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A year to just do research

  1. Aug 9, 2010 #1
    Hi all, I'm in an M.S. physics program, and am about to graduate May 2011. I do not have anything published yet, despite a summer's worth of research (which was very slow-going!). I want to be a theoretical physicist.... a competitive field. So: I need extra time to publish something ebfore I go knocking on the doors of PhD programs. If I have hard results "published and out there", PhD programs are going to take my application much more seriously. I know publication is not a prerequisite for application, but 1) to "get good" at research seems to me will make the PhD experience a little easier 2) I will have more time to study for the Physics GRE 3) I can live cheaply at my parents house, so why not?

    Are there any downsides to the plan I am rosily-describing right here?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2010 #2


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    The disadvantages I see to this are:

    1. It's unsupervised, which means you will not have access to guidance you need when, for example you submit something and the referees come back with pages of comments and you need to know what's important.

    1b. If you have a friendly professor who says he or she will still help you, that's fine, but remember, if you're not a student, you go straight to the bottom of the priority list.

    2. Without regular meetings, working from home, you need to be extremely self-disciplined to stay on track.

    3. Have you thought about library access? How are you going to read the journals you need to reference?

    4. What happens if you go through an additional year and still have no publication?

    I might recommend applying to PhD programs next summer anyway. If you get in to the place you want to go, why waste a year?
  4. Aug 9, 2010 #3


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  5. Aug 14, 2010 #4
    Is there ANY way to beef up my application to a PhD program? I'm going to try and take the Physics GRE, and do well in the rest of my classes, and my summer-research. But surely there's more I can do? I just want to go to a school that will train me really hard to do research and handle the publishing process, and which has advanced (beyond core) classes in supercondutvitiy theory...
  6. Aug 15, 2010 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    I think you need to rethink this plan.

    Let's look at it objectively - you described a summer of supervised research as "slow-going", so your plan is to extend this to a whole year, drop the supervision, and have an original contribution to human knowledge at the end?
  7. Aug 15, 2010 #6


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    I'm not sure what you're looking for here. There's no secret back door. Maximize your grades - particularly in the more advanced classes. Prepare as much as you can for the GRE. And you already have some research experience, so try to do as good a job at that as you can. If it doesn't result in a journal publication, you could try to get a conference abstract out of it.
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