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I am planning to submit my paper to an international conference. The level of the conference might be high considering my paper and for my academic background at the moment. My paper can fit in one of the poster sessions though.

However, the scientific committee includes one academics who belongs to one of the top graduate schools in my field, which I want to apply in a few years. In case of a rejection of my paper to that conference, I do have some concerns if that academic person remembers my name, my institution etc. and hold some negative bias during my graduate application (one MPhil programme)?

Should this possibility of rejection of my paper discourage me and should not I submit my paper due to this fear?

  • 3
    A program committee must reject or suggest a poster for many, many papers. Is there anything that would make your paper unusually memorable? – Patricia Shanahan Jun 26 at 19:01
  • @PatriciaShanahan I see your point. Of course not, it does not include such memorable details leading to a rejection.. – usergrad Jun 26 at 19:10
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The chance that a rejection would have this impact on your graduate school application is extremely low.

First, check how many members the program committee has, and realize that only 1 - 3 of them will look at your paper at all during review. Second, even if the paper is rejected, there is a chance that the person handling the paper will have forgotten about the details after a year or more. Third, even if they remember, they may not hold it against you, especially if the conference is very competitive, but rather look at the positive things you show in your application.

On the other hand, think about how acceptance of your paper would later on increase your chances of getting admitted to this graduate school! This would be something that you put in your application anyway, so there's no problem with it being forgotten, and it will make a positive impression even if that particular committee member was not the one to handle your paper. It is definitely a "risk" worth taking!

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Don't worry about it. A rejection of a paper and/or poster to a conference will not change your chance to get into grad school, regardless of who is on the committee. Well, unless it was just howlingly, embarassingly, horrifyingly bad or unethical in some manner (mass plagiarism of a published work can qualify). As an example, I was told a story of a time when a professor looked at a submission that was almost a full-scale copy-paste of that professor's own work. That is not the sort of thing a person is liable to ever forget, because it is just so brazenly ridiculous that you can safely assume that person would not ever agree to take on such a student.

Any serious high-level academic has had so many things rejected that it can beggar belief. A professor of note is almost certain to have had more of their work rejected than you would manage to submit during a whole bachelor-to-PhD process. The only career I've encountered where you have to deal with rejection more than being an academic is sales.

So really, don't worry about the prospect of rejection, it is the norm for everyone. Focus on whether or not your work is well written, sensible, and clear. Then send it out into the world and see what happens. If it is accepted, great; if it is rejected, great, at least you gave it a shot and hopefully learned from the process, and you certainly learn a little bit about what it is like to work in research, because it is not the last bit of work you'll get shot down.

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You plan to apply to this grad school "in a few years", so let me tell you how I'd react if I were evaluating a grad school application from someone who had, a few years earlier, submitted a not-so-good paper to a conference while I was on the program committee. If I had seen the paper at the time (not very probable), and if I agreed with the committee's overall decision to reject it (probable but not certain), and if I remembered this person's name (improbable) and my opinion of that paper (50-50 chance), I'd probably think "Well, (s)he submitted a not-so-good paper a few years ago; let's see what (s)he's done since then. In particular, now that (s)he's reached the stage of applying to grad school, how does (s)he compare with other applicants?" In other words, I know that students often improve as a result of education, and that it would be stupid of me to ignore the possibility that the few years of education after your not-so-good paper might have improved you.

  • I agree. People who submit not-quite-good-enough papers can quickly become excellent graduate students. Certainly better than people who cannot write papers at all. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 28 at 9:31

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