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I have recently submitted 2 papers to a top tier IEEE conference; both were rejected.

The reviews for paper B included two accepts and one reject.

However, some of the comments the reviewer who rejected gave us seem to relate to paper A. In fact, he actually named an algorithm appearing in paper A (in his review for paper B), saying its evaluation "is not convincing".

While there's definitely a possibility both options were not good enough, shouldn't they each be judged based on their own merit? Should I mail the PC chair about this?

  • You can certainly try, but at this stage, they have likely filled all the slots, so your chances are low, I think. – Davidmh Jul 21 '16 at 17:48
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    As @Davidmh says, now that accept/reject decisions have been made, reversing them is incredibly unlikely. I do think you should ask the PC chair about this, but with no expectation that your paper will be accepted even if it was rejected by mistake. – JeffE Jul 21 '16 at 17:56
  • Most likely, both got sent to the same reviewer and he got confused while writing.... almost happened to me once, when I got a bunch of papers with similar title/content to review.... – Fábio Dias Jul 22 '16 at 3:02
  • Did you get any accepts for paper A? That is, say it is the same reviewer who got confused, would that push you up to three accepts? – Pam Oct 4 '18 at 18:31
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I think you should mail the chair. It may be to no avail, but the chair will at least be informed of the practice.

Like you, I believe each paper should be judged on its own merits. Don't reject Paper B because you didn't like something in Paper A. That's truly ridiculous. But it could be a new rater who's unfamiliar with the process.

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    It could also be a copy-paste error if there are similar comments on both your papers: "While the content was interesting the justification for the use of [algorithm A] is insufficient", and substitute inside the []. The number of conference papers to be reviewed in a short time is rather high for some academics (the deadline may look good but most of the time may be tied up in teaching/exams) – Chris H Jul 22 '16 at 8:13
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I think you should definitely contact the PC chair. It is important that each paper is evaluated on its own metric. As a matter of fact, they should be considered independent entities.

Apart from above reasoning, most top tier conferences would have some sort of blinding process. Seems like in this case it was single. It might be coincidental that both papers ended up with same reviewer.

That is why double blinding is a bit better, but it is what it is for now. Also, two accepts and a reject should still have the paper accepted, shouldn't it?

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    "Also, two accepts and a reject should still have the paper accepted, shouldn't it?" - at the more competitive conferences, not necessarily. Even three accepts can result in rejection, if they are weak accepts. – ff524 Jul 22 '16 at 23:32
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    "Also, two accepts and a reject should still have the paper accepted, shouldn't it?" No. You seem to be under the mistaken belief that reviewers decide which papers are accepted. They don't. That is decided by the programme committee (or, in the case of journals, the editor). Reviewers do not make decisions and they do not vote; rather, they give advice. – David Richerby Jul 23 '16 at 10:30
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    "It is important that each paper is evaluated on its own metric. As a matter of fact, they should be considered independent entities." I don't know about that. If the same author submits two papers on similar topics, it seems reasonable to have the same reviewer look at both; for instance, they'd want to check if there is excessive overlap between them. – Nate Eldredge Jul 24 '16 at 13:45

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