I have a manuscript that has been conference-rejected 3 times up to this point.

Just to clear things up, I am by no means a senior researcher but I am not a junior who cannot judge the strength of my own work either (I have published in some top conferences such as STOC, PODC, etc.). For this manuscript, I haven't submitted it to any venue that is clearly inappropriate with respect to its strength.

In particular, what usually happened was that I get a mix of accept/weak-accept/weak-reject. Even in the reviews that recommended a rejection, they said the paper was decent (my point is that I did not submit a junk paper!). In general, even though I disagree with some of the reviews, I respect the PC's decision.

Now, I don't want to keep submitting it to conferences because while the paper is publishable, it usually does not fall into the top percentage of conferences' acceptance allocation. It will keep wasting people's time (i.e., reviewing). Improving the paper is also unclear because I have matching upper and lower bounds.

I have someone suggest submission to Information Processing Letters since they sort of accept short and simple contributions. I wonder if there is any alternative since I don't really like the idea of publishing with Elsevier.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you should provide us with more information on the area of your paper. Formal languages? Crypto? Complexity theory? Algorithms? Logics? Combinatorics? Verification? Something else? $\endgroup$
    – Gamow
    Aug 31, 2020 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ The paper should lie solely in the algorithm category (perhaps, you can pin it as sublinear algorithms). $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2020 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ There are various conferences, e.g., SOSA, which explicitly emphasize simplicity, for instance, over length or technical mastery. You also have several open-access journals (but note that journals are of course peer-reviewed, so this will require "people's time (i.e., reviewing)"!) $\endgroup$
    – Clement C.
    Aug 31, 2020 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ Open access journal Theory of Computing theoryofcomputing.org has short communications and notes that may be appropriate. Also, journals tend to take less "competitive" view of research. Depending on the result, journals such as Algorithmica, SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics may be appropriate. $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2020 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ @ClementC: I think the main merit of getting accepted is that it is peer-reviewed. My main problem here is that submitting to conferences in this case usually results in sentiment along the line "yes, it's decent work but we might not have enough room in this conference for your paper (because say there are better ones)". $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2020 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


There are two natural strategies:

  • Put it on the arxiv, forget about publishing it somewhere else. I have several such writeups - people see them and cite them.

  • Go to lower venue conferences. Don't give up. I had a paper rejected 5 times before it got accepted, and it was a strong result that later appeared in a good journal. Rejection is just acceptance to the complement, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with the second point. However, for the first point, I want to say that arxiv versions do not get many citations unless they get published at some conference. I always hesitate to trust the arxiv versions since they got rejected in some conference or not peer-reviewed yet. They could also have some major flaws which the authors do not mention explicitly :( $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2020 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree with the basic premise, there are counter-examples. For example Grigori Perelman papers resolving the Poincaré conjecture appeared only on the arxiv. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2020 at 1:55
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    $\begingroup$ Assuming that conference papers are peer-reviewed for correctness is inaccurate. People look at them to spot obvious errors or suspicious claims but typical conference reviewers do not have adequate time to properly check details. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2020 at 16:21

You could try a good journal first, see what reviews you get, and then decide. Journals sometimes make decisions that program committees are unwilling to make (and vice versa). Some journals even have categories devoted to shorter works, like the "Notes" category of Theory of Computing.


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