Common Mistakes to Avoid when Submitting a Research Paper

In this short blog post, I will talk about some common mistakes that are done by researchers when submitting a paper to a journal or conference:

  • Not respecting the required format or maximum number of pages: Most journals and conferences requires that papers follow some template. It is important to follow it carefully. For some journals or conferences, a paper that does not follow the required format may be rejected right away. Besides, small formatting errors may give a bad impression to reviewers.
  • Not respecting the guidelines about the double-blind review. Some conferences will require that all papers are anonymized (do not contain author information) so as to avoid conflicts of interests with reviewers. A conference that follows this process where authors don’t know who are the reviewers and where reviewers don’t know who are the authors is said to follow a double-blind process. It is important to check whether a conference is double-blind before submitting a paper as not following this may result in a paper being rejected.
  • Not choosing the appropriate categories when submitting your paper. Several journals or conferences require to select some categories or topics when submiting a paper. It is important to choose this correctly as this helps for assigning your paper to the right reviewers. Generally, one should choose the categories that best describe their papers. Some authors submiting journal papers will sometimes choose the wrong category on purpose to try to avoid reviewers from their field or other reasons. Do not do this. The editor or organizers can easily see this and may have a bad impression.
  • Not proofreading your paper. A paper should be well-written. If a paper is submitted with a lot of English errors, it gives a very bad impression. One should not submit a draft but rather a paper that looks like a final version.
  • Not verifying that the files have been uploaded properly. Another common problem is that some authors will upload the wrong files, or files with some PDF errors. It is important to double check the files that you have uploaded to make sure they are correct.
  • Not updating your paper with recent references. Another very common problem is that some authors will submit a paper that does not contain enough recent references. For example, after finishing a PhD, a researcher may submit a journal paper based on his thesis done a few years ago but may forget to update the paper with recent papers. It is important to cite several papers from the last 5 years to show that you are aware of all the recent work.
  • Not comparing with state-of-the-art research. If you are developing a new model or technique, it is important to compare with the state-of-the-art research.
  • Submiting a paper that contain plagiarism or a too high similarity to other papers. Some young researchers will also submit papers that contain text copied from other websites or papers. This should be avoided. Besides, nowadays it is also important to avoid reusing text from your own papers in other papers, as much as possible. Several journals will for example reject papers if they are too similar to other papers from other authors or the same authors.
  • Submiting to the wrong journal or conference. Another common problem is to submit a paper to a journal or conference that is not relevant to the topic of your paper. This is often enough for a paper to be rejected. Thus, it is important to look for a suitable journal for each paper.

And there are certainly many other mistakes. Those are the ones that comes to my mind as the most common mistakes. Hope that this post has been interesting! Do you think I forgot something? Do you want to share your experience? If so, then please leave a comment in the comment section below.

Philippe Fournier-Viger is a full professor working in China and founder of the SPMF open source data mining software.

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