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.)

Background Information:

I am a doctoral student at a premier institute which is also a hospital. Most of the administrative positions are handled by professors who are also clinicians and researchers. Sad as it might be, there are a lot of things for which the bar is quite low. Three specific examples:

  • the cafeteria on campus has absolutely rock-bottom level of quality/hygiene standard
  • similar low standard when it comes to maintenance of washrooms etc.
  • impossibly poor standards of on-campus residences

These are usually taken care of by administrative staff but at the end of the day are under administrative control of one or the other faculty (honorary “in-charges”). Not only these set a very poor impression when we have visitors but it also lowers the morale of the research staff. Sustained exposure to such a pathetic environment impairs productivity and there is always a prevalent air of gloom among students on the campus. Somehow it seems that the administrators are not interested in remedying any such situation and things seem to have become worse in the recent years.

Question:

Is it potentially harmful* for students to send formal complaints to the administrators requesting action to be taken? In case the administrator does nothing, should it be sent higher up in the hierarchy? How should attention be brought to such things so that they are resolved?

*harmful in terms of being bullied by senior faculties in the future; having carrier plans blocked because the same faculties might be on your review committees, et al

What I have tried to do:

I have sent anonymous emails to which I have either not received any reply or else have received a reply explicitly asking me to disclose my identity. In either case, complaints have never been worked on. I have tried to speak to my advisor about this but he has never been encouraging about the idea of formally writing complaints because of similar concerns mentioned above.

Several well-established journals nowadays allow self-archiving or sharing of articles through an institutional repository. For instance, Elsevier allows immediate sharing of the accepted manuscript via the author’s non-commercial homepage and, after an embargo, through their institutional repository. Springer has similar rules. More in general you can check on Sherpa/Romeo for any journal’s policies.

So I am wondering: is it worth it paying for the open access option, when we can just choose our publisher wisely, and then prepare a nicely formatted version of our accepted articles to share them online?

I am a PhD student currently doing research at a top engineering school in North America.

I am becoming more and more jaded at the fact that a sizable portion of the research conducted at my university as well as publications to engineering conferences seem to have very limited practical relevance, and with no attempts to address implementation concerns. Many of these papers seem to be published just for the sake of it.

  • One glaring example is power engineering. The methodologies
    proposed by recent graduates from power engineering are so extremely far-fetched from practical implementation, it raises the question as to why any such
    research should be continued.

    Power is a very safety critical field: people can die after going for too long without power, and the industry itself is highly government regulated. The algorithms that have been proposed from my
    research department as well as many like it completely ignore things
    like safety guarantees. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that
    government employees in the power industry would rely on some biology
    motivated or learning based algorithm to arrange the power supply to millions of actual
    people. There are decades old well-regulated power markets for that!

  • But power is just one example out of many. I have read many papers on
    signal processing and control theory. Most of the papers are completely
    math and proof based; their proposed methods are so mathematical, with extremely limited robustness or safety guarantees, etc. These researchers are more concerned with epsilons and deltas than how their proposed methods can be realistically
    implemented in people’s cars or mobile phones.

    An “implementation”
    nowadays is just a MATLAB simulation, a few equations and a graph. Even during undergraduate
    engineering training, we have seen how difficult it is to go from
    simulation to actual software/hardware that people can use. I can easily show you highly technical papers from these fields published by people who do not even care about the readability of their notation, let alone practical implementation.

  • So it is a legitimate question as to why anyone would ever use these
    highly-theoretical, and assumption laden research results. It is
    unclear what “the small-gain signal must belong to a Hilbert space on
    the extended half-line” actually means in real life cache design. Furthermore, many
    papers are wholly without any mention of practical implementation of
    the algorithms, so it is completely unknown if anyone would actually
    be able to use these research results.


Engineering research is ultimately used to create new technologies that promise to improve the lives of people. However, it is unknown to me at this point how a “bat-echolocation based metaheuristic algorithm for nuclear generator dispatch” could benefit anyone.

So my question boils down to how we as researchers should attempt to bridge the gap between the highly mathematical, highly theoretical modern engineering research and the practical implementation of research results. What good is engineering research with no practical relevance?

I’m writing an Msc dissertation on planning space projects and I would like to add interesting bits of information on the opening page of each chapter. Though the image and the accompanying information are not directly linked to the central thesis, they add some interest around the main arguments.

Will this be looked upon unfavorably? As an academic reading this work, will this bother you or make you feel distracted / think this is unnecessary?

For example, I have this on the introduction page:

Intro

Recently I received a rejection from a top journal. But when the editor in chief sent me the rejection email, she included the name of the associate editor that handled my paper. This associate editor works in a department which has a job opening this year that I have applied. So I’m nervous because if the associate editor can see my name, he could think negatively of me because of my paper, which could affect my chance to get the job. So can the associate editor see the author’s name on their paper? Thank you!

Background:

I am a BSc student in Physics. The project work for us is divided into three phases: a 2-week summer project, and two project work through the year. All end with a report written by me, the latter of which is the thesis. Students can choose their project for each part, but they are encouraged not to do so, as they’d have a year of work for the thesis.

The summer project I chose is one that seems to be really beneficial for my career and experience. (many of the labour members work at a company I’d like to work as well.) I should soon choose a project to work on.

Problem:

I always wanted, and want, to work on hands-on experiments, rather than (or more likely, in addition to) calculating/programming/simulating. However, the laboratory’s core instrument lost its core component because of a malfunction at the beginning of July and hasn’t worked since.

This prevented all the planned experiments in my summer project (among all experimental work of the laboratory, so you can imagine how hard they are all working on this…), and I had to do simulation work instead. While I have no problem with this kind of work, I prefer practical experimentation and was disappointed.

All they can now say is they “really hope” it will start to work in a month. I, however, don’t want another half year of simulations. I am thinking about joining another research group for a semester now, and after that, if they have the laser up and running, come back to them. I know some project I would go, but neither of them as suitable in the long term as this.

This way though I’d have only half a year of work for my thesis, and I can’t get unlimited laser time to catch up. Also, I don’t know how the professors would think about this. (Would this hurt my relationships with them?…) I asked my supervisor, and from their answer I found that though they don’t want to “chain” me to themselves because of the situation, they are concerned. All in all, I should decide on my own.

What do you think about this? Should I change project for half a year?