what to do with refereed conference proceedings?

In the recent days, we have had a lively discussion among AEs of the Annals of Statistics, as to whether or not set up a policy regarding publications of documents that have already been published in a shortened (8 pages) version in a machine learning conference like NIPS. Or AISTATS. While I obviously cannot disclose details here, the debate is quite interesting and may bring the machine learning and statistics communities closer if resolved in a certain way. My own and personal opinion on that matter is that what matters most is what’s best for Annals of Statistics rather than the authors’ tenure or the different standards in the machine learning community. If the submitted paper is based on a brilliant and novel idea that can appeal to a sufficiently wide part of the readership and if the maths support of that idea is strong enough, we should publish the paper. Whether or not an eight-page preliminary version has been previously published in a conference proceeding like NIPS does not seem particularly relevant to me, as I find those short papers mostly unreadable and hence do not read them. Since Annals of Statistics runs an anti-plagiarism software that is most likely efficient, blatant cases of duplications could be avoided. Of course, this does not solve all issues and papers with similar contents can and will end up being published. However, this is also the case for statistics journals and statistics, in the sense that brilliant ideas sometimes end up being split between two or three major journals.

5 Responses to “what to do with refereed conference proceedings?”

  1. Daniel Seita Says:

    Just out of curiosity, if someone like you finds NIPS papers “mostly unreadable,” then I’m wondering how graduate students like myself are supposed to understand them.

    • Ah! It may be that I getting old and with no patience whatsoever: the format of NIPS papers often means a lot is left out and has to be figured out by the (patient enough) reader. Being provided with a long version where enough is spelled out should be a requirement (and a service to referees and readers).

  2. Fabrizio Leisen Says:

    Assuming that AE’s know what are the readers’ interests… I’m not sure this is true :D

    • Thanks! I like the point that ” The central criterion for evaluation of the paper will be whether or not the paper is of interest to the journal’s readership.”

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