The Pros and Cons
of the ‘PACM’ Proposal
On p. 5 of this issue, ACM Publications Board co-chairs
Joseph A. Konstan and Jack W. Davidson introduce a proposal
that would interweave conference and journal publishing.
Here, computer scientists Kathryn S. McKinley and
David S. Rosenblum argue for and against the proposal.
ing. When well deployed, these reviewers deliver highly expert reviews. The
most important job of program chairs
and journal editors is the same—to
find expert reviewers, going beyond
the committee and associate editors as
necessary. While individual reviews are
blinded, the committees are publicly
acknowledged. Reviewers are known to
each other, increasing accountability.
Because reviewers and leadership
change regularly and every submission
is reviewed, no one editor or associate
editor exerts influence and scientific
biases for many years or by desk rejecting submissions. Consequently, conferences are more likely to include diverse problems and approaches.
A disadvantage of conference reviewing is page-limiting submissions
to control reviewer workload, which
may cause omission of material, such
as proofs and methodology. With this
proposal, reviewers can judge page-limited submissions, but require additional material, reviewing it or not,
as appropriate. Concision is a virtue
that reviewers may also require. With
one to three months to revise accepted
papers (and more for rejected submissions), I think the result will be articles
with appropriate content without overburdening reviewers.
Conferences often produce more reviews than journals, providing authors
Point: Kathryn S. McKinley
MAKE NO MISTAKE, com- puter science research is a resounding success. Its research advances, peer eviewed and published
in conferences, created new billion-dollar industries, changing how we do
science, business, government, entertain ourselves, and communicate.
While many universities accommodate the rigorous, conference publication culture of CS, others do not. Our
practices differ from other sciences
that only peer review articles in journals, using conferences for unreviewed
talks, posters, and articles.
I recommend the ACM Publications
Board proposal because it articulates
best principles for research publication—rigorous peer reviewing and
no page restrictions—yet is flexible
enough to accommodate our conference culture. Adopting it will further
improve our process and recognize our
archival quality conferences as such,
harmonizing computer science with
the international science community.
Computer scientists use a confer-
ence reviewing process with annual
deadlines to combine peer review with
timely publication (typically five to
seven months from submission to pub-
lication). Compared to journal review-
ing, I believe our conference process
has distinct advantages that this pro-
ACM conferences are organized by
Steering Committees, with general and
program chairs and SIG representa-
tives. Program chairs generally serve
once for one year. They select Program
Committee (PC) members, who each
review 10 to 30 submissions and act
as editors, choosing accepted papers.
Because of increasing numbers of sub-
missions, many conferences have an
additional committee with fewer re-
sponsibilities. They each review 1 to 10
papers and do not attend the PC meet-
“I recommend the
it articulates best
yet is flexible enough
to accommodate our