I am a second year PhD student. At the end of my first year, we (with my supervisor) have prepared a paper which he advised to submit to a leading journal. I was a little bit skeptical about the matter because I’ve prepared the paper for a conference and not as an article for a journal, and especially when the idea was not mature enough to be accepted in a journal.

Personally, I was planning to submit the paper to a conference, and then improve the old results and add new results and then submit to another conference, and when we develop a solid contribution, we combine all results and then try a leading journal. I knew at the same, that then downsides of my approach are:

  • Takes time (conferences take at least 2 to 3 months to notify, and I was planing to try 2 or 3 conferences to improve the results).
  • Expensive (registration fees, travel cost, etc.).
  • And probably I might not get the feedback that will improve our paper (it happened to me in my first/previous conference).

My supervisor’s approach is different, he said that top leading journals
give really good feedback and sometimes they give the exact problem in your contribution and recommend solutions. The idea for him is submit not mainly for acceptance, but to get feedback that we could to improve and then choose a suitable journal.

As you can see, we both want the same thing but each had a different method. Of course, I’ve followed his approach, and the results were this: I’ve dealt with 7 desk rejections with no detailed remarks. 5 of these were rejected because it’s out of scope, and 2 said that the results needs to be improved. Keep in mind, that “top leading journals” take a lot of time to give the first answer, so I’ve wasted 8 months just looking for journals and preparing templates.

Lucky, I listened a little bit to my guts and started working on some new improvements and suggested to my supervisor to add these improvements and try one last time. He accepted and after more than 1 month of working, we finally submitted the new version to another journal and now I just received an email that says the paper is currently under review :).

But I am curios about whether his approach is right or mine, what are the mistakes that I did during this whole process? Keep in mind I have no publications (*), I really love research and always try my best, but those 7 months were stressful, especially when I know 2nd years with 2 or more publications already.

(*) I did 1 conference because I did some work in my Master and my supervisor (same person) said it’s good we should try a conference. But My thesis discusses (a) slightly different problem (s), so I have no publications.

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