Phil Lew, Program Chair for PNSQC 2021, shares his insight into the planning for this year’s conference.
Starting From Scratch?
While asking for input and feedback on the 2021 tracks, I started to rethink from scratch. What is the purpose of having tracks during a conference? I came up with three reasons:
- To help potential authors and speakers at PNSQC figure out where they can contribute.
- To help the Program Committee schedule a track in a temporal vertical sense so that an attendee can follow the “Automation track” for example, and not be torn between two simultaneous automation talks.
- To assign reviewers. Since we want experts to evaluate and assess each paper, it is easier for someone to say “I want to review all the automation abstracts since I have expertise in that area.” As a reviewer, I can quickly see which papers I’d be interested in and qualified to review.
Back on Track
Reason #1 is perhaps the biggest reason to have tracks. We certainly want to list out topic areas and sub-topics to inspire potential authors. Organizing by tracks helps them to quickly go to a track and a subtopic and figure out where they can make a contribution.
Reason #2 is perhaps an incorrect assumption. While some attendees only want to attend an “automation track”, they may be in the minority, and could be served better with a broader track that included automation versus a specific automation track.
Item #3 is easily handled by our Open Conference submission process. Both the selection and review teams can see which papers to advocate for, both at the selection process and in the review stages. The categories help if they want to filter or sort, but in general most of the selection team are not so narrowly focused that they are only qualified for a specific topic. Regardless of the “official” track that the paper was submitted to, the reviewers often look across many tracks.
Simpler and Better
Because of this, PNSQC has decided to simplify the conference to three broader tracks. Our hope is that by reducing the number of tracks, this not only enables potential authors and speakers to quickly find where to contribute, but also adds the possibility of increasing the depth and breadth of content in the conference. If you can’t find an area where you think your ideas will fit, please let us know!
We’ve also revised our thoughts on technical papers, technical briefs, and poster papers. Since many of our papers are not really “technical” and don’t necessarily detail code or ground-breaking patents, we’ve decided to remove the word technical from our Call for Proposals. If you submit an abstract and are selected to write a paper, it will be called a Conference Paper rather than a technical paper.
Last year we tried Technical Briefs — a reduced-length paper coupled with a presentation. These will now be called Conference Presentations. You will still go through a selection process similar to a Conference Paper, write an extended abstract, and submit your presentation to the Review Committee prior to the conference, but alas, you won’t have to write a paper.
Finally, we come to Poster Papers. We’ve always thought of them as a way to encourage authors who are new to formally presenting and writing their ideas. At a physical conference, presenters would have a 24”x 36” poster showing their concepts and ideas. A time would be scheduled for presenters to informally chat with conference attendees during the conference. Since 2020 was the first virtual conference, we decided to omit Poster Papers. This year, we’re bringing them back.
Rather than an actual poster, we’re encouraging Poster Paper authors to have an electronic presentation of some kind and to use their creativity in presenting their ideas in any way, shape or form that they desire. Poster Paper authors will be able to work with a PNSQC volunteer to develop their poster and presentation ideas to make it valuable for the author as well as our community.
At PNSQC we’re dedicated to serving our community in providing an encouraging environment for professional growth and knowledge exchange. We’re not afraid to try new things and morph in order to do that in our changing times. Don’t be afraid to give us feedback because that’s what we need to serve the community better.
Hopefully you are now inspired to submit an abstract to PNSQC’s Call for Proposals. I encourage you to “Go for it!” The Call is open through April 15, 2021. I look forward to seeing your proposal.