Starting preparations for the NeurIPS 2019 review process

With 2018 behind us, it is already time for NeurIPS to start preparing for its 2019 conference. We are Alina Beygelzimer, Emily Fox, Florence d’Alché-Buc and Hugo Larochelle. In 2019, we’ll have the honor and duty of acting as Program Chairs (PCs) for NeurIPS 2019.

The NeurIPS community has grown tremendously in the past few years. Many who just joined the community probably don’t know much about the work that’s put in organizing NeurIPS. So, to help shed some light, we thought we could post some updates from time to time on where things stand. Hope you’ll enjoy!

The NeurIPS organizing committee

Before we describe what we’ve been up to so far, for those not familiar with how the NeurIPS organization is structured, here’s a bit of context.

The organization of the conference is generally overseen by the General Chair. Hanna Wallach occupies this role for 2019. The NeurIPS Board (which includes General Chairs from recent previous years) also nominates the first PC, often referred to as the senior PC. Hugo is taking on this role for 2019. The senior PC then works with the Board and General Chair to determine a list of candidate co-PCs to complete the team. The objective is to end up with a group that has a lot of experience with the NeurIPS’s review process, can work well together and spans various dimensions of the NeurIPS community (subfields, academia/industry, geographic location, gender, etc.). Ultimately, Alina, Emily and Florence were asked and accepted to join the team!

PCs are tasked with putting together the scientific program for the main conference, i.e. the selection of papers to appear at the conference and in the NeurIPS proceedings. The General Chair will also be nominating chairs in the organizing committee, responsible for other elements of NeurIPS such as tutorials, workshops, demonstrations and competitions.

Preparing the review process

So, since early January, we’ve started preparing for the upcoming review process.

The first step was to establish a timeline for the various parts of the process. This includes what probably interests most of the people reading this post: the submission deadline. In determining a date, we must take into account the full process, so as to have enough time for finalizing all acceptance decisions by the beginning of September. Indeed, early September is the traditional period for NeurIPS decisions to be out. It also allows for a few months before the conference for people to register and prepare for their trip.

With that said, we’ve set the submission deadline to May 23rd 2019. Importantly, unlike previous years, we are also introducing an earlier and mandatory abstract submission deadline on May 16th. Only a submission with a full abstract entered into CMT by May 16th will be permitted to have the full paper uploaded, due on May 23rd.

The complete timeline will be as follows:

  • May 16: Abstract submission deadline.
  • May 23: Paper submission deadline.
  • Jun 18– Jul 15: Reviewers write reviews.
  • Jul 25–31: Authors respond to reviews.
  • Sep 4: PCs release final decisions.

Recruiting the program committee

The second thing we’ve been up to is beginning the recruitment of reviewers, area chairs (ACs) and senior area chairs (SACs). Though this might seem early, with reviewing not starting until June, finding enough qualified reviewers/ACs/SACs is actually a long and arduous task, that will likely take several weeks. So the earlier we start, the better.

As a reference, last year, the program committee included 3242 reviewers, 243 ACs and 35 SACs. Since the number of submissions in 2018 grew by approximately 50%, for 2019 we would like to increase by 50% the size of each group. That implies recruiting at least 4500 reviewers.

At this point, many have already received invitations to join the program committee, and we plan to send many more invitations. Invitations are sent in batches, based on various sources and criteria for selection (the main one being previous reviewing experience at NeurIPS or some other related conference).

We take this opportunity to emphasize how crucial the contribution of reviewers, ACs and SACs are to making NeurIPS a success. We want to thank in advance all of those who will be accepting our invitation and applaud your sense of scientific duty.

That’s all for now. We should be back with an update in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

Alina Beygelzimer, Emily Fox, Florence d’Alché-Buc, Hugo Larochelle
NeurIPS 2019 Program Chairs