Workshop chair duties

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Workshop Chair

Conference Handbook - Workshop Chair Duties

The Workshop Chair is responsible for collaborating with the workshop chairs for other ACL-affiliated conferences in the given year, in preparing and circulating the Call for Proposals, and in reviewing submissions.

Once the workshops for a given conference have been identified, the Workshop Chair is responsible for arranging dates, locations, refreshments, presentation and computer requirements, and all other special needs. It is essential that the workshop chair recognize the different kinds of workshops and understand the policies regarding each --- information regarding this can be found in Workshop overview and policies.

The call for workshop proposals should request that workshop organizers ask potential members of their proposed program committees to agree to serve, before submitting a workshop proposal. The call for proposals used at recent ACL conferences can be found at recent ACL calls for workshop proposals Before accepting a workshop proposal, the conference workshop chair should check with individual workshop chairs to make sure that the proposed members of the program committee have agreed to serve.

Large SIGs are expected to seek pre-approval for their workshops.

The workshops must be self-financing (at least); profits belong to ACL (an exception is for SIG workshops --- see ACL-policy-on-Sig-workshops).

Sample Calls for Papers for recent ACL workshops from can be found at [1] and [2].

Sample spreadsheets for collecting information about the requirements of different workshops and communicating them to the local organizers can be found at [3] and [4].


Step-by-step Guide for Workshop Chairs

The goal of this document is to describe in a chronological manner the tasks and responsibilities of workshop chairs for ACL/EMNLP/NAACL/EACL. While each workshop chair might have their idea of how to perform their duties, this is designed to help “automate” the overall tasks and reduce the overall time needed to perform this important task.

Initial Coordination (circa June)

  • Read this document, the ACL workshop chair handbook
  • Talk to Priscilla Rasmussen and last year’s workshop chairs to get some initial bearings.
  • Create a mailing list for all workshops chairs of the calendar year (two per conference). This can help researchers reach out to all workshop chairs and aid coordination between the different conferences of the year. Example: workshop-chairs-<year>@googlegroups.com
    • Note: sometimes EMNLP chairs are selected late and some of the initial coordination will be performed without them.
  • Obtain registration and attendance statistics from recent years (through Priscilla Rasmussen, Dragomir Radev and last year’s chairs). This helps estimate the size of a workshop, which is important when assigning workshops to venues. Venues have different capacities and so it is important to have large/medium/small workshops distributed across venues in a reasonable manner.
  • Find out the layout of the venue (how many rooms and their capacity). Usually there are about 8 rooms of varying sizes each day for the workshops

Call for proposals (July-September)

  • Write a call for workshop proposals jointly with all workshop chairs. Example call.
  • First call should go out around July, Second call around August, and final call in September. Submission deadline should be 6-8 months before the first conference of the year
  • It is advisable to mention in the call that workshops can be 2 days only if they have a large number (>100) of participants for two continuous years.
  • Set up a SoftConf START system through Rich Gerber or support. Tweak the submission interface to your liking.
  • Workshop organizers should make it clear what are their venue preferences and whether there are hard constraints (we will not hold the workshop if it is in venue X). This should be clear from the submission interface.

Workshop selection (October-November)

  • This is probably the most time-consuming period for the workshops chairs.
  • Large workshops are pre-admitted: *SEM, WMT, CoNLL, other workshops that will have more than 100 participants (SemEval). However, the chairs need to get their venue preferences for the year.
  • Traditionally, workshop selection was done by recruiting a program committee. In 2016-2017 about 60 workshops proposals were submitted, so this means that if each proposal receives 2 reviews and each committee member reviews 4 workshop proposals, a committee of 30 reviewers is needed. This is a process similar to choosing a conference program.
  • In 2017, we opted for a different methodology. The main reasons were
    • Criteria for workshop selection is vague and so having a large program committee reduces fairness
    • Rejection rate increased to ~40-50%
    • An important criterion is public interest and that is not gauged well in the current model.
  • Instead we performed the following changes:
    • Online survey: Hold an online survey among ACL members (get mailing list from Priscilla) asking them to indicate which workshops they would likely attend. This process also helps workshop organizers put up a website early and advertise the upcoming workshops to the ACL community.
    • After results of the survey are in, each workshop chair reviews ⅙ of the proposals and comments on them. Then a discussion among all workshops chairs and they jointly decide the selected workshops. Considerations include
    • Interest in the past
    • Interest according to online survey
    • Diversity
    • Quality of organizing team
    • Size of workshop
    • Novelty
    • survey e-mail sent to ACL members.
    • For more details see this document
    • Code and scripts for setting up the online survey are here (TBA added)
  • Workshop assignments: after workshops are chosen they are assigned to the different venues and are given a date. Rejection and acceptance e-mails are sent (template). At this point the joint work of all workshops chairs is mostly over and each pair of workshop chairs take care of their own conference.

