Conference submission times

Many authors submit their papers to conferences at the last minute. This page has some example data (now quite old), plotted below.

The data is from Neural Information Processing Systems submissions from 2003–2008. Some authors forwarded me their submission receipts which contained a submission number and a submission time. The times are for first submissions, because resubmissions do not create a new submission number. The paper IDs did not necessarily start at 1, or the same number each year.

The conference started using a different conference management system in 2009. After this change, the times for first submissions were not readily available and I stopped maintaining this plot. When the plot was made, the conference was commonly-known as NIPS. The acronym officially changed to NeurIPS in 2018.

[Graph of submission number vs minutes left until deadline showing a sharp increase in submissions in the final hours before the deadline]

Some of the plot is clearer after a non-standard, but smooth non-linear transformation of the time axis:

[a graph with a stretched out axis showing that while some submissions are made within minutes of the deadline, and some after the deadline, although many are made hours before]

The plot with time on a genuine log-scale is also available. For that, negative submission times were simply discarded.

As suggested by Phil Cowans some time ago, there is also a version with a scaled submission number axis. I scaled the numbers by the largest number observed just before the deadline. This makes less sense now: 1) we know that the submission numbers are subject to an arbitrary offset; 2) in 2008 there were problems with the submission server preventing submissions in the last 5–10 minutes. As a result, the scaled curve doesn’t closely follow the 2007 curve, even though they looked much the same in the original data.

If anyone wants to do anything better with these data they are available: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. The columns are submission number, date in June, hour, minute, seconds. Times for 2003–2006 are in UTC-0700. From 2007 the times are in UTC as the deadline shifted to midnight UTC from midnight UTC-0700.

For some data and analysis for other conferences, see Patrick Flandrin’s publications. Item [C157] is:

P. Flandrin, An empirical model for electronic submissions to conferences, ECCS 2009, Warwick (UK).

Also [C155] is a French version.