A message to the The Web Conference community
Some of you have voiced concerns regarding a review policy we set up for The Web Conference 2022. We are very grateful for the feedback we received and appreciate the opportunity to continue to discuss the matter with you in a constructive way.
Academic conferences are in a crisis. We are struggling with a huge rise in the number of submissions and review loads. As chairs we face many challenges, which established peer-review models cannot meet.
We proposed a different model this year, which relies on qualified authors of submitted papers sharing the review load. While our thinking was informed by emerging practices at other big conferences, the policy is certainly not perfect and your feedback has helped us iterate over it.
Very few people would disagree that papers should be judged on merit. But that puts a lot of faith in the peer-review system. If the peer-review process collapses beyond recognition – for instance because there aren’t enough reviewers or because they cannot cope with an increased review load – then no one wins. This is why we felt we had to come up with different ways to find reviewers – we’ve implemented two main measures: (i) we launched a campaign on social media to seek volunteer reviewers; and (ii) we asked authors of submitted papers to share the review load.
In response to (i) we received 125 responses to date, for which we are very thankful. However, with 2500+ abstracts submitted as of last week, a new record for the conference series, we cannot rely on this alone. This is why measure (ii) is so critical. To ensure the quality of reviews, track chairs vet each PC member, including volunteers and relevant paper authors. This is explained in the authors’ FAQ in more detail.
Over the last weeks and months we have sought feedback and listened to your concerns. As a result, we understood that linking paper decisions to review duties was not the best way forward. Instead, we hope paper authors who are qualified to review at The Web Conference will continue to support us. This would ensure we have enough reviewers to handle the number of submissions received, and perhaps even reduce the review load per PC member.
Going forward, we would appreciate any ideas on how to encourage review quality across the whole programme committee. We also plan a session on scaling up academic events at the conference in April to engage with the community further.
October 19, 2021