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General Submissions Ethics of Review

Hewlett Packard


Protect Ideas

As a reviewer for SIGGRAPH, you have the responsibility to protect the confidentiality of the ideas represented in the submissions you review. Protection of the ideas in the submissions you receive means:

  • Do not discuss or show the submission to anyone else, including colleagues or students.
  • Do not show supporting assets (for example, video, images, etc.) to non-reviewers.
  • Do not use ideas from the submission you review to develop new ones.

Avoid Conflicts of Interest 

As a reviewer of a SIGGRAPH submission you have a certain power over the reviewing process. It is important for you to avoid any conflict of interest. Even though you would, of course, act impartially on any submission, there should be absolutely no question about the impartiality of your review. Thus, if you are assigned a submission where your review would create a possible conflict of interest, you should return the submission and not submit a review.

Conflicts of interest include (but are not limited to) situations in which:

  • You work at the same institution as one of the submitters.
  • You have been directly involved in the work and will be receiving credit in some way. For example, if you are a member of the author's thesis committee, and the submission is about his or her thesis work, then you are involved.
  • You suspect that others might see a conflict of interest in your involvement. For example, even though Microsoft Research in Seattle and Beijing are in some ways more distant than Berkeley and MIT, there is likely to be a perception that they are "both Microsoft," so folks from one should not review submissions from the other.
  • You have collaborated with one of the submitters in the past three years (more or less). Collaboration is usually defined as having written a paper or grant proposal together, although you should use your judgment.
  • You were the MFA/MS/PhD advisor of one of the submitters or the MFA/MS/PhD advisee of one of the submitters. Funding agencies typically consider advisees/advisors to represent a lifetime conflict of interest. SIGGRAPH has traditionally been more flexible than this, but you should think carefully before reviewing a submission you know to be written by a former advisee/advisor.

But if you recognize the work or the contributor and feel it could present a conflict of interest, send the submission back to the General Submission chair as soon as possible so he or she can find someone else to review it.

Be Serious 

We have a responsibility to be serious in the reviewing process. You should make an effort to do a good review. This is obvious. But one of the complaints we have heard about the SIGGRAPH review process is that some reviews can be so sketchy that it looks like the reviewer did not even seem to take the time to read the submission carefully. A casual or flippant review of a submission that the author has seriously submitted is not appropriate. In the long run, casual reviewing is a most damaging attack on the SIGGRAPH conference. There is no dishonor in being too busy to do a good review, or to realize that you have over-committed yourself and cannot review all the submissions you agreed to review. But it is a big mistake to take on too much, and then not back out early enough to allow recovery. If you cannot do a decent job, give the submission back and say so. But please, do it early so that there is time to select another reviewer before the deadline. 

Be Professional 

Belittling or sarcastic comments may help display one's wit, but they are unnecessary in the reviewing process. Be objective and constructive in your reviews. The most valuable comments in a review are those that help the contributor understand the shortcomings of their work and how they might improve it. If you intensely dislike a submission, give it a low score. That makes a sufficient statement.

In Summary 

Adherence to ethics makes the whole reviewing process more complicated and sometimes less efficient. But convenience, efficiency, and expediency are not good reasons to contravene ethics. It is precisely at those times when it would be easier or more efficient to bend the rules that it is most important to do the right thing. Ultimately, spending that energy and time is an investment in the long-term health of the general submissions, the conference, and the community.