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I submitted a paper to an international conference and some strange things happened along the way. First, the reviews did not meet the date in which they were supposed to be send to the authors. After like four days, I saw a message in the submission site that said that my paper was rejected. So I waited for the notification to be sent to me my email, because I wanted to know the reviews to improve my paper and maybe resend it to another conference.

I did not get any reviews by email, but after like 4 days more after the notice that my paper was rejected they appeared on the submission site. When I saw the reviews, they were very harsh, and nearly non-existent, with the following characteristics:

  • It appears that there was only one reviewer.
  • In the marked items about Originality, Readability and so on; all was marked with 0.
  • No reviews about what was wrong, just a very harsh comment that the paper was not focused and that does not seem to be a credible research.

Is it normal to get this type of reviews? I remember that even when I got rejected from other conferences, there were like three reviewers, and each of one put their qualification and make some good comments for improvement. I have just checked the paper with my colleagues and they do not find it like is an unreadable paper or that the paper is unfocused.

What could have happened in this situation?

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    The review is certainly not normal. You may want to contact the program committee chair with your concerns. – mkc Apr 28 '15 at 1:59
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    "I saw a message in the submission site that said that my paper was rejected". That is strange indeed. Is this a well-known CS conference? – Alexandros Apr 28 '15 at 3:31
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    @Alexandros, well they are sponsored by IEEE and a couple of prestigious universities. The papers were going to be included in the LNCS from Springer; now I am traumatized to submit anything to Springer if this is going to happen again – Layla Apr 28 '15 at 12:36
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    Neither IEEE nor Springer are absolute guarantees of quality, or even sanity. – jakebeal Apr 28 '15 at 12:54
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    Was 0 the lowest ranking for originality, readability, etc.? The question isn't as silly as it might sound. I've been on program committees of computer science conferences where the scale for overall quality of the paper was from -3 ("strong reject") to +3 ("strong accept"), with 0 being "neutral". – Andreas Blass Apr 4 '18 at 1:49
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Lack of meaningful review feedback is absolutely abnormal and inappropriate behavior for a good computer science conference (I am guessing computer science based on your prior posts). The late response and lack of email are within normal variance, though.

Unfortunately, what this probably means is that the conference you submitted to is actually a crap conference. Re-investigate the conference, and evaluate its quality again: just because something is international doesn't mean it is good. Even being sponsored by a major society like IEEE may not ensure quality. Look at who is involved and the level of citation of past work, etc. If the conference is a crap conference, you should feel thankful that they rejected your paper and you have an opportunity to submit to a better conference instead.

If, on the other hand, despite all expectation it is actually a good conference, then you should write to the program chairs and ask to receive a real peer review. Every author deserves meaningful feedback on your paper, no matter how bad the paper may be (and I speak as one who has even given a serious review to a submission from a clearly insane individual).

  • you are right @jakebeal, also when sometimes I have submitted a paper that was not truly related to the main conference topics I got like three different reviews, but in this case only a comment for one reviewer is too bad; or maybe they have the schema that when the first reviewer says everything is wrong then they don't pass it to the next reviewer. – Layla Apr 28 '15 at 12:34
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    @jakebeal: Good answer. "Every author deserves meaningful feedback on your paper, no matter how bad the paper may be (and I speak as one who has even given a serious review to a submission from a clearly insane individual)." That's a very generous position and I agree with it (and I never reject a paper without giving detailed feedback). But not everyone does, and sometimes our publications are treated in ways that we do not deserve (yet more often, in ways we feel we do not deserve!). In my experience go elsewhere is usually the easier, more profitable path than seek restitution. – Pete L. Clark Apr 28 '15 at 17:01
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    @PeteL.Clark I agree. And to clarify: my review won't always be detailed, but it will be very clear on the basis of judgement. To quote almost the entirety of a recent review: "This paper is largely plagiarized from its first two citations, [REDACTED]. In most cases the text is paraphrased, but the experimental results are identical and the other figures are either copied or minor variants on the pre-existing work." – jakebeal Apr 28 '15 at 17:06
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    That's sufficiently detailed in my book. (Yikes!) – Pete L. Clark Apr 28 '15 at 17:11

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