The story of how my thesis was rejected by the Commodity and Energy Markets Association-2021

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The beginning
The fight
The rejection

The story of how my thesis was rejected by the Commodity and Energy Markets Association-2021

Last year, I talked to my scientific mentor professor Karpenko and discussed my professional isolation: I have no one to discuss my job, my professional ideas, impressions, plans. He suggested that I participate in a few scientific conferences where I can meet other people from my professional community and maintain connections. I researched and found two conferences. It seems like these are the largest two:

  1. Commodity and Energy Markets Association (CEMA) annual meetings
  2. Yearly International Conference on European Energy Market (EEM)

The first was suggested to me by Dr. Rüdiger Kiesel, the former scientific mentor of my former Thomson Reuters colleague Markus. The 2021 annual meeting was scheduled for June 2021. The second conference isn’t being conducted this year, probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I decided to participate in the first.

The beginning

On the 22nd of February 2021, I submitted my six pages thesis “The Short-term Electricity Consumption Forecast Competition Under COVID-19 Lockdown Conditions” to the Commodity and Energy Markets Association-2021 conference. On the official website, it was announced that there would be information about acceptance/rejection on the 15th of April 2021.

On the 19th of April, I got the message:

Dear Irina Chuchueva,

Following a careful double reviewing process, we are sorry to inform you that your paper “The Short-term Electricity Consumption Forecast Competition Under COVID-19 Lockdown Conditions” has not been accepted for presentation at CEMA Annual meeting 2021 (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid). This year's competition has been challenging, and acceptance has been tightly linked to the paper's level of novelty, financial significance, scope compliance, and research extent. Also, published documents could not be accepted.

We still hope you consider participating in the online event (www.cema2020.org) and submit your papers to conferences in the forthcoming years.

Sincerely,
Juan Ignacio Peña and Andrea Roncoroni
Monday, April 19th, 2021

I was upset. Very upset. Before submitting, my thesis went through three rounds of revising and editing with different persons and I got very promising feedback. The rejection was a blow.

I can’t be pushed that easily, so the next morning I wrote to Dr. Rüdiger Kiesel:

Dear Dr. Kiesel!

I submitted my paper in February to CEMA-2021. Yesterday, I received a rejection message (below) that actually says nothing about why my paper was rejected. The message leaves a disturbing feeling that something might be… unfair (not related to the paper content). In this respect, I would like to ask you two questions and hope you'll find a few minutes to help me.

  1. Does it make any sense to ask the conference organizers for details about why the paper was rejected? If it does, what is the most efficient way to do that?
  2. Can you, please, recommend to me where else I can apply my paper? I still strongly believe that my paper (and the project underneath it) deserves to be published.

He replied in a few minutes:

Dear Irina,

I am sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, I am no longer involved in the selection process and so cannot comment on the decision process. Maybe you should contact one of the local organizers? As for your paper, there are many journals you can submit to (say Journal of Commodity Markets, J Energy Markets, Energy).

The fight

Having heard Dr. Kiesel’s opinion, I decided to ask the organizers why the paper was rejected. That was when the interesting part began. I sent emails to both singed doctors:

Dear Dr Peña and Dr Roncoroni!

I'm hurt to hear bad news from the CEMA conference. Unfortunately, your rejection message doesn't give me a hint of what was not novel, practical, etc. In other words, good enough for the conference acceptance. As a result, I don't know what to improve for the next attempt. Can you, please, briefly provide me feedback that will allow me to understand the exact weak sides of my paper.

After I got the response, the fight began:

Dear Ms. Chuchueva,

Thanks for your email. The document you submitted reports "@ … IEEE". Our policy states that "published documents could not be accepted."

Sincerely,
Andrea Roncoroni

At first, sitting in a cafe, I didn’t understand what he was talking about. What @? What IEEE? I didn’t put any copyrights in my paper… Soon, the message became more meaningful. On the official CEMA website, I found neither templates nor requirements, and… what I did? I got both from the second conference, i.e. International Conference on European Energy Market (EEM) 2020. And indeed, the template contains not the copyright but a placeholder for further copyright XXX-X-XXXX-XXXX-X/XX/$XX.00 ©20XX IEEE. And people from CEMA opened my paper and closed it the very same second because of this placeholder. I persisted:

Dear Dr. Roncoroni!

Can you, please, comment on what it means that my document is reported “@…IEEE”? I used the template recommended by IEEE because didn’t find any recommendations on cema2020.org. Of course, I can remove this note from the paper. I didn’t know that before. It will take two minutes from my side. Can I update the paper right now?

Dr. Roncoroni is not the easiest person to deal with:

A tag "@…IEEE” universally means that this document is subject to copyright by https://www.ieee.org Hence, rejection. Next time, I may suggest you submit a working paper in due form.

But neither am I:

Where on the website I can find the template for the paper? The only reason for rejection is the wrong template? The copyright belongs to me. I’m able to update the paper and have all rights to it. Also, I would like to add that the conference was recommended to me by Dr. Rüdiger Kiesel. I prepared this paper specially for CEMA 2020 and haven’t applied elsewhere.

He was giving up slightly:

Actually, it's not a mere question of template. If you send a paper with an indication of a copyright by IEEE, then whoever reads it assumes this is an IEEE publication. It's illegal to indicate a copyright whenever it is not the case. Do you see the point? Send us the paper using a standard latex article template or similar, in PDF, and we'll see what we can do.

He was wrong. It was a simple matter of publishing templates and requirements officially. I didn’t push this matter any further. Instead, I went home, removed the IEEE placeholder, and resubmitted the paper:

Dr. Roncoroni! Thank you for the explanation! I admit that it was irresponsible on my side. Sorry for the inconvenience. Here is my paper in PDF (the original is in Docx) without any copyright.

This mail fight happened in a few minutes. I was shocked, stressed, and I made a few calls to professor Karpenko. He suggested the sentence where I claimed that I hadn’t submitted the paper elsewhere because it might look like I had prepared the one paper and submit it to a hundred places. This a disapproving tactic in the scientific community. I haven’t. From the very start, my focus was only on CEMA-2021. Anyway, by the end of the 20th of April, at least I pushed them to read my paper.

The rejection

On the 27th of April 2021, I got my rejection:

Dear Ms. Chuchueva,

We have received the report indicated below. Regretfully, your paper cannot be accepted for presentation at CEMA 2021.

Sincerely,
Andrea Roncoroni and Juan Ignacio Peña

This paper puts forward a number of interesting issues of practical use when forecasting day-ahead electricity consumption. The analysis is based on models implemented in proprietary software. The paper does not provide a self-contained description of any of the cited models. In particular, none of the results can be reproduced by the reader. In conclusion, although the paper might have some merits, it looks more like a technical report for the industry than an academic production. As such, we think it is not suitable for presentation at an academic conference.

I was not upset any longer. A week passed between the fight and the second rejection and I digested the news. The same day, I paid 70 euros for participation and began waiting for the program to publicize. Did they treat me prejudicially? Is most of the research reproducible? Do researchers publish datasets and codes? I can answer these questions only by participating. And if I find that I was treated prejudicially, I’ll make it public.

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