I plan to submit part of my current work to conference A. I then wish to submit my whole work to a more prestigious conference B. As for the part submitted to A, there is no point of repeating it again. So I will just cite my submission to A in my submission to B.

But the problem is that the submission deadlines for A and B are roughly the same. So actually the moment I submit the work to B, my partial work submitted to A has not been published yet. I have not even been notified of its acceptance.

Can I still cite it? My concern is that even if I can cite it, one will find nothing online.

  • 2
    I definitely do not see the point of citing an unavailable paper. As you do not repeat the part of A that would also belong to B, the first thing you have to do is to make A available before submitting B. How would the referees do their work otherwise? After that, citing is an issue easily settled. Aug 23, 2013 at 21:48
  • @BenoîtKloeckner But as I said, their deadlines are roughly the same. By no point, you mean the reviewers will have difficulties finding the paper? If that is the case, will arXiv fix that? Aug 24, 2013 at 1:25
  • 1
    My point is indeed that the referee have to have access to the paper needed to read the paper under review. arXiv is a good solution, if it is ok with your conference, as suggested by some answers. Aug 24, 2013 at 8:28

6 Answers 6


In principle you can cite other, submitted work in a research paper. Just give the authors, paper title, and either "Submitted." or "Submitted to [venue]." in the reference list.

However, both as a reviewer and reader, I usually find this disappointing. I already came across several cases where I wasn't able to find the cited paper even years after publication of the paper with the citation. It is well possible that the cited paper is rejected, and maybe someone just doesn't follow up to really get it published. As a better alternative, check whether you can put a preprint version of the paper you want to cite online (e.g. on arxiv), and just cite that.

  • 3
    But will putting it online say on arXiv affect the acceptance of the paper? I mean will the conference reject the paper since it is on arXiv. What's more, if the paper gets rejected, I may wish to refine it and re-submit to somewhere else. But if I put it onlione on arXiv, will anyone freely steal away my work? Aug 23, 2013 at 8:36
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    @perfectionm1ng 1) Check with the conference whether they do accept papers that have been published as preprints. 2) If someone steals from an arxiv paper, its clearly plagiarism, and you may even prevent that someone publishes the same idea before you.
    – silvado
    Aug 23, 2013 at 10:00
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    +1 for the suggestion to publish it on arxiv. Or just make it available on your website. In many parts of math, physics, and CS, most papers are published first this way. Aug 23, 2013 at 17:20
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    @DavidKetcheson May I ask most papers are published first this way for what reason? I don't understand in the cases except mine, why would they do it. Aug 24, 2013 at 1:27
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    Putting your work on the arXiv does not prevent other people to publish roughly the same thing, which sometimes happen on good faith, but it gives anteriority since the arXiv deposit is dated. Aug 24, 2013 at 12:01

You are allowed to cite works in submission as part of your ongoing research; this is something I've had to do on a number of instances for publications I wrote both in graduate school and as a post-doc.

The key here is that you must cite the work only as "Submitted to Conference A" rather than a standard reference to a work published in the proceedings. You would then, if possible, provide the conference paper A as an appendix or supporting information for the referees.


Citing something that is not published will prevent reviewers from doing their job, so it's a big no-no if you want to improve your chances of being accepted. The best way to go is to be patient and submit to B next year, having had the chance to improve using the reviews from A.

If this is not at all possible, you may be able publish A right now as a technical report from your lab/department an cite it as such. You'll have to check the guidelines of both conferences, namely if A accepts material previously published as a TR (in CS at least this is very common) and if B accepts citing TRs (usually also true in CS as long as it is easily available online).

Most importantly, when citing from a non-refereed source like a TR, you have to be very prudent in the way you characterize the work. Remember that it was only accepted in your department as an interesting document, not properly validated using the scientific contribution standards of your community. If I read a claim that something was "proven", or "shown", or "demonstrated" by a tech report, I'll probably reject the paper.

In any case, do not just cite A unless it is tangential (and in that case, why cite it all?). If it's actually important, give it an overview in your B submission, sufficient for a reviewer to keep on reading.

  • Just for clarification: you're saying that if I cite my older paper from my newer paper, then the reviewers of my newer paper will not be able to do their job of reviewing my newer paper by looking up references. Is that what you mean?
    – jvriesem
    Oct 5, 2019 at 16:40

I believe that there a few issues that need to be addressed in this situation:

  1. You believe that part A is based on fundamentally sound methodology and the findings will be accepted within the community of your discipline.
  2. Can you cite works in submission?
  3. Works in submission are not available to the public.

Whether of not Part A is widely accepted you can site it as a work in submission, the answer to the second concern is: you can also cite it as an unpublished work. For proper format check with the manual of style for your discipline.

An example of an unpublished work not submitted for publication using APA Manual of Style:
Lincoln, A. (1863). The principles of human equality.. Unpublished manuscript.

An example of a work in progress or submitted but not yet accepted using APA Manual of Style:
Lincoln, A. (1863). Gettysburg Address: The principles of human equality.. Manuscript submitted for publication (copy on file with author).

As far as the third concern goes, I have reviewed numerous submissions to everything from small local up to international conferences and the equivalent array of professional publications and journals, personally I prefer that a brief description of the "Part A" methods and finding be given in a manuscript. However, when it comes to an abstract and space limitations a simple "previously we (I) found...; therefore, we furthered the body of knowledge with..." was always sufficient for my standards.


Agreed with @aeismail♦, I just find a solution that indicated in IEEE conference paper template as follows:

"Papers that have not been published, even if they have been submitted for publication, should be cited as “unpublished”.

e.g. K. Elissa, “Title of paper if known,” unpublished."


I usually don't like to have many public versions of the same paper. I prefer releasing papers on arXiv only after receiving reviews and addressing relevant comments.

To address this issue, a solution I have been thinking about is to share the preprint I want to cite privately, i.e. only accessible for people reviewing the submission. This could be done by protecting paper access with a password that is given in the citation: e.g., J. Guerin, “Title of the paper”, unpublished, available at "URL", password:XXX. The citation can then be fixed once the cited papers is actually released.

Anyone has some comments about why this might be a bad idea? I don't see any problem so far.

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