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Publication in not-so-relevant field vs. relevant research experience and no pub

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It depends. Depending on the quality, a publication shows that you have the experience/ability to do peer-reviewed research, even if its not directly related to your chosen field. However depending on the chosen field, the topic of research, its relevance/importance then it might be better. Ideally do both.

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Thank you both, I really appreciate the feedback. I also really like the idea of doing both... 

I am mainly trying to show interest in my preferred field but also would like to strengthen my research experience. 

I *am* interested in the non-preferred-field research project so that is good, but I will see about coordinating it around the preferred option. And maybe, if I am lucky, a preferred-field research project will arise with a decent chance of publishing.

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