I am a 4th year Ph.D. student majoring in computer science. My advisors don't do anything for me unless saying that my ideas are really simple. I've got so many rejections for my papers, on the other hand, I see people who write more than 20 papers in a year. Can someone guide me on how is it possible? I cannot change my advisors and I should do it on my own.

  • 18
    'I got some rejects from conferences. I see that some comments are about why you didn't compare yourself to X,Y,...,' Is there something stopping you from adding a comparison to "X,Y,..." to your paper then submitting it to another conference/journal? Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 21:47
  • 7
    On getting 'ideas', I find that students do tend to have 'simple' ideas. This is because they lack experience and an in-depth knowledge of their research areas. Consequently, what they can 'reach' based on their current knowledge tends to be trivial. This is why an experienced supervisor is critical. They can identify gaps, new areas or pose novel research questions, which students then work toward. Without such guidance, students are driving blind. Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:18
  • 1
    @Prof.SantaClaus If I want to learn more, where should I start?
    – user137927
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:29
  • 8
    @user137927 unfortunately, you will have to find a good supervisor/teacher. There is simply too much info on the Internet, and you need someone that can tell you what is important. Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:31
  • 3
    @user137927 I think you should take our comments with a grain of salt. We are providing info based on very little information or context; I treat reviewers comments the same. Also, understand that research is punishing, with many failures. Even great ideas are rejected many times. See philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2019/05/… Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:38

5 Answers 5


A few remarks:

  1. Those who write 20 papers a year typically write with co-authors. At this level of productivity, the authors often take over a part of the research and writing for the paper. More senior authors often do not conduct the experiments, but rather have a share in designing the overall idea developed in the paper and a part of the writing process. If you are really on your own and cannot join a team (e.g., take over a role in some other project work in your research group), then you can't expect this level of productivity from yourself. And ultimately, it's also not needed.
  2. If your advisors dismiss your ideas as too simple, there are four possibilities:
  • the idea is actually quite simple, and others have tried it out and published about it
  • the idea is so simple that it's non-publishable
  • the idea is simple, it has been tried out, and the results were bad
  • your advisors are wrong

I've seen cases where the second case held, but later another researcher tried it as well and successfully wrote a paper about it.

  1. About paper rejections at conferences: In my experience, the quality of reviews varies greatly between the conferences and the reviewers. Sometimes, reviewers take a lot of time to write precise reviews for why exactly they recommend a paper for rejection. These are very helpful reviews and should be taken very seriously. But then there are others in which for clear rejections the reviewer does not take the time to write up why exactly the paper should be rejected. Quite often, when the answer should be "the paper is overall not written well enough" or "I don't believe that the result is significant", the reviewer singles out something that is easily defensible objectively, such as a missing comparison against something else, missing references, or the like, and bases their rejecting recommendation on that. The problem with these reviews is that while the reviewer is normally correct (but sometimes isn't), it doesn't help the author to address the core problem. Normally, your advisor should spot such reviews and tell you what to focus on, but if you get little help, that's not good.
  2. If you see other published papers that are similar to your own ones, read them and then think about why they were accepted. What is the core contribution that the paper made? What is so cool about it that the paper was accepted, despite its inefficiencies? It may simply be that for the papers you are submitting, no program committee member has a good reason for why they should make a case for you that exactly your paper should be accepted. And then it is rejected even though it's not actually bad on any scale.
  3. Solicit feedback from peers (fellow PhD students) if your advisors won't give it. Don't ask peers about feedback on grammar, spelling, and the like on your papers. Ask if they would be writing an "accept" review for the paper or not. Any why they would do that. Get feedback on the paper story and if the argument and structure is convincing.
  • Thanks a lot for your great answer. If I think in the worst case, my ideas are quite simple what should I do? There are lots of papers published in the journals and conferences, how do they come up with great ideas which beat all the previous works and also are not simple? What is wrong with me?
    – user137927
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:23
  • 2
    @user137927 'great ideas' -> have deep knowledge of the area or broad knowledge (experience) -- both of which allow you to see farther than other people. Bring new perspectives/concepts to an area. Some authors work in a good environment where they are always ideas floating around; i.e., cross-pollination of ideas in different areas is high. Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:36
  • @Prof.SantaClaus I've heard it so many times that one person wrote a paper in only one month. With this rate of publication, how can I even get deep knowledge about something? Everything I want to work on has been done already by others...
    – user137927
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:45
  • 1
    Try joining Academia.edu, create your own website and post segments of your work which contain a unity of thought. Without going into any detail on why, in your absract ask for honest feedback on the idea, writing, paper content etc. That way you will receive feedback plus begin to gain an audience of like minded researchers. Regards, Charles M. Saunders Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 4:06
  • 1
    @user137927 Keep in mind that there's a ridiculous amount of low-hanging fruit in CS; most obvious ideas you think of will already have been done, but a lot of them won't've.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 17:03

Even while I'm writing this, I feel so embarrassed. I cannot publish a paper.

Try not to blame yourself for this. Based on your post, I suspect it's not your fault, but a product of your situation with your advisor. Most PhD students are only able to publish because of good support from their advisors.

My advisors don't do anything for me. I am totally alone.

This situation is a serious problem. PhD students typically need good advising; it's necessary for survival, like the water, food, or oxygen of getting a PhD. If you feel alone, you need to be able to go to someone for help; and if you get stuck, you need good guidance on directions to take.

Are there other PhD students in the program who you can find support in? Are there other professors who you know who might be sympathetic and help you with your research and paper writing?

