Sam and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Paper

This poor cat expected more from me than this awful paper. It also represents my reaction to the price of a stock photo of an “F” written on a piece of paper in red ink.

Apologies to Judith Viorst.

This is the story of a paper with no good results. I took a system I hadn’t made, tested it on a dataset that was only half-finished, and ended up with data that said things, but not very impressive things, and not very convincingly. These results had no business being in a paper, but I really wanted to submit something to an upcoming workshop – Building Educational Applications using Natural Language Processing (BEA). Workshops are generally known for being easy to get into, but BEA is different. Some of the most able professors I know have had papers rejected from this workshop.

My results were so bad that I was convinced it would be an insult even to ask people to review any paper I wrote on it. I hesitated to send my paper to someone who had volunteered to read it for fear I was wasting her valuable time. I confided in my roommate, who prefers to be referred to as J, and he said that even if I don’t expect the paper to be accepted, it’s important to make submissions and that early in my career people won’t be offended to look at ones that might be less than amazing. So, still feeling selfish and awful every step of the way for making people deal with such mediocre work, I wrote the paper as well as I possibly could and submitted it.

Last Thursday I got a response from BEA. The reviews focused mostly on the same issues that I had been concerned about myself. They were generally positive, though, and I was invited to give a poster presentation. I hope that this story helps anyone else who may feel that he or she doesn’t have a really great result be more confident in making a paper submission. It’s often worth it.

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2 thoughts on “Sam and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Paper”

  1. I really feel that the best strategy regarding publication, writing contests, etc. is to use grit and submit. Good work, Sam.

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