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Value of Mediocre Publications

  1. Oct 3, 2009 #1
    So I was recently informed by a professor whose lab I worked in that the resulting paper had been published in Physics Review E, with me as second author. I get the impression this is a journal with low to no standards, although no hard evidence to support that. In my opinion the paper itself was very mediocre with no real goal or conclusion. It honestly would be hard for me to talk up this paper or put it on a resume. I'd rather not get too far into why that happened or what the paper is about, but I had minimal influence on the actual writing of the paper and pretty much just did the actual work of conducting all of the experiments. Has anyone here had a similar experience? What is the value of a paper like this on grad school applications? Will I get laughed at?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2009 #2


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    I don't think there is a journal called "Physics Review E":confused:

    Physics Review is -as far as I know- a British journal for students, i.e. I don't think they even accept research papers. And there is no "E" edition.

    Unless of course you mean Physical Review E, which is a good and well-known journal published by APS.
  4. Oct 3, 2009 #3
    Yes my mistake I meant the Physical Review E.
  5. Oct 3, 2009 #4
    There is nothing wrong with that publication as far as I know. Some of the best papers I've read were in Phys Rev.
  6. Oct 3, 2009 #5
    While not on the level of Science or even Physical Review Letters, Physical Review journals are still important in their areas of research... and of course certainly better than nothing. It's therefore useful putting on your applications to graduate school (as well as any presentations that may have been associated with the research).

    What's most valuable to stress on your application is your gained experience. Even if you "just did the actual work" I'm sure that as actual work you learned actual skills there... making samples (maybe via depositions techniques, wet chemistry, etc.?), analyzing the samples (via some form of spectroscopy or electric measurement perhaps even by some piece of equipment you built?), and organizing the data (checking for reproducibility, changing a variable in some way systematically, processing the data for some result, etc.)

    Discussing your research experience is critical in your statement of purpose (sometimes talked about in these forms as the "SOP") and having your letters of recommendation support your SOP (saying how you took responsibility in the lab) is also important.
  7. Oct 3, 2009 #6


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    There is definitly nothing wrong with publishing in PRE. I don't know which field you are in, but in my area there are only a few journals more important than PRE and they all publish letters (3 or 4 pages) and are aimed at non-specialist (meaning they publish papers from many different fields, e.g. PRL, APL etc); when it comes to longer articles and articles aimed at "specialists" Physical Review B is about as good as it gets.
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