Some conferences provide both the regular paper track and the tool paper (sometimes called short paper) track. My question is: Is the latter category of papers generally regarded as of lower standards than the former one? What would be your first impression before you start reading a paper that comes with "short paper" in its description or title?

An example of such regular paper vs. tool paper can be found in the recent call-for-papers of the Computer Aided Verification conference.

2 Answers 2


The distinction seems to be full vs. short. vs. tool paper.

Unambiguously, a full paper is far more important than a short paper. A "tool" paper where you describe a piece of software that implements theoretical work, particularly at the conference you cite, I think should be seen in a broader context.

If you had only published tool papers, I would think you're an early-stage PhD student. However, often tool papers are the culmination of theoretical work or are used to support empirical testing of theoretical work by the wider community. In this context having published a widely-used tool puts the researcher in good standing (they do theoretical work and make sure it is usable). In Computer Science areas where implementations are semi-common (by which I don't mean experiment), I think the researchers that are perceived "the best" do mostly theoretical work but also publish "tool papers". Other areas are purely-theoretical and yet others combine implementation and "theory" into a single paper (e.g., papers about how to debug).


I'm not sure that my area of CS is 100% comparable, since "tool paper" and "short paper" don't seem synonymous to me (I haven't seen any conference use "tool paper" as an official track name, but papers about tools feature regularly in the regular track).

But in my experience, yes, short paper is generally for lower-standard work, or more preliminary work. In fact, at all the conferences I have attended recently with regular and short paper tracks, the papers in the short paper track were mainly selected from the papers submitted to the regular track that didn't make the cut. Roughly speaking, first quartile gets to be full papers, second quartile short papers, the rest gets rejected. (Percentages vary with the quality of the conference, of course. Sometimes there's also a third tier of acceptance for posters.)

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