[Air-L] Let's talk about AoIR.

Nicole Ellison enicole at umich.edu
Sat Jun 1 14:07:20 PDT 2013

Hi again,

I know this thread is nearing its end (and the end of some people's
patience, no doubt), but I wanted to address Ruth's excellent question to
me about the impression that I was suggesting only completed papers (with
data/findings) should be submitted/accepted (which was not the case but I
can see why my note gave that impression). I think we should work to raise
the perceived and actual quality of the conference, I think AOIR should
work to be inclusive, and I think there should be formats that support work
in progress, discussion-oriented, and "feedback  wanted'  submissions. I
think these are all related.

I think Sarah made an excellent point when she wrote: "We're an
interdisciplinary organization, and if we want to have an interdiscipinary
conference we need to try and find a way to accommodate the disciplinary
needs of members. That way people can "fit" AoIR into what they need to be
doing for tenure, promotion, travel funds, etc." This is why, for instance,
ICWSM (which I am co-chairing this year) offered a "social science track"
where people could withhold their papers from the printed proceedings
(which don't often "count" for tenure decisions) in order to publish them
in journals. We tried to recognize that different fields have different
criteria, and to allow social science researchers a way to participate that
wouldn't cost them a publication.

I believe raising the perceived quality of the conference, making quality
more uniform among the presented papers, and offering the ability to submit
full, finished papers will increase the inclusivity of the conference,
because more people will be able to participate. In my case, for example,
as a pre-tenure prof in an R1 institution, AOIR papers did not "count" and
thus it was not feasible for me to attend the conference regularly. Too
much out-of-pocket money, time away from other projects and my young
children, opportunity costs I didn't feel I could afford. I'm sorry if all
this talk about counting and tenure decisions is distasteful, and I'm sure
this isn't the case for everyone, but I honestly didn't feel like attending
was in my best interests given my career goals -- and that's pretty sad,
because this conference is far more up my alley in terms of interests and
people I adore (like Terri) than others I did attend. I imagine there are
others in the same boat, and that these are people whose presence would
enrich the conference.

My sense is that longer submissions and papers about research that has
already been conducted offer are a far better signal about quality than
abstracts about studies that haven't been conducted yet. So if we believe
that better assessment techniques will lead to better papers being accepted
will lead to higher regard in multiple disciplines, having a format for
this type of work seems like a good strategy.

Regarding work in progress or late-breaking ideas or work that will be
completed between submission & conference (which I do think should be part
of the conference), there are other conferences we could look for for ideas:

- CHI has a work in progress track:

- ICA has workshops, where smaller groups get together to discuss ideas
around a common topic of interest, and panels, where shorter abstracts are
submitted (which are often work that isn't quite ready to write up at that

- CSCW allows variable paper lengths, with the idea that the contribution
should match the length

- ICWSM and CHI offer shorter paper options, such as notes or posters, as
well as workshops and tutorials

Hope this clears things up a bit. I am also, like others, happy to do more
for the organization now that I'm no longer pre-tenure and my kids are a
little older. I'm hoping to come to Denver, which I know will be great. I
know first-hand how much work and emotional investment go into the paper
reviewing and selection process, so I also want to publicly acknowledge the
hard work of the organizers. Thanks, guys!

Thanks, Nicole

Nicole B. Ellison
Associate Professor
School of Information
University of Michigan

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