You also need to be willing to ask for help, and not to feel embarrassed and ashamed. If you aren't willing to ask for help, then no matter what mentors are available to you, you won't be able to succeed. Needing help doesn't indicate a problem with you. It's completely normal.

When I come up with an idea, one of my advisors tells me that "it's an easy idea that comes up to every mind, so I'm sure that it's duplicated".

DCTLib has suggested some possible reasons for this. It's possible the idea truly is too simple, but it's also possible it could lead you to a good direction. However, you could reflect on your advisors' behavior here. A good advisor will not just tell you that it's easy, but suggest a better related direction. For example:

"That idea X is interesting, but it's a bit simple. What might be better is to combine idea X with Y. If we want to pursue this direction we might first try to read some papers on Y. If you're interested in that, I recommend also looking at Z."

Are your advisors' answers like this? Or are they just shutting down your ideas without help? If the latter, have you tried asking them, straight to the point, what is wrong with the idea and if they can help refine it into something better? Be confident on this; you need to know what's wrong with the idea, and they have the ability to explain it. If they are not willing to be helpful even after being asked, then the problem becomes worse. You would need to look to other mentors for support.

When I wrote a paper and tried to publish it

Did your advisors help with writing the paper at all? If not this is another major red flag for your relationship with your advisors.

I see people who write more than 20 papers in a year.

No one writes more than 20 papers in a year. Some people publish that much, but if so they likely personally wrote none of those papers. The "hard labor" of writing the bulk of the paper is usually done by PhD students.

Can someone guide me on what I should do?

To summarize:

  • Start asking for help. No one can make it on their own; you need guidance and mentorship, just like everyone else. The hardest part is that you also need to believe that it's not a problem with you or you will be too afraid to ask for help.

  • Try to utilize your advisors more effectively. Find what feedback they are able to give and utilize it. Ask them direct questions. Ask what is wrong with your paper, how to address reviewer feedback, what related work to read, etc.

  • Find other mentors, including other PhD students or other professors in your program if at all possible.

  • Consider therapy to try to build self-confidence. It helps in many cases try to deal with the underlying psychological painfulness so that you can focus more on asking for and getting help.

This isn't an easy situation, I'm sorry you have to deal with it. Good luck!


Can someone guide me on how is it possible?

There are several ways that some people use to publish more papers per year:

  1. Some split their project in several ideas that can be published as separate papers to make as many papers as possible. For example, in CS, they may publish an algorithm in a conference paper, and then an optimized version of that algorithm in a follow up conference paper. Another example: some may publish a paper about an algorithm, another paper about the whole system, and another paper about the application of the system to a given domain.
  2. Some choose to work on small projects that requires a small amount of work to make and that are likely to succeed rather than work on long and risky projects. Sometimes, the idea are simple and they just combine two ideas together to make a new paper.
  3. Some publish in easy journals and conferences where papers are easy accepted
  4. Some participate in projects from other students/researchers. If someone has 20 papers, they are likely participating in many papers from collaborators/friends.

To make this clear, I don't say that you should do all of the above. I just say what some people are doing to increase their paper count.

Also, experience plays an important role. Researchers who have experience writing papers can write/conduct research more quickly. The first paper that you write takes quite a lot of time, the second one is faster, and so on.

Also having several papers is nice. But remember that quality is also important for a student/researcher. Sometimes, having a paper in a very top conference or journal might be viewed as better than having 10 papers in some weak conferences and journals. The reason is that writing many low-quality papers is easy.. but having papers in top journals/conferences is not easy and will show your research ability. Thus, although you want to increase your number of papers, I would recommend you to still make sure that you write some quality papers. I would say that aiming at a balance between the number of papers and the quality is important.


Be patient. I wonder why you want to publish a paper when you have a job to do already, which is the job of finishing your doctorate?

  • 12
    In CS, it is the norm that the central contributions of the later PhD thesis are already published in journals or conferences. There are some PhD regulations at some universities that even require this.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:05
  • Yes, @DCTLib is right...
    – user137927
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:21
  • 1
    The important thing is that there is nothing “wrong with you”. Research is not easy; it is not done by a routine process; there is no standard technique; success is not guaranteed. Enjoy the task, do your best, be prepared for disappointments, rejoice if you do something well, and keep trying until you find a role in life that suits you. Research is merely a human activity like many others.
    – Anton
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:43

Research a particular specific open problem until you are an expert on it and know its state of the art. Then think of a promising solution to it. Write it down. That is a non-simple paper, journal article material.

  • Thanks for your answer. I have a problem and I've read lots of paper in it. My problem is that anything that comes up to my mind has flaws and every reviewer can say that, or it is so simple. Promising solution is a very general term.
    – user137927
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 5:23
  • @user137927 I understand. Keep thinking. Think of a flawless solution, even by a process of elimination of every other possible solution if necessary. My first publication went thru 167 versions before it was ready. Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 19:18
  • Wow, that's interesting. I think it's also interesting that you had someone to help you revise your paper. One of my colleagues was telling me that she published a paper in an A+ conference and started to work on it 3 weeks before the conference. But so many revision needs a lot of time, I think the speed of publishing papers is so much faster than so many revision on one paper :(
    – user137927
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 5:59
  • 2
    @user137927 Yes, it was more than a year. Don't know about conferences, I'm talking about journals. You can submit at any time. Most revisions were done by myself, although of course I had my principal supervisor, cosupervisor, and two external reviewers to help me, and then four peers that reviewed it for journals. Oh, and it was my second article now that I think of it, not my first. Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 8:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .