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Calling Out the 'Toxic Culture' of Computer Science


Illustration of a person reviewing a document through a magnifying glass.

"Looking at published conference papers in computer science as a measure of the quality of the candidate is flawed." -Edward Lee

Credit: Getty Images

Last month, the University of California, Berkeley's Edward Lee, a professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences, publicly shared a scathing review of the computer science (CS) conference-paper review process, which he had sent earlier to fellow judges. Program committee members who decide which papers are accepted are volunteers, members of the academic community who agree to spend hours of their time (theoretically) reading submissions, writing opinions, and voting on whether papers are worthy of the hallowed halls of whatever conference is in session.

But ever since conferences adopted a new review process that shields the names of judges, as well as papers' authors, critics say a new problem has arisen: Rejection notes are often so random, or just factually incorrect, that applicants suspect nobody actually read their paper. In an article, Lee talks about why he is chastising the community he has been a loyal member of for so long and what he thinks can be done to address the problem.

From Protocol
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