SIGSOFT Policy on Program Committees

This document contains information regarding:

Program Committee Members

The program committee is responsible for objectively and thoroughly reviewing all submissions, for submitting timely, informative reviews that provide authors with feedback about their submissions, and for attending the program committee meetings.

The program committee members should be recognized experts in the subject area of the event. For recurring events, at least one-third of the program committee membership should change. Most program committee members should not serve for more than three consecutive terms and in no instance should an individual serve more than four consecutive terms.

Reviewing Submissions

Submissions should be reviewed by the program committee members themselves, rather than by their chosen delegates, so that the submissions can be discussed by knowledgeable reviewers during the program committee meeting. Program committee members can seek expert advice from external reviewers, if they so desire, but they are still responsible for having reviewed the submission themselves. Each submission should be reviewed by at least three program committee members and there should be an opportunity given to discuss each submission at the program committee meeting. Usually those submissions that have received very poor reviews or very strong reviews can be discussed only briefly, but an open discussion provides other committee members who might be familiar with the work an opportunity to contribute useful information that might affect the outcome of the review process. If consensus can not be formed or there are additional concerns raised about a submission, additional information or reviews should be obtained.

Any restrictions on submissions by program committee members must be clearly conveyed by the Program Chair as part of the invitation to join the committee. It is important that the program committee consider all submissions fairly. Therefore, if program committee members are allowed to make submissions, care must be taken that they are reviewed at least as stringently as other submissions.

Submissions from Organizing Committee Members

For conferences and symposia, the General Chair and Program Chair of the event may not submit to any track of the event. This restriction also extends to the General Chair's and Program Chair's directly supervised students. This restriction does not apply to workshops and collocated events. All other members of the Organizing Committee and their directly supervised students may submit to any track other than the track they are chairing. Directly-supervised students are defined as only those students who are conducting their research under the primary guidance of the General Chair or Program Chair, and not those students who must have the General Chair or Program Chair as their diploma/thesis/dissertation chair of record due to university, state, province, or national rules, but are primarily advised by other (e.g., more junior) professors.

Conflicts of Interest and Confidentiality of Submissions

SIGSOFT requires members of the program committees of its events to adhere to the highest of ethical standards. Program committee chairs must ensure that these standards are not only met to the letter of the policy but also to the spirit of its intent. This means that even the appearance of a conflict of interest or breach of confidentiality in the selection process should be avoided.

A program committee member (including the chair of the committee) is considered to have a conflict of interest on a submission that has an author in any of the following categories:

  1. the person themselves;
  2. a past or current student or academic advisor;
  3. a supervisor or employee in the same line of authority within the past three years;
  4. a member of the same organization (e.g., company, university, government agency, etc.) within the past three years;
  5. a co-author of a paper appearing in publication within the past three years;
  6. someone with whom there has been a financial relationship (e.g., grants, contracts, consultancies, equity investments, stock options, etc.) within the past three years;
  7. someone with whom acceptance or rejection would further the personal goals of the reviewer (e.g., a competitor);
  8. a member of the same family or anyone considered a close personal friend; or
  9. someone about whom, for whatever reason, their work cannot be evaluated objectively.

Committee members must declare their conflicts to the program chair before any discussions of the submissions begin.

Committee members in conflict with an author will not be allowed to see the reviews of the submission, nor will the names of the reviewers be divulged. During any and all discussions of the submission (e.g., at the program committee meeting, during pre-meeting email discussions, etc.), the member in conflict will be barred from participating in any way either actively or passively (e.g., by absenting themselves from the room in which the discussion is being held, not being a recipient of email, etc.).

In case the program chair is in conflict, the chair will assign an alternate chair for any submissions for which they have a conflict. For those submissions, the alternate chair will select the reviewers and will chair the discussion of the submission in the program chair's absence. As a concession to practicality in the mechanics of organizing and reporting the results of the review process, the program chair is permitted to view all reviews for all submissions, including those with which they have a conflict. Nevertheless, the program chair must maintain the confidentiality of those reviews.

The discussions conducted by a program committee during the selection process are considered to be confidential.

This conflict of interest and confidentiality policy extends to any supplemental reviewers outside of the immediate program committee, if such reviewers are permitted by the procedures of the committee. The committee member seeking the supplemental review is responsible for ensuring the enforcement of the policy.

The program chair will make reasonable efforts to ensure that the manuscripts submitted are made available to and reviewed only by the program committee and supplemental reviewers acting on behalf of the program committee. Neither SIGSOFT nor ACM guarantee the confidentiality of the submitted manuscripts, and accept no liability in the event that the manuscripts are distributed beyond the reviewers.

Awards and Special Issues of Journals

Program committees should present the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award to an appropriate subset of the accepted submissions; rules and details of the award are available here. This benefits both the authors and the conference by raising visibility in the broader community. Distinguished papers should also be considered for expedited review and publication in an ACM journal, such as Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM), or in any other suitable journal. Again, this has the benefit of raising the visibility of the conference. Program chairs should seek prior approval directly from the Editor in Chief of the selected publication. Distinguished paper awards and expedited journal publication should be noted in the call to make submission more appealing to authors.

Calls for Submissions/Participation:

Conferences should require full-length, original papers for review. Experience shows that acceptance decisions based solely on abstracts provide too much opportunity for surprises in the final paper. Calls for papers should include explicit prohibitions against the submission of papers that have been previously published or are being submitted elsewhere. Workshops with limited attendance should require participants to submit statements describing their interests or experiences so that invitations are based on some objective measure. Statements might be in the form of position papers, abstracts, or full-length, original papers.

All calls should encourage students to participate in the event. Information should be included about the Conference Attendance Program (CAPS), which provides scholarships for students to help defray the cost of attending events, especially if they have an accepted paper at a conference.

In addition, all calls should make authors aware of the ACM Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism. Authors must be asked to indicate their understanding and acceptance of the policy and procedures at the time of submission. This can normally be done as part of the electronic submission process, such as through a checkbox that must be checked in order for the submission to be recorded.