Talk:Catch All

From Health of Conferences Committee

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Starting Comments

Below we encourage discussion on interesting ideas that were not singled out above.


Paper submission software
SIGPLAN provides "supported" conference management software for our major conferences (although the PC chair is free to use other software if they desire). As someone who has seen some of the homegrown systems fail in various ways (e.g., the conference submission software lost submitted papers, the software was not configured properly to block PC submitters of papers the reviews of their paper resulting in the use of an "honor" system was used, etc.), I think such software is critical to the smooth running of a conference.
Improved latex template for conference papers.
To provide a more uniform look to our conference proceedings and to relieve authors the burden of struggling with a poorly designed paper template, SIGPLAN commissioned the design of a new Latex template. The template has been very well received by the SIGPLAN community. I believe that it has been used by conferences not directly affiliated with SIGPLAN.


We have shepherding for papers that make a valuable technical contribution but cannot be accepted as is. With shepherding a program committee member works with the authors to fix a problem (or problems) with the paper. Usually these problems are more an issue of presentation or writing, since there is not enough time to get new results (and the significance of new results cannot be known in advance). If the authors do not make the changes requested by the reviewers, then the shepherd can recommend rejection of the paper before the final camera-ready copy date. In order to be effective, the threat of rejection has to be real (I ultimately rejected a paper with uncooperative authors once.) Usually, about 10% of the accepted papers are conditionally accepted with shepherding. :Although some people do not like shepherding, I am a strong believer in it. Given that the ISCA proceedings is more selective than many journals, I think it makes sense to have the more active editorship that shepherding can provide. It is also a way of accepting newer and bigger ideas when the language or presentation may have otherwise not initially been up to the standards of the conference.


As a community, we have been concerned about the lack of uniformity between reviewers. Thus, on more than occasion, papers that should be rejected according to one reviewer were judged to be eligible for the best paper award by others. We have therefore toyed with the idea of a potential reviewer workshop in which experienced reviewers would discuss the reviewing process. Unfortunately, we have not yet implemented this idea.


It seems that this is survey is focused on the paper submission/review process. While this formal sharing of content is extremely important we have found that informal ways of sharing/exchanging content by way of discussions, "birds of a feather sessions", etc. contribute to networking among attendees and sharing of ideas. The SIGUCCS discussion listserv list is one way we continually stay up-to-date and have created an online community with one another - not just the conferences.


"Table topics" sessions (a session room with a few tables wherein authors seated at a table present to interested attendees who join them by sitting at the table) allow more papers to be presented at a conference. This approach is similar to "poster sessions."


We are finding that we need a better way to deal with paper conflicts. Our current software system, the University of Colorado's Conference Review Package, does not handle conflicts (author to reviewer) well. We have discussed implementing a "reviewer certification" process wherein a reviewer, once selected/invited, must indicate which groups they have potential conflicts with. In this way then the system will track conflicts better than our ad-hoc methods today.


OOPSLA has established a wiki for the conference committee to use while planning for the conference as well as a wiki to use during the conference by the attendees. We are also investigating new ideas in the next couple of years to improve some of the traditional venues such as introducing classes for certification purposes as part of the tutorial program.


DAC is in the process of trying theme days -- there is one day of a conference dedicated to a specific theme, and a different theme is chosen each year.


SIGGRAPH is trying to curate more content in growing areas for which the number or quality of submissions is currently low. Curation is at the discretion of each program chair. For example, content relating to new display technologies, computational photography, human-robot interaction, and legal issues such as DRM is likely to be curated in 2006 and 2007.

Discussion Begins

Being Program Chair

I made an effort the carefully document the paper selection process for 2005 International Symposium on Computer Architecure (ISCA) with items ranging from the broad (seek reasons to accept, rather than reject, papers) to the narrow (use an egg timer):

Mark D. Hill, Some Advice for Program Committee Chairs Based on my ISCA 2005 Experience, April 2005,

--Mark Hill