The CHI 2019 Papers track, which is bigger by submission volume and organizational effort than the rest of the CHI tracks combined, closed last Friday. In this blog post we look at what has happened so far with submissions and to give you an idea of what will happen next and to encourage you to be part of the ‘chi circle of kindness’ by contributing to the community review effort.
On the 14th of September, 3784 abstracts were submitted to PCS, the conference’s submission system. By the deadline on the 21st of September, there were 2966 complete submissions left in PCS. This means that 22% of submissions at the abstract phase were either deleted or left incomplete by the deadline.
Excepting any submissions that are rejected early in the process, these 2966 papers (a 14% increase in complete paper submissions compared to CHI2018) will each receive four reviews: two external reviews, one internal review from the 2AC and one meta-review from the 1AC. Therefore, the submissions will require almost 12,000 reviews. This is a huge amount of work.
We need your help as part of the community to get through this work. Last year 2651 reviewers produced 5105 reviews. But most people only wrote one. This meant that 1053 reviewers produced 3621 reviews. Remember that this year we will need additional external reviews to ensure everyone’s submissions get the kind of attention that makes CHI a high-quality venue for publishing.
So we’d love you to volunteer to review here, especially so if you are an author as each paper you have submitted generates four reviews: https://new.precisionconference.com/review_volunteering
We’re doing all of this with the added ‘excitement’ of using PCS 2.0 for the first time for CHI – please be patient as we deal with the inevitable teething problems that come with using a new system. And dealing with teething problems also takes a huge additional effort over and above the huge volunteer effort already involved in making CHI happen. For this we already owe a huge debt of thanks to the papers chairs (and many other members of the committee and the SIGCHI EC) who have been working on our behalf to make it all happen!
TPC chairs for CHI 2019, Anna Cox and Vassilis Kostakos
Analytics chair for CHI 2019, Sandy Gould
We’re making some changes to the papers reviewing and submission process this year, and thought it would be useful to communicate this and the reasons for these changes to the community. There are a few differences to the ways that we’ll be handling things this year that we want to highlight – use of an all-virtual meeting, use of quick rejects, use of a new version of PCS, and an update to the paper templates. We’ll document these changes below, and we feel strongly that these are necessary for sustaining the conference over the long term, ensuring the quality of the research presented, providing an equitable playing field for authors, and helping us – the CHI community – to work more effectively.
This year, the PC meeting held in December will be almost all-virtual. The general chairs, technical program chairs, paper chairs, subcommittee chairs and some student volunteers will be present at a meeting in Glasgow. But, ALL the Associate Chairs (ACs) will be virtual. In past years, we have experimented with virtual subcommittees, starting with one subcommittee for CHI 2016, three for CHI 2017 and six for CHI 2018. This year, all 12 subcommittees will be running virtually. The ACs will all be remote, and participating electronically in a synchronously held PC meeting. The decision to go completely virtual was not taken lightly, and was approved by the CHI Steering Committee as a trial for this year. The decision was based on many factors: while the value of in-person (non-virtual meetings) is high, there are a number of reasons that a virtual PC meeting makes sense:
- the cost of running such a large meeting (larger than almost all SIGCHI conferences!)
- the environmental sustainability of hundreds of people flying to the PC meeting and then again to the conference (plus the travel time itself)
- and the desire to grow our community by recruiting ACs that otherwise couldn’t participate in an in-person meeting due to cost of travel, health, family, etc.
As we have challenges with time zones (not all ACs can participate synchronously for the full day meeting in Glasgow – for example, for ACs on the west coast of the United States and Canada, the PC meeting starts at 1am and ends at 9am each day, for 2 days), we are not asking all ACs to attend the entire PC meeting. Instead, based on their time zone, ACs will be asked to participate in the PC meeting for a particular window of time (minimum of 5 hours each day).
