Vladimir Sedach

Have Emacs - Will Hack

December 1, 2010

Style is more important than substance in academic journals

Topic: Software engineering

I started with failure. I submitted a couple of papers to conferences and then waited on pins and needles for months, only to be rejected. It was disappointing and motivating at the same time. I realized there was something fundamentally wrong in my writing strategy. At the same time, some of my counterparts at Microsoft were publishing prolifically, and I asked myself, "What is it about their papers that gets them accepted so regularly?" I printed several of their papers looking for a pattern, and I found it. Every one of their papers used the same template and certain stylistic elements. I started using a similar formula and found my papers getting accepted almost immediately. My team submitted papers to some important venues - SIGMOD, VLDB, ICDE, and others - and had 90% of everything we submitted accepted, even in venues in which the acceptance rates were 1 in 6 or 1 in 9. Between 2001 and 2007, my team published more than 35 papers. We became incredibly efficient at it, authoring professional papers in just a few days, almost always using ideas and experimental results we had on hand from our regular line item development work.

--Sam Lightstone, Making it Big in Software