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I worked in academia a few years, but more on the D-side of R&D. The race for papers never appealed to me and I'm a practical not theoretical type, but I do like reading papers on certain topics (e.g. Google Papers, NLP, FB papers, ...) a lot.

How common is it that normally working developers submit papers to conferences or even journals? It seems to be somewhat common in certain companies (it's not common or encouraged in mine). Do journals or conferences even take papers by an academic nobody (BSc) under consideration? I ask, because I have a few rough ideas and I would just like to bring them into form, one way or the other.

Bonus question: Is there a list of CS (in the widest sense) conferences/journals with short descriptions?

PS (Four out of five researchers I met published quite some fluffy stuff for my taste. I am no expert, but those people told me sometimes themselves, that the implementation does not matter, just the idea and the presentation.

I always wondered about that. I probably could write about ideas all day long (not instantly but with a bit of preparation), but the implementation and the practical part is the really hard part, that academia just does not like to be concerned with. Also many papers actually scream: I was written so the publication list of my author gets longer - which is a waste of time for everyone, and often a waste of tax money, too.

When I think of CS-ish papers, I think of running implementations or actual data, like e.g. Google's Map Reduce, Serving Large-scale Batch Computed Data with Project Voldemort or the like.)

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Indeed the quality of papers differs tremenduously and you have recognized well enough that often the system requires of researchers to publish or perish, hence, the fluffy stuff.

There are, however, also papers with solid implementations behind them, but they are rare, as they do not fit the publish or perish style. After all, implementations take a lot more time to implement, than to describe.

If you want to publish papers on your own, I suggest you try to find the reason why you want to do that:

  • get a grip on the idea and bring it into form: you can do that without the need to publish as a paper - what about a blog?
  • get a publication (for your CV or whatever reasons) - you may want to consider a journal instead of a conference. For one, they want more solid material and do not accept the fluffy stuff (usually), also they have a higher reputation.
  • meet other researchers: go for the conference paper then. In fact, even the fluffy stuff papers do have the advantage that you get to join the other researchers on the conference, which in itself is way more valuable than extending your publication list by one entry. On the other hand, you have to pay for your attendance yourself (i.e. travel fees and signup fees).

Finally, there are dedicated conferences (f.ex. JavaOne) which focus on practitioners from industry. The material in these conferences tends to be more fluffy even, because often the papers are written by people with fulltime jobs, but in their spare time. Companies in my experience either actively promote your participation in such conferences (f.ex. you can label it as training due to the very interesting talks you will have with other participants), or at least tolerate it (i.e. you roll on your own, but at least they don't oppose the required vacation days). Of course, this varies from company to company.

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