[Computational Complexity] Resubmitting Rejected FOCS paper to STOC
- (Guest post by Kamal JainResubmitting the rejected papers from FOCS to STOC?
If your paper was rejected by FOCS and you're submitting it to STOC, here are my thoughts on how you can increase your chances of acceptance. Given the low acceptance rate for FOCS, I am sure many of us will be resubmitting our rejected papers to STOC. Many of us will be incorporating the FOCS PC comments. And there's also a realistic chance that FOCS PC misunderstood our papers. So what should we do so that STOC committee does not repeat the misunderstanding?
Let me first describe the general methods to contain the chances of misunderstanding. I will then describe why the chance of misunderstanding has increased for STOC PC on resubmitted papers by giving you an insider view of FOCS 2007 PC. We can then discuss what we could do to minimize that.
Contain the chances of misunderstanding
Well of course removing the items from the paper which gave rise to misunderstanding could be beneficial. These items could arise either due to lack of explanation, positioning of clarification, or overselling the results. Lack of explanation happens because we fail to realize as authors that our mind is pre-conditioned while researching on the paper and the reviewer's mind won't be pre-conditioned in the same way. Therefore things which look clear to us may be confusing to a reviewer. Positioning of clarification is very important because not every paper is read word to word. So it is very important to put the clarification or a pointer to it as close as possible to the place where confusion could potentially arise. Overselling does not improve the chances of a paper getting accepted. Overselling of results typically puts the reviewer in a defensive position. A reviewer could look at other existing papers that have introduced similar techniques and be at a loss for what is new, unique, and real about what this paper promises.
So how do you address these problems? One thing is to prepare the paper early and seek feedback. Do not expect somebody, who is not genuinely interested in your work, to provide you good quality feedback for free. You would need to pay. How? Offer the same high quality service on their papers as you expect on your own papers. Posting your papers online, e.g., as a technical report in some archive could also bring some early readership, which may provide you feedback and opportunities to exchange feedback.
If you really need to sell your paper, what's the best way? Give talks -- as many as possible. Try to accept every invitation and try to get yourself invited by marketing the results. In order to market the paper be open to discussing your results in small chats without pen and paper, e.g., over a lunch table. Acknowledge all pre-publication discussions, including those which were not explicitly used in the paper. Mentioning the names of the people is very important, and in case of explicit usefulness, mentioning it explicitly is equally important too. This is so that your colleagues feel acknowledged and positively reinforced to collaborate with you in the future. In the short term, these colleagues are also likely to see the papers more positively vs the case if they find their assistance is not fully acknowledged.
What else can you do if you do not yet have enough opportunities to talk about your paper? We have not done so, but there are cheap as well as free software using which we can easily make a high quality screencast. For me personally, a high quality screencast provides 80% of the benefit of watching the talk in person. Much of the benefit of the remaining 20% can also be obtained if there is an open forum associated with the screencast to ask questions which can either be answered by the authors or other viewers in a relatively short time. Readers do not have the patience unless they are genuinely interested in your result. And expect to count the number of the latter on your fingers.:)
An insider's view of FOCS:
What's specific about paper reviewing these days? As part of the FOCS committee we had access to reviews submitted by the previous STOC committee. We paid a great deal of attention to whether the version we had had responded to the STOC PC's reasons of rejecting the papers. Similarly expect STOC 2008 PC to have FOCS 2007 PC's reviews available. The intersection between STOC 2008 PC and FOCS 2007 PC is non-empty. Even if you think FOCS PC misunderstood your paper, and responding to those misunderstandings would make the paper less readable, you should still try to respond to those misunderstandings instead of ignoring them. In such cases you can respond to those misunderstandings either in appropriate footnotes or in a one page appendix in the end. If your footnotes and appendix are just for STOC PC, do mention "for the reviewers only, will be removed from the published version."
What about the feedback that FOCS PC kept confidential and did not transmit to the authors? This part of the feedback must not be used by STOC committee for three reasons. First, it was understood that only FOCS PC share that feedback. Second, this part of the feedback was a part of the process and not the net outcome. The net outcome ideally must be included in the "send to author" part of the feedback. Third, since this part of the feedback was not transmitted to the authors, they can't be expected to respond. If this part of the feedback did contain a reason why the paper should be rejected then authors must be sent the reason. If this was not done in some cases, then STOC PC must work hard to rediscover the same reason for rejection.
This is my view from both having submitted (and received rejections) papers as well as been part of various PCs. I hope these give you additional practical tical tips on how to best position your papers. I welcome other ideas so that we could continue to improve the quality of our submissions.
Note: FOCS means FOCS 2007. STOC means STOC 2008. Previous STOC means STOC = 2007.
Posted By GASARCH to Computational Complexity at 11/07/2007 03:49:00 PM