open repository" but you can also request peer review at so-called communities and those are usually educational institutions, European or American organisations or universities. Dec 8, 2023 at 20:33
  • I wouldn't really call that peer review. Anyone can create a Community on Zenodo, and a Community can decide which works get associated with that Community. It doesn't mean they are peer reviewed in the sense of academic peer review (which involves having an academic work reviewed by relatively impartial peers), it just means that whoever created that Community (or the people they designate) can decide which items deposited in Zenodo can be grouped into that Community.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 8, 2023 at 21:07
  • For example, when you become a PI with your own lab, you could create a Cavdar Lab Community and have your graduate students submit all their papers there as a way of organizing papers from your research group. When someone from your lab submits a paper to your community, you would review and accept it; if someone else submitted a paper to your community, you would review and reject it because that would defeat the purpose of keeping an organized community of Cavdar Lab papers, not because you deemed the work shy of academic standards in your field.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 8, 2023 at 21:08
  • You would also want your lab members to submit their work to academic journals so that they would go through the academic peer review process, because your Cavdar Lab Community is just a way of archiving and organizing your lab's work, not "publishing" in the academic publishing sense.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 8, 2023 at 21:09

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