Kindness and respectfulness goes a long way
We just finished the CHI2021 PC meeting which took place starting Wednesday evening, December 9th with an introductory plenary and continuing until Saturday evening, December 12th. During these days 460+ HCI researchers divided into 21 subcommittees came together on zoom links to discuss the research contributions of nearly 3000 submitted papers in relation to nearly 12000 reviews made by committee members and external researchers.
The PC meeting is the culmination of one full year of preparation, by Paper Chairs (PCs), Subcommittee Chairs (SCs), Associate Chairs (ACs), Reviewers, Technical Program Chairs (TPCs), Publications Chairs, Accessibility Chairs, and Student assistants, who are dedicated to creating the best possible conditions for fair treatment of all submitted papers and their authors. These people are volunteering their time and effort to serve the CHI community.
We are all authors, and we all want our work to be appreciated and accepted - and nobody enjoys reading critical reviews of our work, which we, ourselves, are excited about. This is why we are constantly trying to improve the language and tone of reviewers - and our ideal is that reviews are always constructive, respectful, actionable, and kind (read blogpost on reviews).
Unfortunately, we as Papers Chairs for CHI2021 also encountered situations where authors write emails or rebuttals, which had the underlying assumption that their paper was being treated unfairly. In addition, these were often written using problematic, accusatory language. Maybe this has been exacerbated by the current conditions with the global pandemic, but really, there are no excuses.
We, therefore, would ask and encourage authors to take the same advice that we give to reviewers: Be kind and respectful. Write your rebuttal and emails as if the volunteer serving the community is sitting in front of you - and please know that everybody is trying their best to ensure fair treatment of your paper.
Anyone with legitimate concerns about the qualities of a review or the intentions of a reviewer should naturally follow up with discussions with the SCs or PCs. When doing so, it helps to approach the conversation constructively. Also, going directly to social media tends to inflame these situations rather than address them.
Please help us by thanking everybody who spent their time serving the community and allowing us to have an amazing program for CHI2021. THANK YOU!!
CHI2021 Paper Co-chair team
Steven and Pernille
Claudine and Earl