I have made some research about a topic in Computer Science. The issue was that I am a little bit dubious if the procedure that I followed was correct. The problem gets worse because the work is not in the field of expertise of my supervisor or of my colleagues.

For that reason, I am thinking to submit it to a conference for getting valuable feedback. Would that be reasonable to do that? Maybe somebody would argue that I will only waste valuable time from the reviewers, but I don't know what else to do in this situation.

  • I am in a very similar situation with a paper that I am leading.
    – user70612
    Apr 15 '17 at 13:27
  • 6
    How about getting in touch with people actually having expertise in that field? You most likely have to share authorship or at least mention them in the acknowledgement but that definitely make more sense than trying to get reasonable feedback from a conference review.
    – user64845
    Apr 15 '17 at 13:33
  • @DSVA I have tried that also, but the answers I got was that it was not related to their field of expertise or no answer at all
    – Layla
    Apr 15 '17 at 14:08
  • My professor submitted my paper to a conference, we both knew the chance of acceptance was very slim,but we hoped to get some feed back on it. It did not get accepted, but I did get some feed back to make my paper strong.
    – JKJ
    Apr 15 '17 at 15:05
  • You should consider posting a preprint to the arXiv and actively soliciting comments, both in the submission comment line and in the body of the paper. Depending on how much viewer traffic your arXiv section gets it may be a good place to get people's attention.
    – E.P.
    Apr 16 '17 at 19:22

Submit your research to a workshop. Workshops are the kind of venue you are looking for: their purpose is to provide feedback on work-in-progress, with a fast review cycle and reviewers focused on a specific area of expertise.

Submitting your research to a conference may lead to valuable feedback, too, but there's a risk that submitting work-in-progress research can leave behind a poor impression to some of the reviewers. In consequence, these reviewers may be inclined to give rather terse/useless feedback.

  • 2
    While correct, there are two problems with that solution: (1) if travel budget is an issue, you now have to pay for two travels (to the workshop and to the conference where you ultimately publish your work), and (2) depending on community and workshop, the workshop may be considered "prior publication" and may reduce your chances of getting the paper accepted at a strong conference.
    – xLeitix
    Apr 15 '17 at 16:20

Can I submit an article just for the sake of useful feedback?

Yes and no. Of course nothing stops you from sending an article just to get feedback, and this is indeed a suggestion that I sometimes see given to young researchers when they are unsure about their paper.

However, there are a few issues that, in my opinion, makes this approach not overly effective.

  • You will get feedback, but you may not get useful feedback. Reviews fundamentally tend to assess the current state of a research project. It should not be like that, but many reviews focus on what's wrong with a paper, and not on how it could be fixed. Think of it as an evaluation more than a feedback procedure.
  • Additionally, there is little incentive for the PC to be overly constructive. My impression has always been that the anonymity of peer review leads people to be more dismissive than what they would ever be if they talked to you personally.
  • The turnaround time of good conferences is so long that you need to expect to wait a few months for your reviews. This is wasted time if you are already pretty sure that the paper won't be accepted.
  • As you say yourself, an argument can be made that submitting a paper that you yourself are not sure is ready for publication to be an unethical abuse of the peer review system. I would consider this a fairly mild problem myself, but it is obvious that the peer review system would break down (even more?) if many people started to adopt your approach.

More promising may be to find a collaborator who is aware of community standards of wherever you want to publish to take on board for finishing and publishing this work. Such a person can not only help you writing a paper using the conventions of the field, (s)he will also be able to point you and help you with any additional work that may make your work stronger in the eyes of your targeted community. Most importantly, this person has then skin in the game and will strive to be constructive rather than just telling you that your work isn't going to cut it.

This of course leaves the question how to find such a person. I am sad to say that personal connections (of you, your supervisor, or other friends or fellow faculty) are by far the best approach, but failing that you can try to establish ties by attending workshops or working conferences, as proposed by lighthouse keeper in his answer.

  • 1
    Agreed. As a reviewer, when I read something that I think was sloppy and really shouldn't have been submitted, I feel like my time was wasted. I was once a coauthor of a paper that I was able to help with only to a limited extent. A reviewer said the ideas were good but the paper was so poorly done that the authors owed the program committee an apology. I was mortified. (We eventually improved it and it appeared later with very positive reviews.) /// Don't be that author. Apr 15 '17 at 17:00
  • "It should not be like that, but many reviews focus on what's wrong with a paper, and not on how it could be fixed." Why should it not be like that? A reviewer doesn't always know how to fix a shortcoming; even if she does, the author might know better; even if not, reviewers' suggestions will often be ignored, making it a likely waste of time... Apr 15 '17 at 19:42

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