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In general, when submitting to first tier conferences there is a smaller chance of acceptance but also a better reward.

At one extreme, one may only submit his work to third tier conferences and get nearly all of them accepted at the first shot. Alas, especially for younger researchers, the visibility of these will be very limited and the author might not get recognition for the work at all.

On the other hand, submitting only to first-tier conferences bares a higher risk, especially for PhD candidate looking for a post-doc/position, as it may take several iterations till the paper is accepted and published.

So where should one aim to be in general? Obviously, better papers belong in higher tier conferences, but there may be a goal rate in which your papers should get accepted. If the average number of submissions before accepted is 2/paper (but not all of them are first-tier venues), should one aim higher? If it takes 3-4 submissions but papers end up in first tier venues, should we attempt less competitive venues and publish quicker?


Context: I'm a CS PhD student. My supervisor usually insist on sticking to top-tier conferences even if a paper was rejected 2-3 times. I wonder if it is better to lower the bar after a rejection or two to get my results published faster. From another student here I've heard that they usually get papers accepted in the first attempt, but most of her publications are not in a top ranked conference. What is the right balance here?

closed as off-topic by Enthusiastic Engineer, scaaahu, David Richerby, Fred Douglis, Buzz Jul 2 '17 at 2:33

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  • 1
    You should aim on doing quality work. Especially for PhD student, this is the most important. If you get really good results, even if for one reason or another they can't make it to TOP vanues, the quality is going to be reflected on your thesis and on the letters of recommendation. Tjis is one of the best periods of your life to do really cool research. TOP venues will veentually come. – PsySp Jun 30 '17 at 10:49
  • @PsySp - obviously, it is better to do top-quality work. The question is where should I submit it to. – Polina D Jun 30 '17 at 10:51
  • If you, and your advisor, believe your work is TOP-tier material, then submit there. In the worst case the work will be rejected but with some hopefully helful feedback. Then, based on that you can go on some less prestigious venue. That is good thing for (T)CS: there are many conferences all year around to submit your work. – PsySp Jun 30 '17 at 10:54
  • OK, so say we submit to top tier conference and get rejected with so-so reviews. What then? Go to a lower ranked conference or wait till the next major one? – Polina D Jun 30 '17 at 10:55
  • It depends on the context: if their reaction is "meh" then obviously the chances to get on a TOP conferences are being decreased dramatically and you can go on 2nd tier. If their reaction is "ok, cool =, but more work needs to be done", then do the extra work and resubmit! – PsySp Jun 30 '17 at 10:57
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To a first approximation, promotion depends on top-tier publications and nothing else. If career concerns are important (and they always are) keep submitting to top-tier venues (as long as you believe the work is good), even if it takes several iterations to get in.

There's so much variability in what gets accepted that it's best not to take the outcome of any single set of reviews too seriously. If you start to see a consensus among reviewers as to why they recommend rejection, then of course you will need to address that. But otherwise, don't lose hope and keep submitting.

Context: I'm a social scientist.

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    I do not quite agree with "keep submitting". If your work is rejected more than 1 times, this means that there is a very good reason for that. Moreover, these venues have memory. You do not want people to say öh, not again this". – PsySp Jun 30 '17 at 14:24
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    I'd generally disagree with that. There have been re-review studies for CS conferences to see whether papers that were accepted would be accepted a second time by a different review team. I do not remember the exact rate of agreement but it was surprisingly low. – sessej Jun 30 '17 at 15:56
  • So much depends on the taste of the specific reviewers. – sessej Jun 30 '17 at 15:56
  • @sessej - if you could share a link to such study it'll be great! – Polina D Jun 30 '17 at 16:46
  • @PolinaD sure -- here's one: blog.mrtz.org/2014/12/15/the-nips-experiment.html . – sessej Jun 30 '17 at 17:15
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I'm sure that this varies a lot by specific discipline, but my perception is that top tier publications really "count," while second tier publications generally don't count for nearly as much during evaluations (i.e. job placement, tenure review). I don't really think there is an equivalence- it's not the case that reviewers will consider two or three second tier publications to be worth one top tier publication, so it's always worth submitting good work to a top conference.

I think the distinction between top, 2nd, and 3rd tier conferences is a little misleading.

I think of top tier conferences as places that publish research that is well done, comprehensive, and broadly applicable. As a result, everyone in the discipline will at least glance at these papers. They also happen to be good papers, because only well done papers can be broadly applicable. The reverse doesn't hold though: merely being a good paper is not enough to be accepted at one of these venues.

Work sent to second tier conferences tends to be much more specific with a much narrower audience. The conferences themselves tend to be very subject-oriented, so people really interested in that specific sub-discipline can disseminate, but the results and the work aren't deep enough that the work would be interesting to someone not familiar with the specific field.

Putting that all together, consider a hiring committee that has to decide between someone with 10 top tier publications and another with 20 second tier publications. The first person has demonstrated that they can produce broadly applicable and interesting work. The second person has demonstrated that they can produce a greater volume of narrow, less general work. When it comes to academics, that first person is going to win every single time.

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