Friday, December 07, 2007

VLDB dogfight, and peer review

I guess this had to happen sooner or later, given how easy it is to publish a critique. I'm only surprised that more people aren't doing it.

Via Daniel Lemire comes a link to a page by John Wu where he rakes a VLDB 2006 paper over the coals and doing so, mounts a serious criticism of the review process that led to the paper being accepted. I don't have a dog in this fight, and know next to nothing about the area, but the criticisms are prima facie plausible, even if mitigated by the fact that he's the "injured party" in this argument. One idea that he proposes, and that Daniel endorses, is this:
Our first recommendation is for the program committee to assign one member to be responsible for a paper. To encourage committee members to take this responsibility seriously, the accepted paper should be printed with the name of the responsible person. Many journal articles are printed with a footnote to the effect of “Accepted on the recommendation of So-and-So.” Similar footnote could be printed on the final copy of the conference proceedings.
It's an interesting idea. I've heard this being proposed before, and apart from the fact that papers can often slip in without strong champions, I don't see too much that's wrong with it.

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