Fakesmile

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I have an appointment with a potential PI to discuss a possible project with him. Would it be appropriate to ask him if the project is highly likely to be published soon? If he says no, then can I ask him if he can give me a project more likely to be published? I don't necessarily want a first author, but just a coauthor will be fine (though I wouldn't want to be like 10th author). I've worked in another lab for two years and I had no luck with publication. I wouldn't want that to happen again with this new lab.
 

BlueElmo

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Well, it wouldn't hurt to ask. But if he says no, I wouldn't press the matter further, it will just look like you're trying to take advantage of the system, IMO.
 

JokerMD

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don't ask. seriously, esp. if you are still in undergrad. it will give the PI a really bad vibe. The point of undergrads getting involved in research is not simply to get published so you can put it on your app for med school. The point is to learn something and in the process, if you have some great ideas, may be you can get published. People don't get published for simply running gels and doing some PCR. you need to have some MAJOR contribution to the design, execution, and manuscript.

a better way to approach the situation would be to actually read up a lot on the topic and PROPOSE some ideas that are feasible (financially and time-wise).
 

JJMrK

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I wouldn't ask something like this. If you go into a research experience as an undergrad expecting to get a publication, you might come out disappointed.

As an aside, 10th author is better than no author, and more than most applicants have.
 

Phosphorus Ylide

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I would highly recommend against it. You would appear to be insincere and only interested in the project only due to your own personal gains. Not good at all.
 

plsletmein

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I agree with all the above sentiments. It's like a person going to his boss on his first day of work and asking for a raise before putting in a second of work, and if the boss says no, then asking when he will get that raise. It's extremely insincere and just plain stupid to do.
 

Narmerguy

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I wouldn't ask this on the first time setting out but I would ask it later on down the road after you've put in some good work (that is, if it's important to you that you have a publication). Make sure you make clear that you're not in it for the publication but just want to have an idea of what the goals and timeline of your current project are.
 

austinap

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I have an appointment with a potential PI to discuss a possible project with him. Would it be appropriate to ask him if the project is highly likely to be published soon? If he says no, then can I ask him if he can give me a project more likely to be published? I don't necessarily want a first author, but just a coauthor will be fine (though I wouldn't want to be like 10th author). I've worked in another lab for two years and I had no luck with publication. I wouldn't want that to happen again with this new lab.

Wow, usually I'm the one telling everyone to settle down and be more sincere, etc. In this case, I say go for it, but if he says no, don't push it.

Publication is the name of the game, and if you're at a reasonably large research institution, I promise you that your PI wants the publication as much as you (unless he's looking towards retirement in the next ~5 years). Depending on how much time you'll be spending with the lab, realize that you're very unlikely to get a good first author paper out as an undergrad. You may get a first author in a lesser journal, but more likely you'll get a second or third authorship. If you bring this up right away, your PI will likely be able to tell you _exactly_ what you'll need to show scientifically to get published. At least then you'll have some concrete goals to work towards.
 

Remuneration

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As someone else mentioned, it's good to ask about the goals of the project and the tentative timeline for achieving those goals. If the project is directly related to your PI's grant, (s)he'll already have a timeline for completing each specific aim. Side project's can be more tricky in terms of timeline to completion, but are usually reasonably small or straightforward.

Being able to relate the overall goals to the details of your experiments is part of being a good scientist. However, don't present yourself as overly eager for publication, and don't expect one to come of your work (at least during your time in the lab). If the project sounds interesting, go for it, stay in close contact with your PI about your results and the work that remains to be done, and hope for the best.
 

shiftingmirage

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Ask for a timeline on the project. That way you can think about fitting it in whith your other obligations/hobbies, and maybe in the timeline there is a preparation of manuscript phase, or a submission phase. I would think that comes across better.
 

fMRI

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Would it be appropriate to ask him if the project is highly likely to be published soon?

If he says no, then can I ask him if he can give me a project more likely to be published? I don't necessarily want a first author, but just a coauthor will be fine (though I wouldn't want to be like 10th author). I've worked in another lab for two years and I had no luck with publication. I wouldn't want that to happen again with this new lab.
Are you actually interested in the work they are doing? The actual research project?

