I'm currently my fourth year into a PhD in computer science. The PhD hasn't gone nearly as smoothly as I would have liked. There was a lot of changing the scope, and trying to re-identify a good research contribution. There was also a substantial prototype project involved that inevitably had bugs that took far too many hours to solve. I started trying to submit papers for conference by the end of my second year... but I have not met much success. There are only two major conferences that I am aware of that my research is directly applicable to, as well as a couple more general conferences. Since you can't submit the same paper to more than one venue at a time, and because a lot of the submission dates overlap, each year I've been making 2 or 3 submissions.
Each rejection I try to take the criticism on the chin, and use their recommendations for improving the next submission but it's still pretty disheartening. The most recent submission had 2 accepts and 1 reject on the peer review, and the paper was ultimately rejected for publication. As it stands I have a single paper from a PhD symposium giving some early results, and I have a conference publication from my Masters on a separate topic. Unfortunately, no one else in my department is working on the same material, and my supervisor has very little experience in the area, so I don't have any real opportunity to collaborate and bump up my publication count as a co-author.
I'm certain there is a real research contribution there and that if I keep revising and submitting the paper that it will eventually pass the reviewer-lottery and it will get published. I had wanted to become an academic, but with my lack of publication success I do wonder if that's still a viable career path.
So my question is- is getting published important enough that I should actually delay thesis submission until I finally get the main paper published?