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So, I just finished my master's in Computer Science, and I plan to apply to some PhD programs later this year.

The review process works in 2 phases: during 1st phase the paper goes to a group of reviewers, and if all reviews are sufficiently negative, the paper is rejected. Otherwise, it advances into the 2nd phase, where it is reviewed by another group. According to the conference, approx 55 % of papers pass through 1st phase, and 25 % pass through 2nd phase. This is a strong conference, and there were initially approx. 7k submitted papers.

I'd like to know if merely getting my paper to advance in this type of review process would help in some way if mentioned in a PhD application, even if the paper gets rejected after 2nd phase. For context, my field of research is Artificial Intelligence.

Edit: I'm going to apply to PhD programs in the US, and perhaps Canada, if that matters.

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  • Which country or countries are you dealing with? There are some differences in how they approach things.
    – Ben Barden
    Oct 15 at 21:06
  • USA and maybe Canada.
    – jonesy
    Oct 15 at 21:06
  • Not until the fat lady sings.
    – VitaminE
    Oct 15 at 21:11
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    If you are asked for a list of publications, than the status of this one still is "in review (2nd phase), Proceedings of Reputable Conference". This is more advanced than "submitted to xyz", but not as much as "accepted by xyz".
    – Buttonwood
    Oct 15 at 21:21
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    I second Buttonwood's advice. Do include your list of "publications" in your resume, even if you have only one and it's not published yet. When applying to a PhD, you will be in competition with other Master students, some of whom have never written a research paper at all.
    – Stef
    Oct 16 at 10:39
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Well, it just so happens that today, I received a message from AAAI, one of the top conferences in my field, informing me that my paper had survived to the 2nd phase of their reviewing process. You may be in a similar situation as I am, so maybe you can benefit from my assessment of his situation.

The message stipulated that papers had been reviewed by at least two reviewers. Papers moved to the next phase if at least one reviewer awarded it at least a "weak accept" judgment. Also, if reviewers didn't put in a review such that at most one review was in for my paper at the relevant moment, my paper would survive into the next round too.

So either at least one reviewer didn't think that my paper was total nonsense, or enough reviewers for my paper were lazy enough to not do their job. I don't think that this is enough encouragement to put this information on a resume.

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  • Thanks, the answer was helpful indeed. I just thought that since about 45 % of the papers get rejected in the 1st phase, this could provide evidence that my paper was better than almost half of them, which in turn would demonstrate some research experience for someone just starting in research (this is my 1st ever submitted paper). Perhaps it would be more helpful if the feedbacks later end up showing that it went into phase 2 not by pure chance of having missing reviewers, but by being classified as marginally acceptable by one or both the reviewers?
    – jonesy
    Oct 16 at 0:22
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    (+1) Good answer and I like pushing folks over the rep boundaries! ;-)
    – Ed V
    Oct 16 at 1:07
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Probably not.

My outsider impression, which perhaps would differ if I knew something more specific about this conference, is that the first phase is a step to just weed out the "complete junk". "I made it to the second phase of review!" seems roughly equivalent to saying "my work isn't absolute trash!" Perhaps the phrase damning with faint praise applies, especially if the paper is in fact rejected in the second step.

I'd still note on your CV that it's submitted to a conference, but I wouldn't stress or emphasize it. Showing work is in a submitted stage is just a way of communicating that there's a project you've taken to (near) completion.

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