This document was inspired by and draws heavily from the amazing manual for CHI submissions.
Notice: HRI follows the standard ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions.
Guide to a Successful Full Paper Submission
Considerable effort can go into preparing a Full Paper contribution for the HRI conference. No one wants to see this effort go to waste, especially if it involves a potentially valuable contribution that could bring credit to authors and fresh insights to readers. However, HRI is very popular as a place to present work, and this inevitably means that a large proportion of submissions – typically 80 percent – get rejected. For authors, this means taking special care to submit your work in a manner that guarantees the best chance of gaining acceptance. This guide has been prepared to help you.
The Review Process
Like most high-profile conferences, HRI relies on a panel of reviewers to assist the selection of contributions. Your submission will be subjected to thorough reviewing by three or more experts in the relevant field. The process by which these reviewers are selected, and by which their assessments then influence the final decision, has been reworked and refined over the years in order to ensure that submissions are treated as fairly and thoroughly as possible. Familiarizing yourself with the review process will help you in making a strong case for your work.
Full Papers are reviewed by subcommittees that each focus on a thematic subset of Human-Robot Interaction. As an author, you decide which theme best matches the contribution of your research.
The Review Form
Here is a brief overview of the form used by reviewers to submit their reviews of your contribution. You may have been asked to review submissions for HRI, in which case you will need to become very familiar with this form! That’s not why we describe it here, however. Rather, we suggest that familiarity with the questions on the review form will help you to decide what to include or emphasize in your submission.
The questions on the review form ask the reviewer for the following:
- A statement of the submission’s contribution to the field of HRI and its fit to the submitted theme; this provides the Program Committee with a basis for assessing the significance of the contribution, and for judging whether all the reviewers agree on what the contribution is.
- An overall rating for the paper based on the contribution it makes to the field of HRI, from 1 (Reject) to 5 (Strong Accept)
- A rating of the reviewer’s own expertise in the topic area of the submission, from 1 (no knowledge) to 4 (expert); this helps members of the Program Committee to resolve conflicting views on submissions.
- A review of the submission in terms of the following criteria:
- Significance of the paper’s contribution to HRI and the benefit that others can gain from the contribution: why do the contribution and benefit matter?
- Originality of the work: what new ideas or approaches are introduced? We want to emphasize that an acceptable paper must make a clear contribution to Human-Robot Interaction
- Validity of the work presented: how confidently can researchers and practitioners use the results?
- Presentation clarity
- Relevant previous work: is prior work adequately reviewed?
Reviewers are furthermore requested to point out major strengths and weaknesses of the submissions and to make suggestions for improvement. They can also add further comments that they want you or the Program Committee to see. But the author’s main goal should be a strong, clear contribution to HRI. If you do this, your submission should get a high rating.
Making a Significant Contribution
Your submission’s reviewers will be asked to focus on the significance of the submission’s contribution, the benefit others can gain from its results, the validity of the work, and its originality. Of these, the contribution and its significance are the most important. HRI Papers are expected to offer contributions that clearly and significantly advance the field. Your contribution should offer HRI attendees, and readers of the proceedings, something that adds to what they could have learned from existing publications.
Offering Benefit to the Reader
If you are in a position to make a contribution to HRI, there will be people who stand to benefit from it. For example, if you are presenting a user study, it will be of potential use to people involved in developing robots. A paper describing a new algorithm or design will probably catch the eye of social and behavioural scientists keen in studying its effects. The benefit to be gained from your contribution will be one consideration that reviewers take into account.
As you write your submission, therefore, keep in mind the kinds of people you think might benefit from reading it. Think also about how this might happen – what kinds of problems might readers be facing to which your contribution could provide the solution? Try to make sure that the submission explains the contribution in sufficient detail for the full benefit to be extracted. Ask yourself: if I’m a researcher or practitioner working in this space, why should I read this paper?
Ensuring Results are Valid
The validity of your submission’s contribution must be adequately supported by appropriate arguments, analyses, evaluations, or data as best fit the contribution type. Otherwise, readers will find it hard to judge whether they can confidently take up your ideas, and thus gain the benefits you are claiming to offer. Reviewers are therefore asked to assess the validity of the results you are presenting.
Demonstrating validity is one of the most challenging aspects of writing HRI Papers. Reviewers often cite problems with validity as a reason to reject a submission, and these papers often read as if the authors are trying to patch together arguments, after the fact, to support their choices. It is very clear when papers and projects have been addressing the validity issue from the beginning of the project, highlighted by the clear argumentation, and solid evaluation decisions.
