We published a paper in a theoretical CS conference last year, and were hoping to submit it to a journal when we found out that our result was improved in a followup work.

While it's clear that there are no ethical issues with submitting the extended manuscript to a journal, its results are inferior to the recent followup paper.

  • Would we get the same consideration as if the new paper does not exist (i.e., comparing the results to what was known before our original publication)?

  • Assuming that the answer is no, is there even a point in submitting it?

To be clear, we do mean to cite the newer result; my question is about how likely our paper is to get accepted under the circumstances.

2 Answers 2


This is a perfectly normal timeline in theoretical computer science:

  1. Result A is published in a conference.
  2. Building on result A, someone else publishes followup work B in other conferences.
  3. A polished version of result A is submitted to a journal and published there. The journal paper refers to result B and also discusses how follow-up work B has already improved on the results of the paper.

Here the fact that there is already follow-up work is a good sign that will help you to convince the reviewers that this is an important result that deserves to be published in a good journal.

  • An interesting answer (and seemingly conflicting to Buffy's ;)). Thanks!
    – Jerry W
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 19:02
  • 2
    +1 I have seen this happen many times, and I have done it myself more than once.
    – JeffE
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 13:36

Unless you have something new to add, it isn't likely that the journal will want to publish your longer version. You could submit it, of course, but it is no longer especially "novel" following the "better" result.

In CS, of course, your conference proceedings article stands on its own.

Maybe it is best to continue the work and try to leapfrog the newer paper so that you have something additional to say in the follow up. Any reviewer knowing the whole story might make the same comment.

  • We improved the analysis of the conference paper (so on its own it is a novel contribution), but it still seems inferior to the new paper :(.
    – Jerry W
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 18:06
  • Your call. And that of the reviewers.
    – Buffy
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 18:08

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