All the PIs I worked (and published) with would be reluctant to have you in the lab. Remember, a lab is where graduate students work, doctoral students, post-docs and other full-time researchers -- a pre-med undergraduate student who simply wants his/her name in print as soon as possible can be toxic to this environment. That said, you should definitively ask because it is important to you. This will allow the PI to figure out more easily if you fit in (or not). Timelines in a lab aren't organized according to undergraduate students. That's just the way it is.

BTW, do you know how long it takes for a paper to be submitted, peer-reviewed, revised, re-submitted and finally be published in a reputable journal? Maybe you need to rethink your aspirations. Or publish in a low impact journal, but then, no reputable lab would settle for that as goal.

Best of luck.
 
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Narmerguy

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Publication is the name of the game, and if you're at a reasonably large research institution, I promise you that your PI wants the publication as much as you (unless he's looking towards retirement in the next ~5 years).
That doesn't necessarily mean that the OP will be included when it's published though.
 
OP
Fakesmile

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Are you actually interested in the work they are doing? The actual research project?
Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.

BTW, do you know how long it takes for a paper to be submitted, peer-reviewed, revised, re-submitted and finally be published in a reputable journal? Maybe you need to rethink your aspirations. Or publish in a low impact journal, but then, no reputable lab would settle for that as goal.
I know how long it takes for that to happen so I'm going to stay in the lab for at least two years to maximize my chances.
 

orrghead16

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I know how long it takes for that to happen so I'm going to stay in the lab for at least two years to maximize my chances.
Two years isn't nearly long enough. You really need to do four things:
1. have your PI like you, a lot.
2. Generate a ton of data.
3. Be able to work through the manuscript procedure and peer review after, which often takes 2 years AFTER "finishing" a publishable project.
Most important, 4. You have to have the brain to do it. It was already said that someone running gels doesn't get published. You need to be able to contribute to the project other than being a pipette machine.

90% of the time you just can't do that in 2 years of UG. Even UGs that have spent 4 years in the lab, full time have a tough time doing it.

I think most good PIs would be flat up with you when you interview--the ones I have talked to have always said something along the lines of "and you will of course held accountable for your research if you achieve enough". I'd expect something like that. Unless you have proven you are a total bad azz in the lab already, I wouldn't even worry about asking.
 

fMRI

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4. You have to have the brain to do it.

90% of the time you just can't do that in 2 years of UG. Even UGs that have spent 4 years in the lab, full time have a tough time doing it.

OK, I'm not sure how many of you have published, but we count 2 months for drafting and writing (a couple of weekends and pizzas) and revisions before sending something off after the part of the project is completed. Waiting for an answer from a peer-reviewed journal is unpredictable. We had "requires minor/major revisions" back by something like 2 to 4 weeks while other papers took much longer. (Check editorial policies in the journals you wish to send your work to.) This also has a lot to do with how "hot" your topic is and how easily accessible peer-reviewers are, and how well organized the journal is. A paper we never got published sat with a journal for over 7 or 8 months and we already forgot about it (LOL) when the "please send to a different journal" polite answer arrived. :sleep: I'd say the average wait for peer-review is about 2 months. Revisions take another months (minor like 1-2 weeks, major up to 4-6 weeks) if the team is easily accessible and if people work well together. Off it goes again. If accepted, it can appear as "epub ahead of print" in as little as a three weeks. The actually print journal takes usually another two months (if your paper is scheduled for the next issue and the journal appears frequently).

This is just personal experience. Depending on the field you work in, this obviously differs. :p

Good luck!
 

NickNaylor

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I would definitely stay away from asking that kind of question. It just doesn't strike me well. I would get into the lab, stick at it for a bit, and if you're not happy with what's going on, THEN bring it up. If you do a good job to start, you'll be more likely to get more independent work rather than scut work.
 

sully677

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No. I wouldn't ask. You can't come into a lab expecting pubs. If you work hard, you will probably get one. Don't go searching around for labs or projects just to get published.