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
- Lightweight Revisions
- Conflicts of Interest (COI)
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.
Q: What is a lightweight revision?
A: The SC18 lightweight revision process allows you to submit rebuttal text and a revision in response to your reviews, before the final decision on your paper is made. In the past, authors were only allowed submit a rebuttal addressing factual errors in reviews, and specific questions posed by reviewers. This year, SC18 encourages authors to submit a revision to their paper to address reviews directly in the paper draft. Unlike a rebuttal, a revision may contain new material, but it MUST be clearly marked.
Q: How should I mark changes in my revision?
A: We encourage authors to generate a marked-up document showing changes using tools like LatexDiff, or using the “track changes” feature in Microsoft Word. Alternately, authors may document their revision in the rebuttal text (limited to 750 words), but this is not as easy for reviewers to understand.
Q: Should I submit a revision?
A: The authors of any paper may upload a revision. The choice of whether to submit one and how much time to spend on it is up to the authors of each paper. As a general guideline, submitting a revision is a good idea, if nothing else, to acknowledge the efforts of the reviewers and to indicate how the paper will evolve as a result of their constructive feedback. Submitting rebuttal text (even without a revision) may also be useful to clarify address any errors that the reviews contain or specific questions than can be answered with short textual descriptions.
Q: What should be included in the rebuttal?
A: The rebuttal, as in years past, can be used to address factual errors in the reviews or to answer specific questions posed by reviewers. The rebuttal can also help clarify the merits and novelty of the paper with respect to prior work. As the rebuttal text accompanies your revision, it should *also* provide a high level description of the changes you’ve made in your revision, referring to specific parts of the text. Choose wisely, as your rebuttal is limited to 750 words.
Q: Now that I’ve read the reviews of my paper, I see much better how to organize it so it will be clear to the reader. Can I do this reorganization and upload the new version during the rebuttal period?
A: Yes. We encourage you to submit this kind of change as a revision, PROVIDED that you clearly document your changes as mentioned above. The committee members will have only a short time in which to read and act on your revision, and you must make it clear what changes you have made and why. We recommend putting high-level rationale in the rebuttal text, and clearly showing your changes to the paper using LatexDiff (or similar).
Q: Between paper submission and the rebuttal period, we’ve gotten some really cool new results for our paper. Can I upload those results during the rebuttal period? I’m sure that they will make the reviewers realize the importance of our approach.
A: Yes, but again, you MUST clearly document your changes and rationale in your revision.
Q: Doesn’t this incentivize authors to submit an extremely rough first draft, and only make updates *after* reviewer feedback?
A: Maybe, but as the old adage goes, there’s no second chance to make a first impression. Your reviewers will have had much more time to look at your first draft, and their initial scores will be based on it. We have introduced the revision process to allow authors to *prove* their rebuttal claims, and we believe the chance to add new material allows a revision to be much more persuasive than a rebuttal. That doesn’t mean that revisions will change a reviewer’s mind if their first impression of a paper was completely negative. Further, reviewers still only have limited time to look at your revisions, so you should still strive to make every phase of the submission process count.
Q: What if a reviewer clearly didn’t read my paper carefully enough? What if the reviewer seems to lack basic knowledge of the area on which the paper focuses? How should my rebuttal and revision address these issues?
A: We’ve all received reviews that made us angry, particularly on first reading. The revision period is short and doesn’t allow for the cooling-off period that authors have before they write a response to a journal review. We provide you the opportunity to submit a rebuttal and a revision to address these issues, but you should still be careful with the wording of your response.
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 and revision are sent to all reviewers; you do not want to offend or to alienate them. In particular, you want the reviewers to come out of the revision process sufficiently enthused about your paper to champion it at the committee meeting, and you want them to feel sufficiently comfortable with you as an author that they are willing to “shepherd” the paper through the rest of the SC18 revision process. This year more than ever, you have ample chances to convince your reviewers. Use them wisely.
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.