Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Faster program committees

Why not have the following procedure to select papers?

Day 1: submission deadline
Day 1 to day 3: assignment of submitted papers to PC members
Day 4 to day 9: physical PC meeting at some location such as Dagstuhl or NSF to read, discuss, and select the papers
Day 10: list of accepted papers is made public.

Pros:
The work for PC members would be concentrated in a single week, more efficient.
Authors would get results almost immediately.
There would be much more interaction between PC members, which would be a much more efficient way to read, learn and form an opinion about submissions.
There would be a clearer distinction between conference and journal evaluation.
The total amount of work per PC member would be reduced.

Cons:
There wouldn't be time to get outside expertise except for emergencies.
The type-A PC members might dominate the decisions.
PC members would be spending that time away from their families.
Would any conference center be willing to let a committee use their space for that?

4 comments:

  1. What about scheduling a few video conferences with all PC members, in lieu of spending time in an actual conference center? That could take care of your two last cons.

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  2. I am worried by the first con (little outside expertise). One likely result is that most accepted papers would be on topics that PC members consider trendy.
    I suppose it is already like that to some extent, but it would only get worse.

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  3. J: I have used video conferencing a few times, and it doesn't work so well. The remote speaker is still in his usual work environment and still gets interrupted by the usual chores; he is multitasking and does not stay focused on the single topic of conference submissions evaluation. Overall I don't care much for it (although I recognize that it can be very convenient)

    P: yes, it's a definite tradeoff!

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  4. The location issue isn't that severe. Most likely the PC chair will be at a university, and the department conference room facilities can be used for discussions.

    The bigger problem is the reviewing. Most PC members outsource papers to experts to read, and this is a good thing, because ideally the paper gets routed to someone who actually knows what's going on. However, in your model, there really isn't time for that. The right person might be travelling or otherwise inaccessible, and there's little time to turn around and find someone else.

    But maybe adding a week between day 3 and day 4 will work. I should mention that at least one conference I know of (SGP: the symposium on geometry processing) has a 30 day turn around time, and the papers are a geometry+graphics hybrid.

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