Diagrams Conference Ethos and Organisation

The Diagrams conference is the only united forum for researchers interested in any aspect of diagrams research. The ethos of the conference is that in order to use and understand diagrams to best effect, there is a need to draw on expertise from many different subject areas. This ethos is embodied in a number of key organisational aspects. The Steering Committee recognises the need pass this on to the Diagrams organising team in order to ensure that the ethos is embodied in the running of the conference. The purpose of this document is to do just that.

As well as long papers, short papers and poster presentations, traditionally the conference has included (short) tutorials as part of the main conference program. The conference now also includes the option of submitting abstracts, in line with conferences in many disciplines. This is seen as key to enabling those from different disciplines to access and take-up results from complementary areas, thus fitting with the ethos of the conference.

The conference has grown to include workshops, tutorials and a graduate symposium. The workshops and the Graduate Symposium are recognised as a core mechanism for ensuring the long-term success of the conference, engaging and supporting young researchers and providing added publicity and exposure to those less familiar with the field. Thus, every effort should be made to ensure that workshops and the Graduate Symposium run at the conference. The Steering Committee encourages the organisers to archive the Graduate Symposium proceedings on the Diagrams Conference web site.

The Steering Committee also recognises the need to be inclusive of researchers from around the world. This is, in part, enabled by the geographic location of the conference moving around the globe (mostly between the USA and Europe). Such inclusion can also be reflected in the organising team and through program committee memberships.

Main Organisational Roles

The Diagrams Conference typically has several main chairs (from 2020, this is expected to include a General Chair, a Senior Program Chair and a Program Chair for each track) along with a Graduate Symposium Chair, a Workshop/Tutorials Chair, Proceedings Chair and a Local Chair, if that role is not being undertaken by the General Chair. These organisers are responsible for the delivery of the conference and are expected to work closely with the Steering Committee on all key organisational decisions. Such key decisions include:

  • dates and location of the conference (usually these would form part of a proposal to organise Diagrams),
  • choice of co-located conferences (if any),
  • choice of keynote speakers,
  • significant changes to the topics of interest listed in the call for papers,
  • important dates, and
  • program committee membership.

The Steering Committee has the following expectations of main chairs, though the organising team may re-distribute these tasks as they see fit; this is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

General Chair

Ultimately, the General Chair undertakes the following roles.

  • Overall Responsibility: responsible, overall, for delivering the conference and coordinating the efforts of the organising team.
  • Appointment of other Chairs: responsible for recruiting suitable researchers to other chairing roles. Whilst it is normally expected that the Program co-Chairs will be in place when the Steering Committee agrees the conference organising team, other roles should be filled.
  • Financial Considerations: expected to take full responsibility for the financial arrangements, all local organisation (unless devolved to a Local Chair) and obtaining sponsorship. The Organising team are expected to make a timely application for NSF and Cognitive Science Society sponsorship and to look for other sources of support. (Sources of sponsorship include: the National Science Foundation, the Cognitive Science Society, the chairs’ host institutions, and industry. Note that recent conferences have had NSF funding for PhD students to attend the Graduate Symposium, which the organisers should attempt to maintain. In addition, the Cognitive Science Society has a history of sponsoring the Best Student Paper Award; there is an annual deadline for applying.) The Steering Committee emphases that participation costs should be kept low to enable wider participation. The conference is a not-for-profit venture, although there is a responsibility to maintain a reasonable surplus wherever possible, since this acts as underwriting for the conference.
  • Accommodation for Delegates: expected to arrange local accommodation options (unless devolved to a Local Chair) for delegates to allow for informal networking and community building; this could include negotiating a block-booking deal with the conference venue.
  • Keynotes: takes charge of inviting keynote speakers (together with the Program Chairs).
  • Post-Conference Reporting: Expected to provide a report on the running of the conference to the Steering Committee and to provide an accounts summary and balance report within four months of the conference.
  • Hand-Over: to arrange for the surplus (if any) to be transferred in a timely fashion to the next General Chair and to assist them during any transition phase.

