Practical Tips to Avoid Desk Rejections

2 minute read

Our process for identifying desk rejects has been very similar to what other PCs have done in the past. First, the area chairs check their batch of assigned papers and report any issues to us. As the reviewing begins, reviewers may also identify issues that were not caught by ACs, which they flag up to ACs or directly to PCs. We then review each of these issues and make a final decision, to ensure that papers are handled consistently. This means each paper is reviewed for non-content issues by at least three people.

The major categories for desk rejects are:

  • Violations to the dual submission policy specified in the call for papers
  • Violations to the anonymity policy as specified in the call for papers
  • “Format cheating” submissions not following the clearly stated format and style guidelines either in LaTeX or Word (thanks to Emily and Leon for introducing the concept).

As of February 7th, out of 2378 submissions, there were 44 rejections for format issues, 24 for anonymity violations, and 11 for dual submissions. This means that a total of 3% of the submissions were desk-rejected.

Every recent conference has posted general guidance to help future authors avoid the pain of a desk rejection (COLING 2018 and NAACL 2018 are great examples). To avoid too much redundancy, we offer this handy checklist for authors that will help them in preparing their upcoming *ACL submissions.


  • Are there any grant numbers that will reveal your identity?
  • Have you cited any git or other online resources that might identify you?
  • Did you include a software/data license that might identify you?
  • Have you posted or updated your paper publicly during the anonymity period?
  • Is your paper currently under review in an Open Review conference such that it might be de-anonymized during the anonymity period?
  • Do you have any explicit self-citations (e.g., “… as we showed in (Us, 2018)”)?
  • Do you cite any papers as (Anonymous, 2018)? If these are your own papers, this style of citation is not allowed.
  • Do you follow the venue’s policy for citing papers in open review or other preprint servers?


  • Correct, un-hacked, LaTeX/Word template?
  • Correct font and font size?
  • Contains all the required elements, including special elements like line numbers?
  • Page size and margins are as specified, including around figures and tables?
  • The correct inter-line spacing?
  • Correct length, such that no content spills beyond page limit, including into the references section
  • Appendices are not included in the main document?
  • References are compiled and present?


  • Did you disclose the submission to other conferences? And did you verify that those venues allow dual submission?
  • Have you submitted a version to another track of the same conference?

Please let us know if we missed anything and we will update the post.

Leave a comment