This may be a question repeated many times, but I want to know your opinion.

I submitted a journal paper for an algorithm (Computer Science). Fearing that the review process take too long, I decided to submit a short-version conference paper, while the long version is under-review. I received the journal review comments, and re-sent the modifications to the journal. Meanwhile, the conference paper was accepted. But the camera-ready is not sent yet.

The problem is that both papers are about the same idea. There is also some copy-pasted parts in both papers. But:

1) the editor of the journal was not informed about the conference paper (I heard that I should tell the journal about any published papers - but note that the conference paper is not yet published - not even the camera ready is submitted),

2) the organization organizing the conference, is not the same that manage the journal. I have been told that there are conflicting copyrights.

The proposed solutions (that colleagues told me about):

a) submit both as is !

b) submit both (but with change in text).

c) do not submit the conference paper (but I heard this can be harmful)

d) tell the editor now (but honestly, the journal is way more important than the conference).

  • 7
    Short answer: Don't do that. Most algorithms conferences have a clause in the call for papers specifically forbidding simultaneous submission. If the journal editor / PC chair finds out, you risk having both papers summarily rejected.
    – JeffE
    Apr 21, 2013 at 10:24
  • Indeed, don't. And next time, send to a conference first—they answer quicker. And in CS they often count more. You can send to a journal later. Jun 12, 2017 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


The problem is that you have painted yourself into a corner.

You have made a very serious mistake by submitting simultaneously to a conference (with formal proceedings) and a journal. Most likely both the conference and the journal have explicit rules forbidding this, and in any case any kind of simultaneous submission is highly unethical: you are abusing the peer-review system.

No matter what you do, someone will be upset.

If you are a student, perhaps the best approach is to play stupid. Contact the conference organisers, apologise sincerely, explain that you were not aware that simultaneous submissions are not permitted, explain that you are just a student, apologise again, and withdraw the conference paper.

The conference organisers will be upset. But maybe this is much better in the long run than proceeding with the publication of both versions, in which case you will make your mistake public and anyone is able to see it (conference submission & acceptance dates are public information, and journals typically publish the submission & acceptance dates of the articles).

  • Its not simultaneous submission. In computer science it is common practice to publish conference (short version) and journal (long version). The reason is obvious, the field of computer science is changing rapidly while most of the journal review time is very long sometime take 1.5 years. The only thing author need to do is explicitly mentioning in cover letter and citing the conference paper. However, here the situation is a bit different author has submitted a Journal article and now submitting a conference article.
    – Mohaqiq
    Dec 18, 2017 at 10:20
  • I know that other way round is common practice i-e, 1st conference and then journal. But I am not sure if it is allowed to submit journal first followed by conference. In fact I have same question as well.
    – Mohaqiq
    Dec 18, 2017 at 10:23

There is no "easy answer" here nor is there a "right answer". You can

  • take the high road and say "It's unethical of me to publish similar papers in two competing publications, so I'll withdraw one", which might make you feel good, but leaves you 1 paper less. You don't get brownie points for "feeling good"

  • publish both the conference and journal paper and do your best to have some differences between them (i.e., they're not word-for-word identical or don't have passages copied wholesale).

Honestly, the most important issue here is that you're not copy-pasting content verbatim and submitting to multiple journals hoping that neither knows of the other and get it passed through both review processes.

If I were you, I would have (and have)

  • submitted a conference paper discussing the objectives, a brief sketch of the methodology, significance of results and some figures if any, and
  • submitted a journal paper with a deeper literature review, in depth explanations of methodology with proofs, if any, detailed figures that are different from the conference submission.

This is a perfectly acceptable practice and strikes a fine balance between the need to disseminate information quickly, stake your claim to being "first", and being fair to the academic process.

However, also be aware that if your field of research is narrow/small, then it is highly likely that there is an overlap of reviewers among journals. I recently reviewed a manuscript for journal A which eventually was rejected, because although 3 reviewers (including myself) gave it an "acceptable" rating, the fourth reviewer who happened to also review the authors' previous similar submission to journal B (which was accepted a few weeks prior), notified the editor. It turns out, that they tried to do something similar to what you're doing, except that journal A would've been preferable to journal B, but things didn't turn out as they had hoped (i.e. 2 publications). So be wary of this happening to you as well.

  • 2
    How isn't withdrawing one the right answer? These papers are on the same topic, with overlapping text, and simultaneously submitted. The copyright forms conflict, so signing both is not even a legal option, let alone the ethical choice. The only option besides withdrawal would be to try to edit one so substantially that there is no longer any conflict, but the changes would presumably be large enough to invalidate the review process (you can't get an acceptance and then rewrite the paper to an extent that might have changed the reviews). So I see no ethical option but withdrawing one. Apr 21, 2013 at 15:42
  • 1
    @Anon You don't know what the specifics are. I have seen several papers in my field where the conf paper and journal paper are on the same topic, but the conference paper only shows the simulation results (for instance), while the journal paper has detailed proof of why it works, along with some additional simulations with perhaps different parameters than the conf paper (with the introduction/conclusions, remaining more or less similar but not word-for-word identical). Maybe that's not common in your field, but doesn't mean it is not acceptable in others. Not everyone is a mathematician.
    – user6431
    Apr 21, 2013 at 17:56
  • 3
    I'm not objecting to the idea of publishing closely related or overlapping conference and journal papers, which is common in computer science, but at the very least one has to respect the simultaneous submission and copyright rules of both the conference and the journal, and it doesn't sound like that's the case here. Of course it's impossible to say for sure without knowing the specific conference and journal policies, as well as the details of the papers, but the chances of doing this in an acceptable way by accident (without being aware of the issues while doing it) seem slim. Apr 21, 2013 at 18:21
  • 2
    @JohnQ.Public The OP specificlaly stated that his paper was "for an algorithm". That puts him squarely within the scope of theoretical computer science, which inherits a significant fraction of its publication culture from mathematics. AnonMath is correct.
    – JeffE
    Apr 21, 2013 at 21:20

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