If a PhD student (hard sciences like math, physics) decides to work in industry after graduation, are publications important?

For transition to industry, what are the most important factors to take note of during one's PhD?

Thanks for any advice.

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    In computer science, I was advised, by several people, to remove my publication list from my CV. Matter of fact, the whole structure of the CV is different. While they may consider the publications at some point, it seems rather secondary... May 21, 2017 at 9:02
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    By "work in industry", do you mean one of the few industry research jobs directly connected to your area of PhD research, or something requiring some technical knowledge but not particularly connected to your PhD, or something with no specific technical requirements at all (but for which the general skills you gained doing a PhD are likely to still be helpful)? May 21, 2017 at 16:49
  • @AlexanderWoo I mean something like data scientist or quantitative finance for instance, which may not be related to PhD.
    – yoyostein
    May 21, 2017 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


Publications demonstrate several things such as:

  1. Ability to conduct, complete, and document work
  2. Ability to communicate clearly
  3. Interest in broadening the field's knowledge
  4. Interest in staying aware of the "state-of-the-art"

All of these are good attributes to demonstrate with a publication record. Continuing to publish in industry is also valuable, but it is seldom "publish or perish."

Regarding important factors: use elements of your Ph.D. to demonstrate that you can work independently to solve difficult problems. A strong work ethic and ability to solve problems are key traits that employers are looking for.

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    This answer is not wrong, but I feel it somehow fails to point out the difference between "publications" (a few examples of published works in any kind of research or otherwise venue, showing that the applicant is capable of the points described in this answer) and the "publication record" (the full list of publications, each indicating the research publication type, showing that the applicant produces a steady stream of publications in somewhat prestigious research venues year after year). May 21, 2017 at 19:55

For transition to industry, the important factor will be the ability to quickly convince the potential employer that you're the best person for the specific job. Which typically means you have to tailor your resume/CV to each employer.

Keep in mind that a potential employer typically have to go through many resume/CV within a short period of time. The person deciding which candidates should be shortlisted for interview may not be familiar with your research area. There may also be several candidates with PhD from different areas applying for the same job, along with a number of candidates with experience in the type of work similar to the position being advertised. So simply listing all your publications isn't helpful.

Instead, try to explain how your research experience makes you the best choice. Emphasize some of the research experience or publications that are quite relevant to the position. For example, if you're applying for a job as data scientist at an e-commerce company, and you have publications related to, say, automatic mining of customer opinions or automatic discovery of substitute/complementary product relationship, then it may be good to mention and emphasize that as evidence of your suitability for the job.

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