Your choice of how to demonstrate validity will depend on what kind of contribution you’re offering. No matter what method you chose to show validity, you should let the reader/reviewer know why that method is appropriate for your situation. Bear in mind that reviewers of Full Paper submissions often mention issues of an obvious or important nature that have not been addressed by the authors. They often criticize authors for conducting studies without adequate theoretical basis, or for not providing enough evidence or sound reasoning for claims. A further concern is a lack of justification for details and not explaining why certain decisions have been made in the research process. In summary, you should explain not only what you did, but also why you did it so that readers (including reviewers) can be convinced that you made appropriate choices. Explaining your choices can also stimulate more research by helping others see alternative approaches.
Gaining Credit for Originality
Originality in your submission will help it get accepted in two ways. First, it is not just helpful but essential that the submission’s contribution be original, going beyond any work already reported in other journals or conference proceedings. Second, reviewers will often give credit for original approaches adopted in conducting the work, particularly if these contributed strongly to the work’s success.
To demonstrate the originality of your contribution you should make sure to cite prior work (including your own) in the relevant area. If possible, explain the limitations in this work that your contribution has overcome. Make sure also to cite publications that have had a major influence on your own work. Lack of references to prior work is a frequent cause for complaint – and low rating – by reviewers. At the same time, long list of references does not show engagement with previous scholarship. As a rule of thumb, citations should be well integrated with the narrative of the paper. Note that reviewers are being asked to set the context for their review by identifying relevant past work; you can help them do this. You can also make it easier for them to check your references by concentrating on papers in easy-to-find publications. Allow adequate time for this part of your submission’s preparation.
While originality in methods is not required for acceptance, reviewers do appreciate novelty and elegance in conducting the work, particularly if they can see how it simplified the work, or could help others conduct work of a similar kind or both. Thus, you may receive credit for an original way of collecting data during a study, or of choosing a means of evaluating a design, or of overcoming a weakness found in a new design. A few examples of such originality in your work will probably strengthen your submission; however, a plethora of them could drown out the central contribution.
HRI Full Papers are expected to include enough detail to allow researchers or practitioners to replicate both core technology and experimental methods. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be easy for others to replicate your work; compelling studies often require access to unique user populations, and compelling technological advances may require specific robotic platforms. But readers should understand how they would reproduce your work.
In particular, algorithms or analysis should be described in significant detail. Wherever possible, it’s fine to save space by referring the reader to prior work for particular steps in your analysis, so long as the overall approach remains readable. Pseudocode is extremely helpful where algorithmic contributions are involved.
Replicability is often a great area for “beta-testing” your paper with a colleague or friend. Ask a colleague to read your paper and list back the important steps you used in data collection and analysis. Did he or she leave any steps out? If so, you may need to add more detail or appropriate references.
Submissions will be criticized if their contributions cannot be replicated; letting others build on your work is the entire purpose of an HRI Full Paper.
Describing the Work Clearly and Concisely
Try to write clearly and concisely, avoid jargon, organize the submission to flow logically and smoothly, provide the right level of detail, and make good use of figures to support the text. You might be surprised at the number of reviewer complaints about written presentation. Describing your work involves not only writing good prose, but also providing a good structure that helps the reader follow the explanation. The text should be supported with figures and tables where appropriate; these should be clear and easy to understand. Papers and Notes may use color figures, but they should be usable when printed in black and white.
Although all presentations at HRI are made in English, HRI is a conference with an international audience – and an international panel of reviewers. Submissions must be written in a language that effectively communicates across national and cultural boundaries. When authors are not native speakers of English, reviewers try to assess the quality of the work independently of language issues, but good English always helps. If you are not a native English speaker but have access to those who are, it is a good idea to ask them to proof-read your submission before you submit it. Professional proofreading services are available as well: if you are a non-native speaker, consider that the cost of a proofreader is likely vanishingly small compared to the cost of the time you and your colleagues have put into your work.
Even if your first language is English, keep in mind that non-native English speakers will be reading and reviewing the submission. Avoid long, complex sentences, and avoid regional colloquialisms, jokes, or puns that could be difficult for someone outside your culture to understand.
Remember that unlike journal papers, HRI papers are reviewed mostly on an ‘as-is’ basis. While your paper may be accepted conditionally upon making changes, the allowable changes at this stage tend to be minor. This is unavoidable given the tight schedule of the reviewing process: there is no time for a second review after the author has made changes, so reviewers must make a decision whether the submission in its current form is acceptable for HRI.
The HRI review process is highly competitive. The intent of the review process is to provide the conference with a programme of submissions offering significant contributions of high potential benefit to attendees and readers. Writing such a submission for HRI is a lot of work, but it is rewarded with the visibility and influence that only high-profile publications like the HRI Proceedings can offer. We hope this document has helped give you some clear and concrete guidance on how to write a successful HRI submission.
Send feedback and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the chairs of your preferred theme.
Best wishes, and we look forward to seeing your successful submissions at HRI 2017.