[PD] PDCon07 peer review process

Andrew Brouse brouse at music.mcgill.ca
Tue Oct 2 20:49:20 CEST 2007

On 30-Sep-07, at 5:45 PM, pd-list-request at iem.at wrote:

> yeh i think people understand me when i complain
> about MB's spam, and also, about the fact that the pd
> convention was MB convention
> ( of course, when you're in the convention comittee
> and that you worked previously
> with all the curators out there ),

This was brought to my attention and I feel I need to respond to it.

I have no interest in getting involved in personal squabbles here.
(I suggest you take such things 'out back': off-list.)

I do, however, take very great exception with the imputation that the  
selection processes for PDCon07 artistic events or papers sessions  
were done in anything less than strict conformance with established  
international norms for such things.

A couple of clarifications:

Matthieu Bouchard was on the steering committee, not the executive,  
he did not have a say in final decisions which were made.

Everyone who worked on PDCon07 worked extremely diligently for long  
hours over the period of a year. The amount of hours which I put in  
caused me some serious problems where I work and with my ongoing PhD  
thesis. Organising the papers sessions often felt like a completely  
thankless job and I had to question myself on a regular basis whether  
it was all worth it. To have it suggested flippantly - after all the  
blood, sweat and tears - that the selection process was somehow  
rigged or not fair is very distressing. It really hurts. I'm sure the  
other members of the executive feel the same way.

At the end of the day, I justified it to myself this way: free and  
open-source tools like Pd are increasingly essential for musicians  
and artists to do their work. As someone who used to work in  
sculpture with wood, stone and steel, I know intimately that the  
quality of the work you do depends - amongst other factors - on  
having reliable tools. The same is true for computer music and media  
art. Commercial tools for computer music and media art are becoming  
increasingly expensive and unreliable at the same time. We need tools  
like Pd. At the same time it seems to me that Pd is at a crucial  
stage in its evolution and significant changes are happening. So, the  
papers sessions were seen as a way of enabling the important  
discussions which need to happen to go forward. I wanted to put the  
ideas proposed by the diverse members of the Pd community into a  
context of calm, respectful - yet vigourous - debate and discussion.  
I wanted to put the best ideas into the clear light;  and let those  
ideas be seen and discussed based on their own merits. To enable  
this, the selection process had to be as fair and transparent as  
possible, and so it was.

As I had nothing to do with the artistic selection process I cannot  
comment on that.
I was, however, the papers chair and did manage that process so I  
will outline to you exactly how the decisions were made:

0. Calls for papers were made and 44 submissions were made via the  
web interface.

1. Suggestions for potential peer reviewers were requested from  
within the local Pd community.

2. A list of potential reviewers was compiled and invitations were made.

3. Slightly less than half of those invited did accept.

4. Submissions were assigned to reviewers with at least 3 reviewers  
per paper.
(there was one exception to this as one of our reviewers bailed out  
at the last minute, this particular case was brought to the executive  
for discussion and the paper was in fact accepted)

5. Reviews were compiled and a cut-off score was decided (4.0 of a  
possible 6.0). All papers above this threshold were accepted. (Note:  
Matthieu Bouchard was listed as principle or secondary author on 4  
submissions, 3 of which were accepted, all with a score of 4.0 or  

6. A small number of papers below this threshold which broached  
subjects judged to be important to the Pd community.were accepted for  
reasons of universal interest and thematic consistency. A total of 26  
papers were finally accepted.

7. The authors were informed of the results and comments from the  
reviewers were passed on.

8. Most authors re-submitted revised versions of their papers taking  
into account the comments of the reviewers.

9. Most authors did come and present at PDCon with a small number  
unable to attend due to financial or other issues.

Anyone who has any questions, issues or complaints about the papers  
review process for PDCon07, please contact me directly at:
pdcon.papers at gmail.com

Anyone who has any questions, issues or complaints about the artistic  
review process for PDCon07, please contact Marc Fournel directly at:
fournel.marc at gmail.com

Thanks once again to all who participated in PDCon07 and especially  
to those who submitted papers presented at PDCon and helped so  
greatly by reading and reviewing submissions for us.

best regards,
Andrew Brouse
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium


Andrew Brouse
PDCon07 Papers Chair
pdcon.papers at gmail.com

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