Lance Fortnow wrote a terrific op ed in the current issue of Communications of the ACM, arguing that the field of computer science should operate like most other academic disciplines and use journal publications as the primary measure of research contributions, freeing up conferences to serve a community role.
I agree (nearly) completely. The conference publication system is broken. Computer science papers are by and large not scholarly documents: many are sloppily written in deadline-driven haste with poor literature reviews, often blamed on page limits. Many reviews are rushed or cursory and decisions are safe at best, arbitrary at worst. The conference system encourages balkanization and discourages the emergence of a unified computer science conference.
Journals are better, as long as we move forward and not backward. We need open-access journals with fast turnaround times. Lance’s article itself underscores the point: it’s behind a pay wall, albeit a comparatively inexpensive and lenient one — Lance can distribute the near-final pre-print version on his own web page. That’s good but not good enough.
Kamal and Panos also have some refreshing ideas on this subject. Platforms like Yoav Freund’s machine learning forum represent a natural and intelligent evolution of peer review.
3 thoughts on “A must read for computer scientists: Lance is right: Time to grow up”
I’m a big fan of the journals as outlets, see http://jimjansen.blogspot.com/2008/08/publishing-at-conferences-versus-in.html
Thanks Jim. Great post: well said.
Conferences should be done away with. Most of the good conferences take place in US or in Europe, and it becomes too costly and time consuming for researchers from other countries in Asia, to attend them. An average expense of a conference easily crosses 1000$ per person, this is far more than what most professors in India get in a month.
The community should be inclusive, but currently, it only caters to the rich western european countries and US only 🙁
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