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?

  • 2
    Could you defend your PhD first and continue as a postdoc for a while?
    – xuq01
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 4:36
  • I'd have to talk to my supervisor about it, though we don't have the greatest of relationships. But seeing as there wouldn't be any funding available, it seems fairly equivalent to holding off PhD submission in terms of being delayed in trying to establish some kind of career.
    – J Bellamy
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 8:15
  • If your relationship with your supervisor is bad, you are in trouble. Either build a relationship, or graduate and go elsewhere. You need mentorship.
    – Mox
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


I think you should consult with your sup regarding your situation to complete the Ph.D. and your future. Are the publications important for your graduation?

However, I think I have a more important question: Are you on scholarship or financial constraint? Can you live on your scholarship while waiting for the publication?

If this is not the case, I would suggest that you should submit your thesis, regardless of your publication status. After you submit the thesis, you can still be in the circle, such as doing casual teaching, marking, etc.

However, if your scholarship allows you to do that, then yes, you may wait. Nevertheless, publications while doing Ph.D. are not necessarily the only thing for you cross the bridge, but it is the experience. It is very difficult to get your paper accepted especially in a high-rank conference if you hardly get any proper supervision. With a good team, you may find publishing easier than right now.

  • Sadly my scholarship has already expired. I have been subsisting on TAing and the good graces of family. It's a good part of the reason why I'm kind of keen to just finish things, but I don't want to close doors for myself by doing so.
    – J Bellamy
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 8:52
  • 1
    Oh, and there are no requirements for publication to graduate thankfully at least.
    – J Bellamy
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 8:58
  • Ok. Can you still work as the TA or lecturer at least to keep yourself in the circle? It just if you finish it off, you are free to do anything. I am in the similar situation. One of the problems with Computer science is that if I would graduate later than now, the novelty and the contribution of my works will seemingly decrease. The idea will not be as fresh as if I finish it now. You should probably think about that too, right?
    – FGSn
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 9:28

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