I'm finishing my master's degree in physics and I'm searching for a PhD position. A potential professor for PhD is almost 60 years old and he has not published any paper since 2014!

What do you think about this?

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  • How regularly has he published up until 2014? – Mark Sep 15 '17 at 8:06
  • I think about 3 papers per year. – Immanuel Sep 15 '17 at 8:07
  • It's likely that he stopped caring about publishing himself and lets his students get all the glory. – Attila Kinali Sep 15 '17 at 9:48
  • So, is it advisable? I'm afraid, he has no motivations and projects anymore in head. – Immanuel Sep 15 '17 at 9:54
  • 1
    You could send him an e-mail and ask if he's taking on new students or projects at this point? also possible that he just has not bothered updating the place you looked for his publications. – virmaior Sep 15 '17 at 11:12

You are concerned that this professor does not publish because she/he ran out of ideas and motivation. Although this could be the case, there are other possibilities, which I want to point to you:

  • They are working on a very large and important textbook and don't have time to publish.
  • They have a lot of PhD students and allow them to publish as a single author (a bit unusual these days, but still happens)
  • They don't cope well with modern technology (computers, word processors, simulation tools, etc), and rely on their students to help them put their ideas into final publication.

I suggest talking to professor and asking these questions face-to-face.

  • 3
    Option 1 seems realistic indeed and is impossible to find out without asking. Option 2 is realistic, too, but can be found without asking, assuming a website where the students are listed. Option 3 would be surprising, given that publication technology hasn't changed so much since 2014. – lighthouse keeper Sep 15 '17 at 10:11
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    The Prof might've had a student until 2014, but no-one to assist later. – Dmitry Savostyanov Sep 15 '17 at 10:38

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