Principles for SIGCOMM

A Clarification Of Our Paper Reviewing Proposal

In response to several questions, we want to clarify our paper reviewing proposal. Some have interpreted this as accepting any paper that gets at least one “Likely Accept” which is not what we intended, and would definitely lead to a large increase in the number of accepted papers. The purpose of this proposal is not primarily to accept more papers, but instead to broaden the range of papers to include those that are disfavored by our current reviewing standards. To that end, the process we had in mind for the PC discussions is the following:

  1. As today, each paper is thoroughly discussed at the PC meeting.
  2. If the overall sentiment is for an acceptance, nothing changes and the paper is accepted.
  3. If the overall sentiment is trending towards a rejection, the PC chairs ask if any of the reviewers want to “champion” the paper (i.e., be an advocate for its acceptance despite the prevailing sentiment against acceptance). Note that becoming a champion is independent of what that reviewer’s initial rating was on the paper.
  4. If such a champion steps forward, the paper is typically accepted.
  5. The exception is in the extremely rare circumstances where the PC chairs feel that the champion is acting irresponsibly (e.g., blatantly disregarding the content of the negative reviews), and in such cases the PC chairs can decide to reject in spite of the champion’s request.

We think the championing of a paper against the prevailing sentiment will be relatively rare, and will require some degree of enthusiasm about the paper. This does not imply that the champion thinks this is a great paper, merely that they think it would be valuable for the community to hear.

An alternative that some have suggested is that we require two or more such advocates. We fear that this would lead to accepting more borderline papers that are quite similar in nature to what SIGCOMM traditionally accepts, but won’t broaden the program nearly as much. We would prefer to accept papers with a single enthusiastic champion than to help tip the balance for borderline papers.

Of course, no one knows how either of these proposals will play out in practice. The community should reevaluate this process after seeing it in action, and we can then take the appropriate measures. However, as a starting position, we think it important to explore how much we can broaden the program through the enthusiasm of individual reviewers.

Jul 24, 2023