Over the past several months, the ICER 2021 chairs have been working closely with the new ICER Steering Committee (Sally Fincher, Brian Dorn, Mark Guzdial, Quintin Cutts, and Leo Porter), as well as the SIGCSE board, to make several changes to the ICER review and publication process.
Our goal with these changes is broadly to broaden participation in the conference’s main research track, making room for more diverse epistemologies and research methods, providing constructive support to authors uncertain about the community’s standards, ensuring that published works are more accessible to people with disabilities, and increasing the transparency of our review process to improve trust amongst the growing community of computing education researchers globally.
Here are the changes for 2021:
- New publication workflow. We will be adopting the new ACM TAPS publication process for conference proceedings. This process has been in development for many years, and represents the future of ACM publishing. It has many advantages, most notably that it separates content from presentation, allowing publications that appear in the ACM DL to be available in many formats, including PDF, HTML, ePub, and XML. This will ensure the accessibility of research to people who rely on screen readers, as well as improve the convenience of reading published works on multiple platforms. While TAPS has been used by other conferences for a few years, it is still new and being improved; expect some learning, troubleshooting, and confusion as we work with ACM to improve the publishing platform. We’ll do our best to communicate clearly and help everyone through the bumpy transition.
- New length limits. One consequence of TAPS is that the review format for papers (ACM’s single column review format) and the eventual publication format (PDF, HTML, ePub, XML, etc.) are no longer the same. This has a major implication: it is no longer feasible to impose a page limit on submissions, because final publication formats vary in length and have no consistent notion of a “page.” Therefore, this year, we are moving to a word count limit instead, with the expectation that papers will vary in length, and that their contribution justifies their length. As part of this, we’ve increased the overall length limit of papers, allowing for research methods that may require more text to convey results (e.g., qualitative work with extensive quotes, design contributions with extensive figures). See the call for papers for details on the count limits and how words will be counted.
- Conditional accepts. In past years, when the PC found papers that were close to being ready for acceptance, but needed minor revisions, there was no way for the PC to accept the paper with minor revision conditions, leading some works to be rejected. This year, we are adopting a new conditional accept process: if the Senior PC can identify a set of minor revisions that are feasible to complete within a week, they may propose these revisions as conditions, the PC will review them, and if authors satisfy the conditions within the deadline to the PC’s satisfaction, the paper will be accepted. Minor revisions within this model will necessarily be small and cannot change the contribution of the paper; they will include things like clarifications, additional detail for replication, and corrections. This process also resolves confusion about whether authors of accepted papers need to make recommended changes (they do not; if they are required, they will be stated so).
- Awards. There is a new awards committee, separate from the program co-chairs. Awards will be independently selected by this committee, rather than by the PC chairs, ensuring a more robust process for evaluating and selecting awards. Details on this are forthcoming from the Steering Committee.
- Revised reviewer guidelines and author guidelines. In 2020, the ICER program co-chairs wrote author and reviewer guidelines, to help authors get guidance on how to manage the many diverse challenges of writing research papers, and anticipate some of the expectations and best practices that the ICER PC will use to evaluate. We have expanded and clarified these guides for 2021, hoping to increase the transparency of the review process and criteria. Read these, and share with us any feedback or concerns you have about them by commenting directly on the documents, or writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
While these changes only go so far in improving the diversity of works published at ICER, we do hope they are meaningful and impactful changes that expand the intellectual and epistemological scope of the conference, while also moving us toward ACM’s vision of a more accessible, inclusive digital library. If you have any questions or concerns about any of these changes, please write the chairs at email@example.com.
We look forward to your submissions, and are excited to see all of you at our virtual conference in August, 2021! (More details on that soon).
Amy Ko, PC co-chair
Jan Vahrenhold, PC co-chair
Renee McCauley, site co-chair
Matthias Hauswirth, site co-chair
In collaboration with the ICER Steering Committee and SIGCSE Board