You think you’re being nice… and so they screw you over

Okay. I’m pissed off. I’m involved with a group that does a mock conference every year. It’s actually people writing about their real work, but the reviews are all done by students, it’s multidisciplinary, and the group that can submit is selective – which all come together to mean it doesn’t count as real “publishing” (thus mock).

Anyway, I’ve been on the programming committee for this conference before (as one of the co-chairs). And so I know how exhausting and frustrating a process it is to run it. It’s why I created a whole pdf document on how to run the conference – which settings to change when, what to do, what to expect, things that can go wrong. I wanted future chairs to be more informed and better situated, so they’d have an easier time running it.

I have no clue what happened to the document. I don’t know if it continues to get handed out. If it gets updated yearly. Or if some group decided it’s just not worth it and tossed it aside. All I know, is that all of the things that have been going wrong this week shouldn’t and wouldn’t if they’d read the document.

I’m an associate chair or area chair or whatever you want to call the position. What it means, is that I’m responsible for finding and encouraging people to review a subset of the papers. Then, I have to read these papers, and all the reviews, and try to put together a meta review. The “bonus” I get for doing this is really not worth it. But I continue to stupidly volunteer anyway. But, this is definitely my last year doing so.

First up, the programming committee failed to do their duty of actually checking to make sure papers fit the basic requirements (lengths and author names removed) before assigning. One third of the papers I’ve seen have failed this basic test. Second, the number of papers an AC is responsible for has skyrocketed – it use to be 5-6 (which was a ton of work) and now it’s 7 or 8 (and they want us to agree to review more papers just as a reviewer – I refused). Third, there appears to be no acceptance of responsibility by the program chair. Instead, they want to pass it all on to everyone else. I was actually told that for papers that don’t meet the requirements we should still write reviews and reject them through the normal process. The papers I identified as not meeting the criteria were “swapped” out. I have no idea who received the papers in the end (someone else who won’t point out that they shouldn’t even be in the pool? Or is someone else getting less work, because I’m being assigned some of their papers?). Fourth, the volunteer reviewers have been assigned up to 12 (TWELVE) papers to review, even though their agreement is to review three.

Anyway, if I could’ve come up with a diplomatic way to say “that’s it, I’m done, and I’m out” I would’ve done so. And trust me, I tried to think of a reason/excuse. Because this is crazy. And the timeline is super tight. Which means, while I’m suppose to finish getting my experiment ready (did I mention I got my ethics approval?), I have to deal with this crap instead. Sigh. It’s going to be a long few weeks.


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