Program Chairs

The Senior Program Chair should be supported by one Program Chair for each track (including the main track).

The Senior Program Chair should be knowledgeable of how the Diagrams conference is organised. They should take the role of Super Chair in the review management system used. The Senior Program Chair should be encouraged not to submit a paper or abstract to the main conference due to potential conflict of interest. It is expected that the Senior Program Chair should be the only one who receives emails from the review management system used, in part to protect confidentiality and to ensure clear responsibility for replying to queries. The Senior Program Chair should act as a second Program Chair for all tracks and coordinate all stages of the process across tracks and take overall responsibility for accept/reject decisions and the acceptance rate for the conference as a whole.

For the special themes, the Program Chair for that track should be someone well-known in that community in order to assist the publicity, attract submissions, and manage disciplinary differences.

The Senior Program Chair takes the following responsibilities:

  • Important Dates: required to set all important dates relating to paper submission and review, and asked to gain input from the Steering Committee on these dates (paper submission etc.) to ensure that sufficient time is allotted to each stage of the process and that there are no or few clashes with competing conferences.
  • Paper Submission Categories: they are required to be mindful of why Diagrams has multiple submission categories: long (15 pages), short (7 pages), poster (4 pages) and abstracts (3 pages); each of these categories is important to the conference and the page limits assigned to them reflect the relative need for the submission to include diagrams, to be written with both technical depth (for experts) and in an accessible form. Moreover, these different categories and page limits account for the different fields represented at Diagrams and their different publication practice. Long papers are the mechanism intended for publishing diagrams research of significant quality. Short papers allow for the presentation of contributions that do not warrant a full paper. Posters support the inclusion and development of more junior researchers, allow greater participation in the conference, and permit the presentation of ideas that may have been published in other discipline-specific outlets yet which are of interest and importance to the Diagrams community. Abstracts reflect the fact that the Steering Committee recognises that in some subject areas the publication in Diagrams proceedings precludes the publication of a journal paper and, in these areas, only the journal paper contributes to researcher esteem. Their role is to form basis for deciding whether to invite the author to give a presentation at the conference.
  • Reviewing Guidance: responsible for ensuring that the Program Committee members on all tracks receive consistent and suitable guidance on what is expected of them during the review process and to advise them as to what constitutes a quality review. Such guidance can be found below.
  • Acceptance Decisions: they are responsible for the final accept and reject decisions across all tracks. For long papers, the acceptance rate should not exceed 33% without consultation with the Steering Committee. Papers may be accepted in a different category to which they are submitted (e.g. long papers as short papers or posters).
  • Publication of Proceedings: responsible for liaising with the Proceedings Chair to ensure that the proceedings are published. The Proceedings Chair has responsibility for liaising with Springer, to gain agreement for the publication of the proceedings and to meet Springer’s requirements such as with regard to publication timescales (e.g. lead time for publishing and delivering the proceedings to the conference). If there is no Proceedings Chair then the Senior Program Chair is expected to undertake this role.
  • Informal Publication of Abstracts: to ensure that the abstracts, none of which are to be included in the Springer proceedings, are distributed in hard copy at the conference.
  • Program: responsible for organising the papers into suitable sessions at the conference and inviting session chairs. It must be ensured that the accepted papers, together with the keynote speakers and tutorials, fit within the time constraints of the conference and form a balanced program that will appeal to potential delegates.
  • Best Paper Awards: responsible for choosing the Best Paper and Best Student Paper and presenting the awards (possibly with the General Chair) during the conference and they may decide to seek input from the Steering Committee if necessary; it is important for the Diagrams community to acknowledge outstanding work.
  • Post-Conference Reporting: expected to provide a report to the Steering Committee on the program-related aspects of the conference organisation.
  • Hand-Over: to provide feedback to the next Program Chairs and to assist them during any transition phase.

