Two gently ways to fix Peer Review2019 May 19
Jacob Buckman in this beautiful blog piece gave two gentle ways to enhance Peer Review.
About the relative certification from Peer Review process provided by conferences:
So my first suggestion is this: change from a relative metric to a standalone evaluation. Conferences should accept or reject each paper by some fixed criteria, regardless of how many papers get submitted that year. If there end up being too many papers to physically fit in the venue, select a subset of accepted papers, at random, to invite. This mitigates one major source of randomness from the certification process: the quality of the other papers in any given submission pool.
And the most important piece it’s about the create a rejection board to disincentivize low-quality submissions:
This means that if you submit to NeurIPS and they give you an F (rejection), it’s a matter of public record. The paper won’t be released, and you can resubmit that work elsewhere, but the failure will always live on. (Ideally we’ll develop community norms around academic integrity that mandate including a section on your CV to report your failures. But if not, we can at least make it easy for potential employers to find that information.)
Why would this be beneficial? Well, it should be immediately obvious that this will directly disincentivize people from submitting half-done work. Each submission will have to be hyper-polished to the best it can possibly be before being submitted. It seems impossible that the number of papers polished to this level will be anywhere close to the number of submissions that we see at major conferences today. Those who choose to repeatedly submit poor-quality work anyways will have their CVs marred with a string of Fs, cancelling out any certification benefits they had hoped to achieve.
I personally bet € 100 that if any conference adopt this mechanism, at least 98% of all of these planting-flag papers will be vanished forever.