Guide for Reviewers of Special Sessions

Your job as a reviewer of Special Sessions is an important one. Through your reviews you have the opportunity to help the authors and to improve the quality of the symposium. Below are some general guidelines for writing good Special Session reviews:

  • Your job is to write detailed reviews, even for excellent proposals. Tell the authors why you liked their proposal, so that they know what made it successful.

  • If you believe that the proposal is poorly written or poorly thought-out, provide constructive criticism to help the authors.

  • The best reviews clearly justify the reviewer’s choice of rating. The least valuable review gives a low score with no written comments. This simply tells the authors that they have been unsuccessful, with no indication of how or why. It is of no help to the members of the Program Committee, who are charged with making program decisions based on your reviews.

  • Although SIGCSE requires all Special Session proposals to be polished work, the authors will have a brief opportunity to improve their proposals before camera-ready copy is due. Your detailed feedback may help improve a special session and, as a result, the conference.

  • DISTINCTION BETWEEN PANELS AND SPECIAL SESSIONS: Panels present multiple perspectives on a specific topic. Special sessions are an opportunity to customize and experiment with the SIGCSE conference format (e.g. a seminar on a new topic, a committee report, or a forum on curriculum issues)

More Detailed Suggestions

Some examples of information that should be relayed through the review process for special sessions:

Summary of Submission

  • Please summarize the submission in 2-4 sentences in your own words. Please DO NOT copy/paste the abstract into this section.

Strengths of this Submission

Some sample questions to guide your responses in this section):

  • Is the special session topic suitable for the symposium?

  • Do you expect that the level of interest in the special session would be high?

  • Are the particular presenters appropriate? Does their expertise match the panel topic? (Remember that Special Session reviewing is not blind.)

  • Does the proposal appropriately place the topic in the larger context of Computer Science education? Are the authors aware of a range of ideas on the topic? If appropriate, do the authors cite related work? (In evaluating this, please keep in mind that proposals are limited to two pages, so it is unreasonable to expect a detailed “Related Work” section or a long bibliography.)

  • Very Important: Is the structure of the special session presentation reasonable?

    • Do the authors describe the structure of the session at an appropriate level of detail?

    • Is it clear to you how the session will be run?

    • Is this truly a special session? (Is it a Panel in disguise? Is there another format that would be more appropriate?)

Comments for Authors/Areas for Improvement:

  • Is the proposal well-written? Is it clear and well-organized? Are there any technical errors?

  • Do you have any suggestions for the authors …

    • …to improve the proposal itself (either for publication in the proceedings or for submission to a future symposium)?

    • …to improve the quality of the presentation, if accepted?

Obviously this list is not exhaustive. The Program Committee and authors will appreciate your views on other issues as well.


If you have questions about anything discussed above, please contact the SIGCSE 2015 Panels and Special Sessions Wrangler.