In computer science conferences, the following publication timeline is somewhat common for conferences:

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For those who have been involved in program committees, what gets a paper rejected after conditional acceptance? Further, does this happen often? Is there a common percentage of papers this happens with?

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    Tautological answer: failing to meet the conditions? Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 15:36

2 Answers 2


I have been a part of computer science program committees that actually do reject papers that do not meet the conditions of their acceptance.

In my experience, papers are generally classed into two categories, essentially corresponding to "minor revision" and "major revision" for a journal. The papers that are basically acceptable in their current state are in the first category, and the organizers mostly just trust that the camera-ready will be acceptable as well---after all, it's in the authors' interests to improve it further.

Papers in the second category often get assigned a "shepherd" or, in rare cases, a second round of review, to ensure that they actually meet the minimum quality standards of a meeting. In my experience, this second category is much more rare than the first, and is not used by a large number of conferences. In general:

  • The big first-tier conferences are often already overflowing with strong submissions, and don't need to bother about trying to cultivate borderline papers.
  • More specialized or not-quite-as-good conferences are more likely to make provisions to help turn borderline papers into solid papers, in order to make sure they end up with enough strong papers.
  • Low-ranked conferences often aren't very choosy in any case.

Turning to understanding the state of a particular paper: look at the process you've been told is going to happen. If you're being told about something like another round of evaluation or a shepherd, then your paper is likely borderline and you probably need to work hard to improve it to keep it from being rejected. Otherwise, "conditional accept" is likely to be more a matter of wording than serious judgement questions.

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    Interesting that you say the big first-tier conferences don't need to bother. In my experience, shepherding started with the very strongest conferences, and they shepherd every paper to try and get the very best outcomes. It has spread to other conferences, which vary in competitiveness, but largely have the same desire: to get a bit extra influence in improving the papers. But none of them actually reject a paper unless the authors are truly obnoxious in refusing to make fixes. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 23:18
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    @FredDouglis Interesting: it may be different in different sub-fields.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 1:39

I don't know statistics, and perhaps in some fields it is more common, but in the conferences I'm involved with, that extra check is more to encourage authors to act in good faith than because papers will actually be rejected then. In other words, it's exceedingly rare.

I once served as technical program chair for a small conference in which a junior faculty member wanted to reject a paper he felt didn't satisfy reviewer demands. Ultimately even that paper was accepted.

I'm guessing there are examples where this has real teeth, but i haven't come across them.

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