The Program Chair for each track and the Senior Program Chair have responsibility for all aspects associated with the conference program for their track, other than sending out Keynote invitations. They are:

  • Program Committee Experience: expected to ensure the maintenance, on the Program Committee, of a balance of leading experts, up and coming researchers, and experts perhaps less central to previously existing themes of the conference; in this latter case, the rationale is expected to include a requirement to diversify or re-direct topics of interest for the conference, which will necessarily involve discussions with the Steering Committee.
  • Program Committee Expertise: ensure that all topics of interest have adequate representation on the Program Committee.
  • Program Committee Invitations: invite people to join the Program Committee. the Steering Committee’s advice and feedback should be sought on a proposed Program Committee before invitations are made.
  • Reviewing Process: responsible for the all aspects of the reviewing process. The Steering Committee expects the Diagrams reviewing process to reflect the philosophy of the conference. In particular, the Program co-Chairs should aim to ensure that each paper has (at least) three reviewers, two of whom are experts on the paper’s subject material and one is an expert from a different area. To manage the review process effectively, the Program co-Chairs are encouraged to provide the Program Committee with regular reports on the percentage of reviews completed by individual reviewers and the overall percentage, to encourage good practice. The Program Committee members must be reminded that if they appoint sub-reviewers then they still have responsibility for the review and accept/reject recommendation.
  • Rebuttal Period: The Steering Committee recognises the importance of including a rebuttal phase in the review period, and the reviewing time period must accommodate an author response period and a post-rebuttal Program Committee discussion phase, before final decisions are made.
  • Acceptance Decisions: expected to make preliminary decisions regarding the acceptance and rejection of papers. The Program Chairs are asked to recall that Diagrams papers should provide a rigorously executed contribution to the theory and/or application of diagrams. Accepted publications should normally be written in such a way that that the main ideas are accessible to non-experts, yet detailed enough so that experts can assess the robustness and contribution to knowledge. Of note is that a technically complex paper should not necessarily be rejected solely on the grounds of being less accessible – research quality should be a driving factor determining paper acceptance.
  • Post-Conference Reporting: expected to support the Senior Program Chair with providing a report to the Steering Committee on the program-related aspects of the conference organisation.
  • Hand-Over: to provide feedback to the next Program Chairs and to assist them during any transition phase.

It is expected that any communication with the Program Committees in relation to the above and that is not track specific is handled by the Senior Program Chair for the purposes of consistency.

Reviewing Guidelines

Papers Program Committee members should be advised that their review must contain a detailed rationale for their overall recommendation. When reaching a recommendation, the reviewer should consider whether the paper is in scope and whether it makes a significant contribution to knowledge. Research contribution should be the primary driver for the overall recommendation.

In addition, Diagrams papers should make attempts to explain the core contributions to non-specialists, reflecting the multi-disciplinary nature of the conference. Papers should not be rejected solely on the grounds of being inaccessible to non-experts, but the review should make it clear whether (and how) the presentation needs to be improved should the paper be accepted.

Paper authors should be able to clearly see the reasons for an accept/reject decision from the written content of the review.

Posters Reviews for posters should contain similar explanation for the decision being reached. However, it is recognised that poster submissions are not expected to make significant contributions to knowledge in order to be acceptable. They should be within the scope of the conference and say something of interest to Diagrams delegates. They are an excellent way of allowing more junior researchers to take part in the conference, and for ideas not yet sufficiently formed for a full or short paper to be presented.

Abstracts Acceptance mechanisms for abstracts should follow the practice of subject domains that have abstracts as the main submission mechanism for their conferences. Decisions should reflect the need for a wide variety of subject matter presented at Diagrams, as well as the track record of the author. The rejection or acceptance of abstracts should take into account the primary reasons for an abstract submission track which is to encourage wide discussion between those in different subject areas and to encourage submission from subject areas that would otherwise be poorly represented at Diagrams.

02 October 2018