Report from the ACL 2004 Workshop Chair
Srinivas Bangalore

In response to the call for workshop proposals sent out in October
2003, a total of 18 proposals were received by the deadline on
December 8, 2003. The workshop proposals were reviewed over a period
of two weeks by the ACL 2004 Workshop committee. The committee
constituted of members from USA, Europe and Asia with representation
from academic and research institutions (Srinivas Bangalore (AT&T,
USA), Marcello Frederico (IRIST, Italy), Christopher Manning (Stanford
Univ,USA), and Helen Meng (CUHK, Hong Kong)). Based on the room
availability, a limit of 11 workshops was placed by the local
organizers. The committee selected the 11 workshops based on the
following criteria:

- Does the topic have a broad community of interest?
- Is the workshop one of Research/Application/Technology/Resource and how
  important is to have a workshop forum for that topic?
- All SIG workshops were accepted.
- Interdisciplinary workshop proposals got a preference.

Four two-day workshops and seven one-day workshops made up the eleven
selected workshops. Three of the eleven workshops were Special
Interest Group (SIG) sponsored workshops -- SIGHAN, SIGLEX, and
SIGPHON. The SIGDAT sponsored EMNLP conference was not treated as a
workshop from the very outset. It was only in May 2004, it became
clear that due to the lack of sufficient number of quality paper
submissions one of the workshops had to be cancelled.

The workshop chairs were informed about the acceptance decision on
December 23, 2003 and were asked to prepare a call-for-papers by the
second week of January, 2004 for circulation. The workshop chairs were
free to set their own schedule for paper submission, review and
camera-ready version, although the workshop committee suggested a
reasonable set of dates for these deadlines. The only constraint was
that the camera-ready papers would have to be submitted to the
publication chair by June 1, 2004. The chairs were also required to
set up a web-page for their workshop and a HTML template file was
provided to ease this process.

With the help of local organizers, an e-mail alias was set up to
communicate with all the workshop chairs which proved to be very
useful to discuss issues related to workshop organization and
publications. Barring a glitch in e-mail delivery to one of the
workshop chairs, the process progressed smoothly.


- At the current time, a workshop proposal requires an individual
  organizer as a point-of-contact for communication. Instead, workshop
  organizers should be required to set up an e-mail alias that
  includes the e-mail addresses of all the workshop organizers. This would
  eliminate the problem of dropped e-mails due to the absence of the
  point-of-contact as well as provide the necessary redundancy in case
  an e-mail is not delivered to the point-of-contact. This will also
  obviate the need for the point-of-contact to forward e-mails to
  other co-organizers.

- Given the appeal of EMNLP to a large subset of the ACL community,
  organizing it in parallel against the workshops might affect the
  workshop registrations. However, if the ACL community does not want
  to add another conference to the list of conferences in a year,
  then it might be a better choice to run EMNLP in parallel to the
  tutorials. This option was not explored this year.

- Conflict-of-interest Issue: The ACL policies and procedures handbook
  might want to explicitly lay out the procedure for handling the
  review of a workshop proposal which involve one of the members of the
  workshop committee in an organizational role in the workshop. This
  year we had such a situation for one workshop and an independent
  review from the General Chair was solicited for deciding the
  acceptance of that workshop.

- It is a bit awkward that the workshop organizers have to pay
  registration fees to attend their own workshop. Furthermore, the
  invited speaker for a workshop is required to pay the registration
  fees for the workshop that they have been invited to.  It might be
  more appropriate if the registration fees for the organizers and
  invited speaker is waived and if necessary, the fee for the workshop
  be set suitably to recover this cost.