Programming Journal: Call for Essays

The Art, Science, and Engineering of Programming journal is teaming up with the Onward! conference regarding essays. In this year’s Onward! Essays’ Instructions for Authors, authors are given the choice of publication venue. They can either do it as before — i.e. publish the essay in the Onward! proceedings book, published by the ACM; or they can submit the essay to a special issue of the Programming Journal, and present it at the Onward! conference. The submission deadline for this special issue is April 23, 2018, and the issue is scheduled to be published in September, 2018.

In other words, the live event Onward! will feature oral presentations of essays from two publications: an ACM conference proceedings monograph and a special issue of the Programming Journal.

Why this?

Essays have always been on the radar for this Journal. Good essays about programming are extremely interesting to read, so we are now calling for them explicitly. But instead of competing with the Onward! conference, we are teaming up with it. From the point of view of authors, if prospective authors work in institutions where the classification of “journal” vs. “conference” is important, they now have this option of submitting the essay to the Programming Journal. If the distinction is not important, publishing the essay in the Onward! conference proceedings is the default option. Additionally, there are some differences regarding the license of the papers. Here are the details:

  • In both cases, the reviewers are the same, and the review process is the same. The review process of these papers has always been journal-like, anyway. The Program Chair of Onward! Essays, Richard Gabriel, is a Guest Editor of the Programming Journal for this special issue.
  • The live presentation of these papers will happen at SPLASH/Onward! 2018, not at the <Programming> Conference that is associated, by default, with this journal. This  really stresses the point that the journal is the publication venue, while conferences (one or more) are live events where the work is presented orally.
  • Essays published in the special issue of the Programming Journal fall under the license and copyright agreements of the journal, i.e. gold open access, free of charge, archival in arXiv. Essays published in the conference proceedings fall under the auspices of the ACM Digital Library, which has its own benefits and disadvantages.

The Programming Journal is committed to trying out arrangements like this with little overhead for community organizers. We apply some filtering, though, because it is clear that not all conferences benefit from publishing journal-like papers. For papers whose main goal is to showcase the idea at the conference, the value of a journal-like review process is questionable; it may even be detrimental. In this case, we decided to partner with Onward! Essays, but not with Onward! Papers, as a whole, because it would negatively affect the nature of that conference. Future arrangements with other conferences will go through the same criteria: do the papers really benefit from going through a journal review process or is it better for the conference to be a bit more lose? In this transition period that we are all going through of reclassifying CS publications, this is a question that event organizers need to think through carefully: one size does not fit all.

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