I’m in the verge of finishing my PhD next year. I already know I don’t want to follow an academic career; still, I’ve come this far and will see it through (well... I have have a salary too...). I’m starting to look for positions in industry and would like to know how much having publications is appreciated by recruiters. Point in case, some data and drafts have been pilling up in my hard-drive during the last couple of years. Being honest, none of them make for a memorable publication or a significant contribution to science, but there is enough material for two or three submissions to specialized journals. Is it worth putting time and effort in finishing these papers if I’m going into industry? Will my CV look better if I add some publications on it? PS: This is in the context of the US and Europe and I’m getting a PhD in a STEM field.

  • 2
    if I’m going into industry What kind of industry jobs are you after?
    – Nobody
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:50
  • @scaaahu I have background in genetics, computational biology, statistics, programming experience...
    – user31319
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:53
  • 3
    How will you show the company that you are actually competent at performing technical work? Zero publications from a PhD in a STEM field is a bad sign.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


This depends upon your specific position within any given company. Check out Science Careers for discussions about this, but a summary of some examples for publishing and not publishing:

  • Some position will not require or expect any publications. These can be technical (e.g., run a machine all day or develop new proprietary methods), managerial, or other types such as sales.
  • Some positions will want prior publications to show that you can complete research projects but not expect you to publish when you are working them.
  • Some companies such as environmental consulting firms expect their scientists to publish so that they continue to be experts in their field and highlight their publications on their webpages (e.g., WEST).
  • Some companies publish with their clients (e.g., look at the author affiliations on this publication).

In summary, publication expectations in industry range from none to regular publications. I suggest you find people doing jobs you are interested in doing, get to know them, and see what their specific expectations are for publishing. The Ask-the-headhunter blog contains suggestions for breaking into new fields as does the previously mentioned Science Career page. Also, the Chronicle of Higher Education has many resource for people seeking "alternative" careers (e.g., here).


If you are getting a PhD, you will likely be in a job that tends to at least favor research somewhat. In my current job (enterprise data science, PhD in statistics), I do not write or publish any papers in journals. But we occasionally have to write patent applications or internal reports for our work. Having some documented experience in writing formal papers on your work is important. Published papers show that the community values your work. It tells management that someone beyond your advisor cares and that you would not just hand muffed through a PhD to clear room for more students.

Honestly, if I had a CV of someone with a PhD but no publications come across my desk, I would probably throw the application away. Unless the applicant had large amounts of other work (R packages, Patents, Turing Award, Fields Medal, etc) having no publications would raise major flags.

At the end of the day, it is not like someone is going to look at a CV with publications (even small ones) and say "Oh, he/she's published some papers...let's NOT hire this person. I really dislike applicants with publication experience. We certainly would not want to hire someone who has ever done any research!"

  • I'm not entirely sure there has ever been a Fields Medal winner applying to work in industry? Maybe Michael Freedman at Microsoft Station Q, but even that is a research institute at UC Santa Barbara. Or I'd be surprised if there was a Fields Medal or Turing Award winner with no publications. Seems like a superset relation. Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 0:04
  • Well, if rumors are true, a 28 year old Korean working for LG logistics is in line to win the Fields.
    – Vladhagen
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 0:19

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