Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Easychair never forgets!

When I log on to Easychair and select “My conferences” it returns a list of thirteen conferences (going back to 2007) with which I’ve been involved with in various capacities. If you were chair, you get to see everything that was submitted, and what the reviews were. A PC member can see all submitted papers, and discussions on the papers he/she was assigned. For some conferences, it seems like a PC member can in fact see the reviews of all papers; I guess it depends on what settings were originally chosen by the chair. Thus, if you submit a flakey paper to a conference that used easychair, and you got a well-deserved rejection, it remains possible for various people to log on subsequently and roar with laughter as they review your ineptitude.

Actually I quite like easychair; I even like the fact that it’s possible to dig up some vaguely-recalled paper that you reviewed in the past. But it may be a matter of concern to some people. It seems like the chair(s) of a conference/workshop can delete any submissions to that meeting, but I don’t see an obvious facility for cleanly closing the book on discussions that have served their purpose. My question: does anyone think it’s a problem that all those rejected papers and discussions continue to be available, year after year?


Anonymous said...

The problem is that we forget too much, not too little.

For one, reviews from previous submissions should be passed to the new conferences (just like resubmissions to the same journal) to save reviewer cpu-cycle times.

Also suppose a reviewer rejects your paper only to publish the result as his own a bit later? how would you ever go about following up on this if the reviews are not kept on line?

In fact, I would be in favor of making all reviews public with names attached after, say, five years. At that point any hard feelings from the decision are gone yet people could use them to evaluate the quality of reviews and reviewers.

Paul Beame said...

The only people who can see this stuff are people who were on the PC before and could see exactly the same information so that is not necessarily a problem. Is there anything to prevent someone from adding later reviews to an old conference? (Though all reviews would be time-stamped in Easychair and all review versions are saved.)

Paul Goldberg said...

I worry that the discussions may end up getting read by a wider circle of people that was originally intended. But, maybe the historians of the future who seek to understand that extinct creature, the theoretical computer scientist, will find them very useful as a means of understanding their social interactions...