As a PhD student, I face the requirement to publish at least one of my papers at one conference from a defined list of conference. In late November, I submitted a "draft version" of my work to my first and second supervisor.

In mid-December, I received feedback from the second supervisor. The feedback I received affected mostly writing style, making it appear more like a concise journal article instead of a book chapter suitable as part of a final PhD thesis, etc.

Since the holidays, I worked on my paper substantially, implementing ideas and criticism from befriended PhD candidates as well, and could send a new, final version to my supervisors Friday. My fist supervisor now explicitly told me that he read the first version of my paper, and now he wants to give me feedback, most of which he believes may have been included in the second supervisor's feedback and hence addressed in my new version.

However, he cannot give me feedback before Wednesday due to time constraints on his part, not even a phone call. Instead, he stressed that the first paper is not ready for submission.

I am now facing the problem that the submission deadline for the journal is on Tuesday. Hence, I must choose between

  • skipping the deadline and not submit anything,

which would be undesirable. Although there is nothing preventing me from choosing a later conference, the message this would send to my environment (and myself) about my work standards, communication flow and time planning would be demoralizing.

  • submit the renewed version anyway,

without my first supervisor having approved of it (the second supervisor promised to still give feedback in time). I submitted the draft, with two months left to the deadline, to identify problems with the general direction, and I knew it was not ready for submission. The fact that the differences between the draft and the current, polished version are very large now tells me that the current version may be very well suitable for publication, even in his eyes, if he read it.

Essentially, my possible errors here are:

  1. submitting a paper that, even in the second version, is bad.
  2. not submitting a paper that would have been perfectly fine.

Regarding the first error, how strong is the effect of having been rejected from one journal or conference, as to not being allowed to submit to other conferences work that was already submitted once before? The research field is the intersection between management and corporate finance.

Is there an effect on my, or my supervisor's, or my university's, reputation from submitted a (potentially still by far sub-par) paper--after all, this should be anonymous?

Furthermore, there could be a negative effect of my supervisor feeling undervalued if I meet him Wednesday for feedback on a paper (although not the same paper) that I submitted the previous night. However, my supervisor is quite pragmatic, and I am sole author of this paper, so I am convinced he would understand my reasoning--but also the possible negative effects I mentioned above.

Regarding the second error, I would lose time, the opportunity of valuable feedback, and disappoint my research group, as this conference was defined as my submission target past summer already; all this over underestimating a possibly quite nice paper.

Edit: I saw this question, and want to stress that I honestly believe that my paper is not incomplete, and could be published (but then again, I am just a PhD student in my second year).

  • 2
    Not answer, just a tip for preventing such an issue in the future. When you send draft version of papers, also set a deadline for them. The smooth way is to plan a meeting (best with both supervisors). This doesn't have to be far away, as a PhD student you should not need to wait two months for feedback. Of course do not set the meeting single handedly, just ask them when they have time and can have read it.
    – Bernhard
    Jan 10, 2016 at 12:45
  • Depending on how your supervisors work, it may be OK if you send it off if the second supervisor comments on the revised draft in time. But this is VERY much dependent on how your supervisors/your department works. - e.g. in my case, I could rely mainly on 1 supervisor out of 3 and it was his comments that were really important.
    – DetlevCM
    Jan 10, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    If you do submit the paper, you may be able to mitigate negative reaction from supervisor 1 by emphasizing your wish to hear his feedback to help your future writing, as well as the conference deadline. Jan 10, 2016 at 15:43
  • 2
    Are both of your supervisors also coauthors on the paper? If so, it is unethical to submit it without both of their permission. Jan 10, 2016 at 16:48
  • Is the extended deadline already announced?
    – Bernhard
    Jan 10, 2016 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


Ask your second supervisor to talk to your first supervisor about it -- they may be able to agree between themselves that the feedback from your second supervisor alone is enough, given the time constraints.

  • 1
    this has proven as a very successful and disarming solution. Thank you!
    – Marie. P.
    Jan 14, 2016 at 12:41

If you are confident you have addressed all comments by the second advisor, and your PhD colleage students's criticisms, and you are confident it is now OK, send it off. You should get feedback from the referees for the conference too, and integrate your first advisor's comments in that round (or at the very least point any out major changes when presenting the talk).

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