MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

First-author Publication GSBS Minimum Standard for PhD students

A requirement of the PhD degree is for the student to demonstrate the development of an original and significant body of dissertation research.  The quality, scope and depth of the research necessary to complete a PhD dissertation is determined primarily by the student's Advisory Committee which must approve the dissertation prior to graduation.  As a minimum standard, the GSBS requires all PhD students to produce at least one first-author peer-reviewed research publication based on their dissertation work.  As this is intended only as a minimum standard, the Advisory Committee may require a student to complete more research, including additional first-author publications, as part of the body of work necessary to complete the PhD degree.  

Please note that the specifics of the GSBS minimum standard differ depending on the year that the student first entered the GSBS:

Must submit one first-author research paper for peer-review and publication prior to defending their dissertation. 

Must submit one first-author research paper for peer-review prior to defending their dissertation and the paper must be accepted for publication before graduation.

Papers with multiple "first authors" 

A student who is designated as a co-first-author on a submitted or published paper is considered as the first author for the purposes of meeting the above minimum standards.

Review articles

Articles that review the scientific literature, conferences, or the recent findings of others, but do not include original presentations of research carried out by the student, do not meet the above minimum standard even if the article is peer reviewed. 

Exceptions to the GSBS Minimum Standard Publication Requirement

In cases where a student has clearly completed an original and significant body of research but unusual delays in the peer review process, or other causes, have prevented the publication of a first-author paper, the student may petition to the Advisory Committee for an exception to the minimum standard.  If the student's Advisory Committee agrees that an exception is warranted, it may recommend this to the GSBS Academic Standards Committee (ASC) for approval.  The Advisory Committee Chair should submit the recommendation in writing  to the GSBS with a rationale for why an exception should be made.  Considerations in making such exceptions will include unusual delays in peer-review, co-authored publications, the originality/quality of the unpublished work, and the best interests of the student.