What are “Best Practices” for working papers?

Image credit: mintea

Here’s one of those enduring academic questions that I’ve never quite felt like I had a good answer for. When is it a good idea to advertise, promote, or distribute your “work in progress” papers? Specifically:

  • Do you list working papers on your C.V.? Do you only list the ones that are “pretty far” along? Or, do you list a whole bunch when you’re about to go on the market to show visible signs of progress?
  • Do you post working papers on your website? Do you submit working papers to SSRN? Or, if you school has its own working paper library, have you sent copies there?
  • What if someone asks you for a copy of a working paper that is listed on your C.V. or website, when is it a good idea (or a bad idea) to send it to them?

When I look at professor’s websites and vitas I see a wide variety of practices around working papers, so I know there is no one “right way.” Still, there’s probably some better and worse approaches!

What do you think? Any ideas about when you might want to do what?


3 Responses

  1. Excellent question, Steven. When I think about working papers, a number of issues come to mind. One, posting working papers on a CV and/or a website inevitably results in more maintenance. I know that I designed my professional website with very low maintenance in mind. Second, a mentor once told me not to mention a working paper on a CV unless you are prepared to talk about it as if you were currently working on it. In other words, don’t list a bunch of working papers just to show signs of “progress”, so to speak.

    Our school doesn’t have a working paper library, so I’m not sure how they work. As far as providing copies of working papers to other people, that is a really good question. I would probably err on the side of not providing a working paper to someone. Or, if I did provide one, I may include a “Do not cite” disclaimer on the title page. I dunno – that’s a tough call.

  2. Hi Nick, thanks for sharing your thoughts. That’s very very helpful for me 🙂

  3. Personally, I’ve found posting working papers on SSRN to be a good way to get early feedback and network within the community, but that’s been my take. Different professors will give you different advise, ranging from not to post working papers (less you reveal your research too early/before publication) to post your papers as a way to demonstrate your research and works in progress prior to finishing your PhD (schools like to hire candidates who have a lot of works already in the pipeline, preferably already submitted to journals for consideration).

    That said, I do not list all my working papers on my CV, rather I just provide a short link to SSRN in case folks are interested, http://ssrn.com/author=745562

    That’s my two cents…

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