Workshop organization (From December)

  • This part is mostly coordinating with the workshop organizers, general chair, publication chair and conference handbook chair.
  • For most questions related to the venue, registration and ISBN numbers, Priscilla is probably the best person to ask. For SoftConf related issues, the program chair is the best person to ask. For proceeding and handbook, it is best to email publication and handbook chairs on the same email thread. Consider cc’ing the general chair, program chairs and Priscilla on some important emails to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Send the list of accepted workshops to the website chair so that they are put on the website
  • Coordinate with the general chair of the conference to get the important dates for all workshops (submission deadline, notification deadline, camera-ready deadline, proceeding deadline). Check carefully with all publication chairs to make sure proceeding deadline is early enough and has several days for buffer; this is the most crucial date.
  • Decide on a date when the workshop organizers must assemble the schedule and materials for the conference handbook. The material is sent to conference handbook chair. This is not flexible usually. Towards the deadline (~1-1.5 months before the conference) there is likely to be some correspondence between workshop organizers and the handbook chair about the exact format needed from the workshop organizers
  • Let the workshop organizers they are responsible for assembling the proceedings of their workshop and coordinate with the publication chair. How to instructions.
  • Ask the program chair who whether they are setting SoftConf START accounts for all the workshops. If not, workshops organizers need to know they should do it
  • Write a progress report for ACL executives when asked by general chair
  • Prepare a coordination sheet for all the conference workshops. This will contain at least the following information by the end of the conference and needs to be verified by the workshop organizers:
    • Official workshop name
      • Exact* name of the proceedings
    • URL of workshop website
    • Abbreviation for SoftConf link (program chair)
    • Contacts for all workshop organizers
    • Number of posters and time when they are needed
    • ACL ID prefix for ACL anthology (publication chair)
    • ISBN: after confirming the exact name of the proceedings, ask Priscilla to issue ISBN numbers, then rally the ISBN numbers back to the workshop organizers for them to add into proceedings.
  • Here are example emails for all the announcements sent to workshop organizers
    • Subject: “ACL 2017 Workshops -- setting up” (sent in February)
    • Subject: “ACL 2017 Workshops -- poster and schedule” (sent in April)
    • Subject: “ACL workshops -- information needed (number of posters and name of the "free" invited speaker)” (sent in late May)
    • Subject: “ACL workshops -- handbook and proceedings” (sent a month before proceeding deadline)
    • Subject: “Reminder: ACL Workshop Proceedings in 4 days!”
    • Subject: “ACL workshops -- handbook check”
    • Subject: “ACL workshops -- final check on poster and room requests”
  • Announce the size of posters for the workshops (ask Priscilla about the size; it could be different from main conference)
  • Usually each workshop waives registration fee for one invited speaker. This can also be managed in the coordination sheet.
  • Coordinate with Priscilla and announce the schedule for the workshops: start time, end time, break and meal times. All workshops should have the exact time for meals and breaks. This is very important as otherwise it is very hard to coordinate breaks for all workshops. Example:
    • Breakfast 7:30-9:00 am
    • Start time: between 8:30 and 9:00 am
    • Mid-morning coffee/decaf/tea refresh: 10:30-11:00 am
    • Lunch: 12:30-2:00 pm
    • Mid-afternoon Snacks: 3:30-4:00 pm
    • End of day: 5:00-6:00 pm (preferably by 5:30)
  • Remind workshop organizers about the handbook and especially the proceedings deadline (two weeks and four days before due dates) and include handbook and publication chairs in the same email thread. Ask handbook and publication chairs how do they want the schedule and proceedings submitted. Usually you may pass down the instructions from the handbook chair to the workshop organizers; while due to the complexity of proceedings, it is better for the publication chairs to directly send instructions and communicate with the workshop organizers.

Example Timeline (based on 2017 conferences)

  • 2016 July: first call for workshop proposal
  • 2016 August: ACL 2016 (opportunity to talk with workshop co-chairs from prior year
  • 2016 Sep 30: proposal submission deadline
  • 2016 Nov: EMNLP 2016 (opportunity to talk with Priscilla in person)
  • 2016 Nov 1: proposal acceptance notification
  • 2017 April 3-4: EACL 2017 conference (first conference in the season)
  • 2017 April 21: ACL 2017 workshop paper submission deadline
  • 2017 May 26: ACL 2017 workshop camera ready deadline
  • 2017 June 2: ACL 2017 workshop handbook/schedule deadline
  • 2017 June 26: ACL 2017 workshop proceedings deadline (important! leave enough time for corrections)
  • 2017 July 31 - Aug 4: ACL 2017 conference