As well, we are encouraging ACs to participate more in the discussion of papers where they were not assigned a 1AC/2AC/3AC role. We are formalizing this role as observer, and are hoping that just like in a physical PC meeting, observers will participate in the discussion of a paper at the PC meeting. This may not be possible depending on time zone availability, so we are also asking observers to add to the PCS discussion forum for papers so their input can be considered at the PC meeting even if they are not present to participate in the synchronous discussion.
As Papers Chairs, we will work with SC’s to monitor how discussions of papers are managed at the PC meeting to ensure that papers are handled fairly and equitably.
Use of Quick Rejects
In the papers review process for CHI 2018, we had papers that were rejected early in the process, before papers went out for review. Some were desk rejected (out of scope, over the page limit, or some other egregious issue) and some were quick rejected (missing something critical that would make replication, analysis or validation of claims impossible, insufficient contribution, etc.). In both cases, the papers were looked at by 2 ACs, the Subcommittee Chairs, and the Papers Chairs, but did not go out for external review, to save reviewer effort. However, these papers only accounted for 1.7% of the submitted papers. With expectations that the conference submission rate will continue to grow at ~8% per year, and to focus the community’s reviewing energy on the papers that are more likely to be accepted, we are asking the program committee to put extra effort into identifying those papers that have little chance of acceptance before they go out to reviewers. As happened last year, authors of those papers will receive early notification (likely in October) that their paper has been rejected, along with a short review from the program committee to provide some useful feedback to authors.
New PCS (or “PCS 2.0”)
The team running precisionconference (PCS), the conference management system that CHI and many other conferences have used for several years, have created a newer version of PCS. CSCW and a few other SIGCHI conferences have used it in the past year, and now we are ready to migrate CHI to it. Based on our experiences, the experience for authors, reviewers and committee members should be more seamless and improved over the earlier version. As this is new for most of us, please do bring any concerns or issues to our attention.
ACM and SIGCHI are in transition between the previous Word template that has been used in years past, and new, more accessible, Word and LaTeX templates. As such, for the paper submission deadline of September 21, we are accepting papers in any of these three formats. However, those papers using the previous format that are accepted for publication at CHI, will need to be converted to the new format for the camera ready.
We understand that the same paper may have different page lengths in the different formats – or put another way, a 10-page paper in each of the formats may contain different amounts of content.. Thus, we leave it to authors to choose from the three formats for their paper submission, while still holding to the maximum of 10 pages (excluding references). SCs and ACs are being asked to be forgiving of small issues or errors in the use of the templates.
For those papers that are accepted for publication, the camera-ready version will need to use the latest template. For those who wrote their submission in the original template, the submission will need to convert to the latest template. For those who wrote their submission in the new template but did not use the macros (as we indicated authors should not do), there will likely be some work to convert fully to the latest template.
Our intent is not to force anyone to cut content in order to fit into 10 pages (plus references) when converting to the latest template. How that will actually manifest itself in practice remains to be seen. For now, please concentrate on making your submission the best it can be to improve the likelihood of acceptance, and try not to worry about the potential loss of content in the conversion to the camera-ready version. As such, for the review process, we are instructing subcommittee chairs, associate chairs and reviewers to focus on paper content, and not consider what might be lost in a conversion from an older template to the latest template. This will be made clear throughout the review process, including the creation of initial reviews, the meta-review, online paper discussion, and at the PC meeting.
Update September 13: In converting text from older templates to the latest template for the camera ready, authors will NOT have to cut content to fit within a certain page limit. There should be no loss of content when switching templates, except to address reviewer concerns of course. As before, we will be instructing subcommittee chairs, associate chairs and reviewers to focus on the paper that they were given to review and administer, and not to worry about what length the paper might take in a newer format.
Hopefully this provides clarity to the entire process from submission to reviewing to submitting the camera ready. With about a week before the paper submission date, please focus your attention on making your submission the best it can be. Good luck!
Your papers chairs for CHI 2019,
Anind and Shen