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For an applicant to a high ranking U.S. graduate program in mathematics, how much more beneficial would it be to have a (coauthored) article published rather than accepted for publication?

(If more details are relevant, without possibly breeching anonymity, there are a few student authors and one faculty author. The article is on a recreational mathematics topic in an expository journal.)

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    If the only difference between "accepted for publication" and "published" is whether the paper appeared in the print version of the journal, then there is no difference. Journals often take a few month before having a paper printed, however, the papers are available at their website. – Mark Aug 22 '17 at 23:50
  • I would just say to make sure to be as honest as possible. If its just accepted, say it's accepted. If it's published, say it's published. You don't want to run into the case where something you assume something will be published, but then isn't. – Tyberius Aug 22 '17 at 23:55
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    If "accepted for publication" sounds weak to you for whatever reason (it shouldn't, but tastes vary) then you can use the (essential) synonym "in press", which does a better job at conveying the fact that after acceptance, all that remains is formalities. – E.P. Aug 23 '17 at 4:57
  • @Mark And sometimes, it takes way longer than a few months. But I agree that it makes no difference to how the paper will be perceived (as long as people are able to see the paper and judge the quality themselves). – Tobias Kildetoft Aug 23 '17 at 6:19
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As an item on your CV, it does not matter at all.

In fact, whether you have a research paper at all (particularly a recreational one), will likely make very little difference for admission to a good PhD program. (It may help more for less competitive schools.) That said, having a research experience can make a difference, mainly in how it affects: (1) your letters of recommendation, (2) your academic background, and (3) your personal statement. (See, e.g., Path to a good grad school in math during undergrad? and https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/44092/19607)

  • Wouldn't publishing a paper be one of the best ways, albeit a time-intensive one, to demonstrate research experience? Seems that actually having one's research written up for scrutiny (ideally, having already passed peer review) would be more trustworthy than self-reports of the experience. To be fair I know nothing about math as a discipline and ask to learn. – Philip Sep 1 '17 at 19:58
  • @Philip The point is that for pure math, and undergrad research experience (with a positive outcome or not) provides very little clue as to how successful you can be in grad school. It may be quite helpful for the student, but is not super useful for admissions committees. – Kimball Sep 1 '17 at 20:29
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I don't think published versus accepted for publication matters a lot for a PhD position (or indeed any position). The date of publication is determined by the editors (I think) and not by you. If your article is accepted for publication then it is already in final form (as far as the content - which for most mathematicians is the important thing - is concerned). The difference between published and accepted for publication is, in a sense, a mere formality.

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