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While conferences seem to be the norm in the field, I am interested in the fraction of papers that are accepted to CS journals.

It seems (to me) that due to the fact that unlike conferences journals can accept a much more flexible number of articles, it is easier to get a paper accepted to a journal (comparing top-tier conferences to top-tier journals, second-tier to second-tier, etc.).

Are there any published numbers on the fraction of papers accepted at different journals?

  • The numbers will be biased by the fact that a significant fraction (maybe even a majority) of computer science journal papers are invited submissions, for which acceptance is almost guaranteed. – Thomas Jan 2 at 4:05
  • Accepted without change? Or with change or after rejection and change? – Solar Mike Jan 2 at 6:00
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While I do not have the numbers, there are generally three types of submissions to CS journals.

  1. Invited papers: these are conference papers that were fast-tracked to appear in the journal, usually via some deal between the conference organizers and the journal. The idea is to give the authors of good conference papers an incentive to publish a complete set of results to the journal, and to improve the community. These papers almost always get accepted, unless something dramatic happens (e.g. an unfixable bug in a proof).
  2. Full versions of accepted conference papers: these also usually get accepted, but at a lower rate. If the original paper was sufficiently extended upon, and the journal the authors aim at is not too far away from the original conference (e.g. IJCAI/AAAI submissions -> JAIR/AIJ journals is a common route) then one could reasonably expect the paper to accepted after minor/major revisions.
  3. Direct journal submissions: these are less common, and face a much higher rejection rate. Some editors outright discourage such submissions (this is personal knowledge, not official policy). The reason is that it is often the case that these are papers that were either rejected repeatedly from conferences, or that they are submissions from someone outside the community.

Thus, it is generally not easier to get your paper accepted to a journal before a conference. Also remember that journals' turnover rate tends to be very slow, as compared to conferences.

EDIT: I was curious and asked around. Turns out that overall acceptance rates are about 30% in AI journals. This is over a very bimodal distribution though: papers of type (1) are rare, but type (2) have a high acceptance rate. Type (3) contain a lot of random spam submissions hence the low acceptance rate. Bottom line: if you have a paper you’re proud of, get it accepted to a conference. If you have some interesting extensions or not all got into the conference version, submit to a journal.

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    +1 I also get the feeling that there is a mild stigma attached to direct journal publications, since people assume it was first rejected from the relevant conferences. However, some papers (most notably, surveys) are better suited to journals than conferences and do appear directly in journals (often by invitation). – Thomas Jan 2 at 8:16
  • Restricted to (3), would you say that the acceptance rate is about similar to that of comparable conferences? – Curious student Jan 2 at 14:29
  • It’s much lower, see edit – Spark Jan 3 at 1:27
  • Interesting that the acceptance rate is so low. I guess there are a lot of AI spam papers. – Thomas Jan 4 at 21:55
  • Conferences are getting the worst of it. AAAI acceptance rate was 14%, I suspect mostly due to spam ML publications. – Spark Jan 5 at 11:14

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