Summary Report of the General Chair HLT/NAACL 2004 Julia Hirschberg June 2004 High Points: ∑ Conference registration numbers are good. ∑ We chose three chairs for each sub-chair position, one each from NLP, IR, and the Speech community. This worked extremely well, since there was always backup when someone was traveling, and it spread the workload out. I think it also gave more people a sense of involvement in the conference; e.g., 21 of the 27 chairs are attending the conference. All of the groups did first-rate jobs. Christy and I are having a thank-you lunch to show our appreciation on Monday. ∑ The paper submission and selection process went relatively smoothly and the PC chairs and area chairs all recommend the Start review software they used to other ACL conferences. Long paper decisions were made in a face-to-face meeting and short paper/poster decisions on a conference call. The PC chairs chose area chairs who had expertise in multiple areas, to provide flexibility in case submissions did not follow the previous year’s pattern, and this worked well in general. The PC chairs and Area chairs decided to give a best paper award; in consultation with the NAACL board, we decided to do this, although this decision need not bind future PC committees. 43 of 168 full paper submissions were accepted (26%), and 40 of 84 short papers (48%). While it was difficult to count the submissions by broad area, the PCs best effort at doing this (which counts some papers in multiple categories) indicates that, for Long Papers, 129 were in NLP, 53 in IR, and 33 in Speech; for Short Papers, 47 were in NLP, 28 in IR, and 27 in Speech. ∑ Student Workshop: We did receive NSF funding ($20,164) this year to support the workshop, thanks to the efforts of the Faculty Advisors to the workshop. One issue here is international students, since NSF is better able to support U.S. students from U.S.; however, other options for support are available for foreign students, and future Advisors should explore them. We also decided to hold the workshop during the tutorial day, so that there would be less competition from parallel paper sessions. Finally, we decided to hold a student evening party instead of a lunch; IBM agreed to sponsor. ∑ Tutorials: We settled on six, 2 in each of our theme areas, IR, NLP, Speech. As of the end of pre-registration, two workshops (one NLP and one Speech/IR) had rather low enrollments (12 and 8) but the rest were doing fine. We decided not to cancel any assuming we would get walk-ins in Boston. ∑ Workshops: We received 11 proposals and accepted 10. As of 26 April, registration ranges from 19 (WS7 on Speech Indexing and Retrieval) to 60 (WS8 on Linking Biological Literature, Ontologies and DBs). ∑ Demos: There were 22 submissions of which 19 were accepted. The demo chairs solicited other demos as well, but few of these solicited proposals resulted in demos. We decided on a demo plenary session with 2 demos for presentation plus overviews of the rest by the demo co-chairs. The actual demos will be given (in parallel) during the remainder of the session. ∑ Sponsorships: We contacted 48 organizations and 8 publishers. Of these, we received $25,000 from 10 sponsors/exhibitors, most at the ‘Bronze’ ($1,000) level. We allowed Bronze sponsors free exhibit space on a one-time basis to get more exhibits. Not many publishers (only ACM and MIT Press) wanted to exhibit this time. Low Points/Suggestions: ∑ Overall: It was not always clear whom to ask and who had the final say when we wanted to innovate or to find out standard practice where this was not specified in the ACL Conference Handbook. It would be good to clarify whether the NAACL Exec or the HLT conference board (or the ACL exec) should be contacted for different matters, or to specify which contact person in each the General Chair should deal with. This was particularly an issue wrt the Best Paper Award issue, the naming of Area Chairs (the PC chairs wanted to call them Senior Program Committee members), policies on co-located workshops (e.g. SigDial), and many budget issues. We got lots of help from lots of people, but if experts and designated contact people could be specified in advance, it would be helpful. ∑ Budget and fees: Over the years, responsibility for preparing the conference budget and setting fees has been shared among the various conference chairs and the treasurer of the ACL or chapter. This needs to be clarified in the ACL Conference handbook. ∑ Tax-exempt payments: A section should be added to the handbook about the desirability of handling payments for the conference through some tax-exempt organization. Christy and I had assumed that ACL was tax exempt and so originally were not budgeting for tax; we are now hopefully getting Mitre to handle payments since they are tax-exempt in Massachusetts. ∑ Registration: Holding the conference in early May may have lessened the number of students who could attend. However, there were problems getting a good hotel later. It is possible that this is a reason for the low submissions to the Student Workshop. However, despite considerable efforts to advertise and encourage submissions, only 12 (9 NLP and 3 IR or Speech) papers were submitted, out of which 10 (7 NLP; 3 other) were accepted. This is a problem. ∑ Website: ACL needs to move its website to a commercial hosting service; this was a problem when we started registration. In general, the conference handbook needs to be clarified about all web issues wrt conferences. In addition, I would recommend that any workshop that wants internet access should be able to get it, without paying for it itself. This is 21st century J. ∑ Co-located but non-ACL-run workshops: ACL and NAACL have developed certain practices over the years in dealing with co-located workshops. It would be very helpful to have the sections in the conference handbook updated to reflect these and that future general chairs follow them strictly. Future conferences should offer to workshops two choices: either the workshop conforms completely to ACL workshop guidelines or it is completely on its own. In addition, it would be useful to make liaison with such conferences part of the Workshop Chair’s duties. There is too much duplication of effort otherwise. This would require a change to the Handbook. ∑ Publications: Things went pretty smoothly despite several last minute changes, one workshop getting its proceedings in very very very late, and Omnipress mis-numbering the Companion volume (they reprinted the TOC to match their numbering to fix this). The Publications Chairs handled all this extremely calmly. If others have similar problems, perhaps future conferences might want to find another press? Also, the publications software we now use needs better documentation in order to take advantage of some of its features. This should be an action item on perhaps for the NAACL exec.