Revision to the CSCW June 2020 paper review process

This post is written by Sarita, in response to conversations with my Papers Co-Chairs (Juho and Siân), the Editor team (Andrea, Andrés, Morgan, Sean, Uichin, and Sue), the Chairs, and the Steering Committee. If you have feedback, concerns, or questions, email the Papers Chairs at: papers2020@cscw.acm.org

Summary: For the June 1 deadline, new submissions and Major Revision submissions will receive 3 reviews, not the standard 4 reviews.

Why did you do this?
We decided that during a pandemic, reducing the reviewing load on our community is a humane, conscientious, and practical thing to do. Specifically, this allows us to preemptively adapt to a possible decreased availability of reviewers.

Who will write the reviews?
Each paper will receive a combined review + metareview from the 1AC, and two additional reviews. The two additional reviews will typically come from 2 external reviewers, but may occasionally come from 1 external reviewer + the 2AC. On some occasions, a paper may receive a 4th review from the 2AC if the 1AC or Editor requests it. This could be triggered if reviewers cannot agree, there is an ethical concern, or some other discrepancy.

Table showing differences between June 1 review model and typical model.

Won’t this decrease the quality of the review process?
Receiving reviews from 3 people rather than 4 people will reduce the depth and breadth of reviews received for authors. We anticipate that the 3 reviews will still be of the high quality that CSCW is known for. This approach prioritizes a fair review process (everyone gets 3 reviews) rather than what could end up being an unfair process (some people got their 4 but others only got 3 due to unavoidable decreases in reviewer availability/reliability).

Doesn’t this approach only reduce the load on ACs?
Reviewers already have a built in mechanism for reducing their own load if they need to — reviewers can easily decline a review request. In contrast, ACs have already entered an agreement to be ACs and it is more difficult for them to opt out, despite challenges they may be facing. We took a poll of our ACs and, as predicted, most communicated that their availability has decreased but almost all are still committed to their AC responsibilities. Taking care of ACs is important because: 1) we value our ACs and their service; 2) we don’t want to overwork our ACs and decrease our AC pool for 2021; and 3) overworked ACs tend to underperform, which is unfair to authors and creates a significant burden on Editors and Chairs.

Do authors need to do anything different under this new model?
No.

Does this follow the ACM guidelines? Will we still publish in PACM HCI?
Yes. We will still publish in PACM HCI and follow PACM guidelines. There are three reviews because the 1AC will also write one.
https://www.acm.org/publications/pacm/introducing-pacm

Is this for new submissions or for Major Revisions?
Both. Major Revisions will not receive a rereview from 2ACs, except in occasional cases where the 1AC or Editor decides to request it.

What does this mean for June 1 new submissions that receive a Major Revision decision?
Papers that receive a Major Revision decision will submit their Major Revisions to a stopgap deadline about 3 months after the June 1 deadline. Those submissions will again have 3 reviews total.

What is the timeline for the review process?
We are building in more buffers than we had the last two cycles. Previously, decisions were returned within 8–9 weeks. That required a very tight timeline on our end. We will work with ACs to assess their ability to meet deadlines. Most likely, we will need to extend the decision timeline beyond what it was the past two cycles.

What does this mean for 2021?
This change is only for the June 1 submission cycle. CSCW 2021 Chairs will communicate their plans for the Oct 15 deadline closer to the date.

Where can I learn more?
The CSCW 2020 CfP is here: https://cscw.acm.org/2020/index.php/papers/

The June 1 deadline is described here: https://medium.com/@ACM_CSCW/revised-deadlines-in-response-to-covid-19-27b940ca12ab

Still have questions?
Feel free to email us: papers2020@cscw.acm.org

ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.