Ahmad finished his master’s with 15 publications. After trying for a year, he could not get a PhD scholarship. He was not sure what was the reason for his rejection and asked me for advice. I told him that his publications are the reason why he is not getting a scholarship. You might be thinking the same as he thought after hearing my comment: “What do you mean?” Here are the 5 reasons why your publications are the reason you are not getting a scholarship.

1. Quantity without quality

We know that publishing is good. What we do not know is that having one publication in nature is much better than having hundreds of publications in predatory journals that nobody knows. Your publication record immediately shows what type of work you did. Therefore, focus on having one good publication instead of having hundreds of low quality. By good quality, I mean papers that are well written and published in high-ranked journals.

2. Predatory journals: Something is not better than nothing

We believe that publishing is good for our profile. It improves our CV and makes us a good candidate. However, publishing in predatory journals is worse than having no publication at all. It says two things about you. First, you did not do quality work (same as somebody without a publication). Second, you also do not know what are predatory journals. That is why, publishing in predatory journals will make you look like a bad candidate, even in comparison with somebody who does not have any publication. Learn more about predatory journals and how to avoid them.

3. You published more than you could

Publishing is not an easy task. First, you have to do experiments for months and sometimes up to years. Then you have to analyze your data and finally write a paper. If you published 15 papers in a master’s, it immediately says that something is fishy about your work. Most of the PhDs do not publish 15 papers so how could a master’s student publish so many papers.

4. Your papers contain several authors

Papers are mostly written by several authors and collaboration is always encouraged in science. However, if 30 people are the authors of a minor paper that requires no collaboration, there might be something wrong with the publication. Evaluators might perceive that you did not earn the right to be in the publication. In comparison, if you have a paper as a first author, you will be evaluated positively.

5. You cannot explain what you published

Publishing an article means that you have done extensive research on the topic. If you cannot explain your work in a simple and straightforward manner, it means that you did not do the work in the first place and probably did not deserve to be an author. Learn how to present your papers effectively during interviews. Prepare a brief summary of your paper and get ready for some relevant questions.

If you are applying for a PhD scholarship, check out this article to get some tips.

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