others report perfunctory or absentee
shepherds. Assigning a shepherd is often a face-saving means to calm down
a program committee member who
has reservations. Shepherded papers
virtually always make it into the corral. The 2011 Internet Measurement
Conference gave authors a choice of a
shepherd or a ‘soft’ open review alternative (publishing the paper with its reviews and the author’s descriptions of
changes). Most chose the latter.
Publish reviews. Reviews of accepted
HotNets 2004 and SIGCOMM 2006
papers were posted publicly. Neither
conference continued the practice, perhaps because of the extra effort that reviewers reported. Similar experiments
are under way.
Improve presentations. ICME 2011
required authors of accepted papers to
submit lecture videos. A subset was selected for oral presentation.
Other member support efforts include offering a free registration and
a five-minute ‘boaster’ presentation to
finishing graduate students at Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science.
Publicly honoring exemplary reviewers, a practice of some journals, has
been encouraged for conferences.
Conclusion: Change is
In computer science especially, conferences and journals compete to communicate and archive results. Journal
articles grow shorter and reviewing
time decreases. Conference reviewing
rigor increases and proceedings are
more polished. Measures of impact
now cover both. There are stresses, but
is there a need for a major adjustment?
We think so. The wealth of proposals and experiments signal dissatisfaction with the status quo. Some involve
bringing conferences and journals
closer through direct ties or shared
features. Adding a revision cycle led
to more acceptances, but also shorter
presentation times, more parallel sessions, and a shift from acceptance
rates to citations and downloads as
measures of impact.
At risk with conference-journal hybrids is the community building and
community maintenance that conferences once provided. Many conferences decline in size even as the researchers and practitioners in the field
at risk with
hybrids is the
increase in number. The popularity of
workshops that accompany conferences reveals a need for member support
and a sense of community, but a set of
disjoint workshops does not signify a
thriving community. Indeed, successful workshops often spin off to become
Other changes may be coming. Glo-balism has made geographically anchored conferences more expensive.
As real-time audio and video become
more reliable, travel becomes more
uncomfortable, and concern for our
carbon footprint grows, community
activity may move online, perhaps suddenly. We cannot predict the future,
but we do know the future will not resemble the present or the past.
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3. Feldmann, a. Experiences from the sIGCOMM 2005
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Computer Communication Review 35, 3 (2005),
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Commun. ACM 54, 2, (Feb. 2011), 41–43.
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Jonathan Grudin ( email@example.com) is a principal
researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wa.
Gloria Mark ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of
information and computer science at the university of
John Riedl ( email@example.com) is a professor of
computer science at the university of Minnesota.
Copyright held by author.
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