I’m an MSc student in Computer Science in the last month of my program. A few months ago, my advisors and I completed an article that I then submitted to a conference. The notifications of acceptance were supposed to come out in early December, so we were a bit perplexed when we had yet to receive them even in mid-December. We thought this may be due to logistical problems related to the pandemic, so we weren’t too irritated.

I recently sent the organizers a polite email that we had not received a decision notification, and I was shocked to receive the reply that stated that they had no record of my submission. I replied quickly with my submission number and the (automated) notification of receipt I had obtained from their submission system. It’s been two days and I have not received a reply to this email.

Upon scrolling through the webpage for this conference, I realize they had two ways to different links for submitting an article. I selected the one that apparently goes to some submission platform that they do not even monitor, and had not checked that the other link was to a different platform.

While it’s upsetting that our submission will not even be reviewed let alone accepted, I’m even more dismayed by the thought of how my advisors will take this bad news. We worked on this article for some time and underwent a rather intense crunch to get it completed before the deadline. They’re going to write me reference letters for a PhD program application this month, and I’m very worried that this submission mistake will reflect badly in those letters. My question is: should I break the bad news to them now? Should I wait until I finish my program here (in 3 weeks)?

  • 23
    Tell them ASAP, but more importantly, figure out where you submitted your work, i.e. where was this other submission system going to.. /dev/null?
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 23:52
  • 23
    It isn't exactly clear whether it was your mistake or theirs. Should they have been monitoring the other site?
    – Buffy
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 23:55
  • 21
    This sounds like an enormous error made by the conference organisers, not you!
    – N. Virgo
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:33
  • 10
    "they had two ways to different links for submitting an article. I selected the one that apparently goes to some submission platform that they do not even monitor," That's crazy. However, let's assume they had put a big disclaimer "do not use submission platform 1, use only platform 2" you did not do anything wrong, THEY still did something wrong. Tell immediately your advisor and attach the automated notification you received. There may be ways to include your contributions in the conference.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 13:50
  • 13
    What kindergarten is this? Wait two more days, and it will become actually embarassing when you tell him. Or really embarassing when he finds out by himself.
    – Karl
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


If your advisors know of the problem, they can help fix it. For example, perhaps they might suggest submitting the article to a different conference. Even if the problem is not fixable, they can still help mitigate it, e.g. by mentioning in any reference letters that you have written a marvelous piece of work that wasn't published because of some confusion with the conference submission platform.

You gain nothing by hiding the information, so do not hide it.

One more thing: it is quite possible that you might not have a problem in the first place. After all, if the organizers really had two submission links, one of which they did not check but still sent out submission numbers & receipt notifications, then it's not surprising that some papers are going to be misfiled. They could very well be kicking themselves over the error and would do their best to make up for it. Don't panic before you get a response from them.

  • 8
    It can even get acceptance! Plus 1.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 10:24

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