Hi, I am a sophomore undergraduate and I have a question about the importance of research experience for grad school applications (from senior year to masters or phd). I have read that research experience and letters of recommendation are the two main factors for top 10 grad school admissions. I am confused, as, from my own experience, the quality of research experience you can get is extremely dependable on luck. What I mean by that is that the results of your research (as well as recommendation letters) can vary tremendously depending on some factors that are usually out of your control in REU's and even inside your own research university: your research group, project and mentor. Depending on the conditions, you could either have an amazing and productive research experience, with potentially some co-authored papers, or a completely disappointing and unproductive one. You could end up with an advisor that ignores you completely or with one that really cares about your research/project and makes sure you get the most out of it. Both have already happened to me. Given that, isn't it unfair that so much emphasis on grad school applications is put on publication record? Many students with little/not stellar research experience might just not have had a good experience that was able to make the most of their abilities.