Windows On Theory

Away with Page Limits on Submissions (II)

As discussed here, the FOCS 2013 PC did not impose page limit on submissions. As this was an experiment, it is important to try and assess its success. Clearly, no page limit in itself makes it easier on the authors, but we tried to make the CFP more demanding on authors in terms of presentation. A major concern was that the PC work (and that of sub-reviewers) would become much harder. I have asked PC members to give me feedback about their experience. The overall message is – this experiment deserves to be continued.

On the first question “Was it more work than usual? By how much?” the replies were:

Harder/A lot Harder A bit Harder/Somewhat Harder/Not Significantly About the same/Easier
3 4 9

On the second question “Would you recommend a future PC to continue with no page limit?” the replies were very similar (one PC member thought that it was a bit harder but still worth it):

Oppose / Strongly Oppose Neutral Support / Strongly Support
3 3 10

I will not repeat arguments for this change that I already discussed. Instead, let me discuss some replies from the PC. The clearest suggestion raised by the PC members is that more education of and instructions to authors and reviewers is needed. I think that this will partly happen by itself if this will become the default, but the CFP may need to be revised as well. In particular, we phrased some recommendations to the authors and future PCs may consider turning them into instructions.

Some quotes on the reviewers’ dilemmas and education:

One of the PC members that were least happy, was mainly upset with two very long (50+ pages) badly written paper out of the close to 40 assigned. Usually one would just reject these papers for presentation but:

I would say that I doubt if such papers would be any easier to review with the page limit (as the 10 pages would still not explain the main ideas and one would have to look into the very long appendix).

Regarding the PC experience there were many different sentiments:

Two other points that were raised: