Find answers to common questions that may arise during the effort to prepare and submit a paper to the SC Conference. If your question is not addressed here, please contact us. We will try to answer your question promptly and, if appropriate, will consider adding it to this FAQ.



Area of Contribution


Q: Is it mandatory for authors to select the primary area of their contribution?

A: Yes. Authors must indicate their primary area of contribution from the nine topic choices on the submissions form. We understand that contributions may straddle more than one area; in such cases, we encourage authors to indicate a secondary area of contribution.




Q: What constitutes a State-of-the-Practice (SOP) paper?

A: An SOP paper can describe a first-of-its-kind technology or methodology, or can capture a unique perspective (or experience) on issues, challenges, and solutions for dealing with aspects of unprecedented scale and complexity, particularly experience and knowledge that can be generalized to a wide range of systems and usages. Concrete case studies within a conceptual framework (i.e., experiential topics) would likely serve as the basis for SOP papers, and generalizing the experience to wider applicability should be explored.


Q: I am concerned that if the standards for SOP are the same as for other papers, the SOP papers will be rejected for not being sufficiently academically rigorous. How will reviewers handle this?

A: Although SOP papers will be reviewed with the same academic rigor as the papers in other areas, the acceptance criteria will be tailored to value new and generalizable insights as gained from experience with particular HPC machines, operations, applications, or benchmarks; overall analysis of the status quo of a particular metric of the entire field; or historical review of the progress of the field.

Such papers are common in other academic disciplines, including branches of computer science. For example, software engineering highly values the “experience papers” of particular frameworks and methodologies; human–computer interaction produces numerous analyses of human behavior given particular interfaces; social sciences collect data on social phenomena and produce meaningful insights based on their statistical analysis.


Review and Rebuttal


Q: What are the review criteria for acceptance?

A: We will focus on originality, technical soundness, presentation quality, timeliness, impact, and relevance to SC. These criteria will be applied uniformly across the nine topical areas (Algorithms; Applications; Architectures and Networks; Clouds and Distributed Computing; Data Analytics, Visualization, and Storage; Performance; Programming Systems; State of the Practice; and System Software) to drive the acceptance of contributions that measurably improve the state of the art along dimensions that are relevant for SC.


Q: What is a rebuttal?

A: A rebuttal addresses factual errors made by reviewers and answers reviewers’ questions. Submitters will have an opportunity to upload a rebuttal (up to 750 words) via the submissions system during a designated rebuttal period. Rebuttals will be read and factored into discussions leading up to the acceptance decisions made by the Papers Committee.


Q: Should I write a rebuttal?

A: The author(s) of any paper may submit a rebuttal at their own discretion. Submitting a rebuttal is generally a good idea, if only to acknowledge the reviewers’ efforts and to indicate how the paper will evolve as a result of their constructive feedback. Rebuttals are also useful to address any errors contained in the reviews or specific questions than can be answered briefly in simple text.


Q: What should be included in the rebuttal?

A: The rebuttal should address any factual errors in the reviews and answer any questions posed by reviewers. The rebuttal can also help clarify the merits and novelty of the paper with respect to prior work, if the authors feel that the reviewers misunderstood the paper’s contributions and scope. The rebuttal is very limited in length, and must be self-contained (it cannot, for instance, contain URLs linking to external pages).


Q: What if a reviewer clearly didn’t read my paper carefully enough? What if the reviewer seems to lack basic knowledge about the paper’s focus area? How should the rebuttal address these issues?

A: We’ve all received reviews that made us angry, particularly on first reading. The rebuttal period is short and may not allow authors a “cooling-off” period before they respond to their review. As a result, authors need to be particularly careful to address only factual errors or reviewer questions in their rebuttal, rather than letting their emotions show through.
Please don’t say: “If reviewer X had just taken the time to read my paper carefully, he would have realized that our algorithm was rotation invariant.” Instead, say: “Unfortunately, Section 4 must not have been as clear as we had hoped, because Reviewer X did not understand that our algorithm was rotation invariant and he was therefore skeptical about the general applicability of our approach. This revised version of the second paragraph in Section 4 should clear up this confusion.”

Remember that your rebuttal is sent to all reviewers; you do not want to offend or alienate them. In particular, you want the reviewers to come out of the rebuttal process sufficiently enthused about your paper to champion it at the committee meeting, and if the paper is accepted and needs to be revised, then you want them to feel sufficiently comfortable with you as an author that they are willing to “shepherd” the paper through the revision process.


Q: I uploaded a rebuttal, but did not receive feedback. How can I be sure the reviewers read my rebuttal?

A: If you can view your rebuttal comments in the online review system, so can your reviewers. Rest assured that rebuttal information is considered and can be very helpful in the selection process.




Q: Is there an award given for best paper?

A: Yes. Best Paper (BP) and Best Student Paper (BSP) candidates are selected during the review meeting in June and announced together with the notifications after the meeting. BP and BSP candidates are marked in the conference program. The BP and BSP winners are selected at the conference by an ad-hoc committee and announced at the award ceremony on Thursday.

For SC18, in order to be considered for Best Paper or Best Student Paper, the authors must submit an artifact description appendix.




Q: I understand that the SC Conference applies a plagiarism test program to submissions. What constitutes plagiarism? Is it possible for an author to plagiarize their own work?

A: Please see ACM’s guidelines on identifying plagiarism.

Authors should submit new, original work that represents a significant advance from even their own prior publications.


Conflicts of Interest


Q: What are the SC guidelines for Conflicts of Interest (COI)?

A: A potential conflict of interest occurs when a person is involved in making a decision that 1) could result in that person, a close associate of that person, or that person’s company or institution receiving significant financial gain, such as a contract or grant, or 2) could result in that person, or a close associate of that person, receiving significant professional recognition, such as an award or the selection of a paper, work, exhibit, or other type of submitted presentation.

The Papers Committee members will be given the opportunity to list potential conflicts during the review process. Papers Committee chairs and area chairs will make every effort to avoid assignments that have a potential COI.

According to the SC Conference you have a conflict of interest with:

  • Your PhD advisors, post-doctoral advisors, PhD students, and post-doctoral advisees forever;
  • Family relations by blood or marriage, or equivalent (e.g., a partner);
  • People with whom you collaborated in the past five years. Collaborators include: co-authors on an accepted/rejected/pending research paper; co-PIs on an accepted/pending grant; those who fund your research; researchers whom you fund; or researchers with whom you are actively collaborating;
  • Close personal friends or others with whom you believe a conflict of interest exists;
  • People who were employed by, or a student at, your primary institution(s) in the past five years, or people who are active candidates for employment at your primary institution(s).

Note that “service” collaborations, such as writing a DOE, NSF, or DARPA report, or serving on a program committee, or serving on the editorial board of a journal do not inherently create a COI..

Other situations can create COIs, and you should contact the Papers Chair for questions or clarification on any of these issues.