Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rejected From CHI and I Feel Fine

I remember seeing a non-zero amount of grumbling last year when acceptance notifications for CHI came out.  In particular, those who were rejected listed all kinds of reasons why the process was broken.  Well, I got to join the ranks of the rejected when I got my notice the other day, but contrary to the popular reaction, I'm actually not unhappy about it.

Note: That's not to say there's nothing wrong with the process.  I'm just too new to know about it. ;)

Dora looking sad
Dora looking sad by [ jon ]

You see, after we got our first reviews, I already knew we weren't going to be accepted.  I wasn't even going to bother with a rebuttal.  The reason was that I believed what the reviewers were saying at face value, and just figured I didn't know enough about the field or something.  I figured I'd have some work ahead of me to fix it up.

One of the co-authors was more of a CHI veteran than me and knew how to interpret the reviews.  Turns out that one of the problems was that we unknowingly chose an inappropriate committee and paper type, so the type of people looking at the paper were really not what we were expecting.  It kind of went downhill from there.  Luckily this co-author said we should indeed do a rebuttal, not because we believed it would change our chances of getting in, but because it would be a useful way to better understand what the reviewers were saying and see where to go from there.

So we did the rebuttal, and I indeed found it incredibly useful.  The most valuable thing I learned was that the content wasn't necessarily even the issue - as I said, the bigger issue seemed to be the lens the reviewers were using to look at it.  The resulting confidence in my own work makes me feel good about submitting an edited paper to another conference.  Better still, an alt.CHI idea we'd been toying with became more clear after the rebuttal.  So really, it was a double-win.

I know it's really easy to have anger be your first reaction to a rejection, or perhaps something else negative - but my advice is to try really hard to see the positive side of it.  If nothing else, you will hopefully have some feedback to help make your paper better, so when it eventually does get published, citations will be more likely.


Anonymous said...

It's good to hear someone's getting constructive feedback. I'm glad you haven't yet received a rejection where one of the referees says "This work should be rejected because it's obviously false." and another of the referees says "This work should be rejected because it's obviously true." like I did at one journal. That kind of contradiction makes me almost as cynical as that a single editor somehow took both of those reviews seriously. *sigh*

Gail Carmichael said...

Yeah, sounds like you've been having a hard time with papers lately! How frustrating.

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