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Communications of the ACM


The Pros and Cons of the 'PACM' Proposal: Counterpoint

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The Pros and Cons of the 'PACM' Proposal, illustration


ACM has been a longtime leader and innovator in the ecosystem of computing publications. ACM produces journals and proceedings of the highest quality, and it continually finds ways to address the publishing needs and concerns of the computing research community, most recently with its innovative Author Rights framework. It is therefore with no small amount of trepidation that I write to argue against the creation of a new proceedings-focused journal series.

In their editorial, Konstan and Davidson identify two fundamental problems motivating the need for a new journal series. First, the merit and funding systems of some countries do not accord conference publications the status they deserve. Second, conference publication has hard deadlines, page limits and limited review, and it exhausts the reviewing capacity of the best researchers. I concede these problems exist to some extent. I also concede the proposed journal series, by virtue of being journals, might help circumvent some of the problems. However, I feel the proposed journal series fails to attack the root causes of these problems.


R Oldehoeft

As a department chair I was able to educate a Dean of Natural Sciences about the quality of CS conference publications, widely adopted software distributions, and the ways that CS research differs from work in other sciences. It can be done.

However, the proliferation of low-quality conferences threatens to pollute the status of CS conference publication. At the least, ACM might maintain a list of conferences that meet (still to be developed) criteria as being worthy for the purposes of evaluating conference publications. But do not tie that to ACM's involvement in a conference--I have seen that contribute inordinately to the workload of conference organizers.

Rod Oldehoeft
Emeritus Chair and Professor
Computer Science Department
Colorado State University

Shriram Krishnamurthi

Preach it, brother!

The one major point I wish you had made more strongly is that our journals have a genuinely different (and better) review model than our conferences, and if we equate the two, we will not "average" them or anything else: we'll simply have conference-quality reviews (and I definitely mean to put scare-quotes around the word quality).

I think there are three convergent streams here:

1. People who genuinely care about people who're stuck in what I can only term as "dumb" countries (because they're needlessly hurting their own scientists and science).

2. People who genuinely believe journals are no better, maybe even a bit worse, and anyway not really different, from conferences. I suspect many of them haven't written (or read) a true journal paper in a very long while.

3. People who're cynical and using these other reasons on the surface to get rid of what they see as a nuisance.

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