in previous research works. M. Biryukov et al. 1 study individual newcomer
authors, B. Vasilescu et al. 9 and J.L.
Cánovas et al. 2 calculate just a coarse-grained newcomers value as part of a
larger set of general metrics. We hope
to trigger additional research and, especially, general discussions around
the trade-offs of closing/opening up
more of our research communities5
with this Viewpoint.
We are aware this is a challenging process due to the leadership role
many conferences play in our research
system. And we acknowledge opening
up a conference is, in fact, an act of
generosity. Unless we avoid the zero-sum game of the current publication
model (with a somehow fixed number
of slots to keep acceptance rates low)
any explicit action to increase newcomer participation implies decreasing our own chances to get published.
Still, we believe the newcomers’ problem cannot be swept under the carpet
any longer if we want to ensure we
keep a vibrant and growing community in our research area.
1. Biryukov, M. and Dong, C. Analysis of computer science
communities based on DBLP. Lecture Notes in Computer
Science (including Subser. Lect. Notes Artif. Intell. Lect.
Notes Bioinformatics), 6273 LNCS (2010), 228–235.
2. Cánovas Izquierdo, J. L., Cosentino, V., and Cabot, J.
Analysis of co-authorship graphs of CORE-ranked
software conferences. Scientometrics 109, 3 (Dec.
3. Franceschet, M. The role of conference publications in
CS. Commun. ACM 53, 12 (Dec. 2010), 129.
4. Freyne, J. et al. Relative status of journal and
conference publications in computer science.
Commun. ACM 53, 11 (Nov. 2010), 124.
5. Gebert, D. and Boerner, S. The open and the closed
corporation as conflicting forms of organization. J.
Appl. Behav. Sci. 35, 3 (Sept. 1999), 341–359.
6. Le Goues, C. et al. Effectiveness of anonymization in
double-blind review. Commun. ACM 61, 6 (June 2018),
7. Steinmacher, I. et al. A systematic literature review
on the barriers faced by newcomers to open source
software projects. Inf. Softw. Technol. 59 (2015), 67–85.
8. Vardi, M. Y. Divination by program committee.
Commun. ACM 60, 9 (Aug. 2017), 7.
9. Vasilescu, B. et al. How healthy are software
engineering conferences? Sci. Comput. Program. 89,
PAR T C (2014), 251–272.
Jordi Cabot ( email@example.com) is an ICREA
Research Professor at the Universitat Oberta de
Catalunya (UOC), an Internet-centered open university
based in Barcelona, Spain.
Javier Luis Cánovas Izquierdo ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is
a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Universitat Oberta
Valerio Cosentino ( email@example.com) was a
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Universitat Oberta
de Catalunya. Since September 2017, he is a software
developer at Bitergia, an open source company devoted to
offer software development analytics, part of the CHAOSS
project of the Linux Foundation.
Copyright held by authors
conferences but there is already a part
of the community that challenges the
idea that very low acceptance rates
are indeed good for us. ICSE’ 17 conference went to the extreme of limiting the number of papers to be submitted by a single author (restriction
dropped in 2018 since the community
felt it strongly discouraged collaboration). Given that newcomers typically
submit far fewer papers, this could
help prevent established researchers
filling so many slots. An interesting
experience nevertheless worth being
reevaluated in the future (even if with
˲Adopt more journal-like review
systems. Introducing revision cycles
in a conference could help newcomers to fix obvious but easy-to-correct
mistakes that would otherwise force
a paper rejection. Even better, a rolling deadline, allowing submissions all
year-round (VLDB-style) would avoid
paper acceptance to be decided on the
basis of the paper itself and not related
to the others in order to avoid over the
limit acceptance rates.
˲ Start mentoring programs where
young researchers can pre-submit
their work and get some advice (
typically from former PC members) before the actual submission. While
mentoring may have a limited success
in getting the newcomers’ papers in
immediately, it could have a positive
long-lasting effect in speeding up the
˲ Draw ideas from other domains
where they may face similar problems.
For instance, in the open source community, many projects struggle to attract new contributors and have come
up with proposals to attract more people. 7 Examples (adapted to our field)
would be to have a dedicated portal for
newcomers clearly explaining how papers in the conference are evaluated,
showing examples of good papers (in
terms of style and structure), listing typical mistakes first submitters do based
on the experience of PC members, and
so forth. And, importantly, encouraging them to keep trying if they are not
initially successful—they may not be
aware senior researchers also get many
Despite the number of works analyzing co-authorship graphs, newcomers metrics have been mostly ignored
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