CSCW 2010: The 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work • February 6–10, 2010 • Savannah, Georgia, USA


Guide to Successful Submissions

This document provides information that will help you prepare a Paper or Note that will be acceptable for inclusion in the CSCW 2010 Program. (Please also consult the specific Call for Participation for Papers & Notes and the Submission Instructions.) We would like to acknowledge past CSCW conference Papers Chairs for contributing content for this guide.

Please send comments about Papers & Notes to Steve Whittaker and Elizabeth Churchill (, CSCW 2010 Papers & Notes Co-Chairs.


The CSCW conference is interdisciplinary in nature, typically drawing submissions from diverse fields (e.g., computer science, psychology, anthropology, business, education) and sectors (e.g., industry, academia, government, international regions). Given this diversity of perspectives, it might be unclear how to write a successful paper that reaches out to the CSCW audience. Toward that end, we want to communicate to prospective authors (and to reviewers of CSCW papers) what makes a successful Paper or Note submission to CSCW. By “successful”, we mean a submission that presents the work with all the information needed to get a fair review. If the work is innovative and interesting to the CSCW community, then successful submissions should be accepted. But, if the review process finds that the work does not meet the quality threshold for accepted papers, then a successful submission will still generate constructive feedback to the authors. We don’t want these guidelines to constrain the creativity and freedom of authors. However, we thought these guidelines would help make the review process a constructive experience where authors and reviewers work together to create the best quality conference possible.

A useful place to start discussing successful CSCW submissions is the review process. It’s important to note that CSCW reviews Papers and Notes on an “as-is” basis. The review process does not include enough time for a second review after the author has made requested changes, so reviewers must make a decision whether the submission in its current form is an acceptable CSCW publication. (However, reviewers often do make suggestions, and authors of accepted Papers and Notes are encouraged to revise their work before a final draft is required.) Describing future work (or work expected to be completed before the conference) is often interesting, but you should not rely on any unfinished work to gain acceptance to the conference. A common reviewer comment is that a submission was premature and should be resubmitted when more of the work is completed.

The reviews of Paper and Notes will be managed by the same, integrated papers committee. We are looking for the same level of quality in Papers and Notes, but the scope of Papers and Notes will be different, as described below. We strongly encourage prospective authors to carefully consider what venue is appropriate for the size of contribution presented in their work. Submissions will be evaluated according to the venue it was submitted by the author-there will be no mechanism for re-considering a submitted Paper as a shorter Note. Papers and Notes are both high-quality, archival research contributions that are published in the ACM Digital Library.

Paper and Note submissions will be reviewed by at least three people from a panel of international reviewers. Although the wording of the review form changes from year, the review form essentially asks:

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Is the work new, significant, and important to the CSCW community?

Simply put, CSCW is looking for innovative and significant work in the research and practice of applying technology to support collaborative work. As noted in the Call for Participation, topics include:

The emphasis on new means that the work should be interestingly different from previous work in the area. A good sense of what has been done in the field can be gained by browsing the proceedings of previous CSCW conferences and the related European CSCW conferences — see Related Conferences. Because of the emergent and interdisciplinary nature of CSCW, papers can sometimes introduce ideas and theories from other fields by demonstrating their relevance to CSCW.

The emphasis on significant and important means that the work should have the potential for changing the way our community: applies principles, theory, or methodologies, studies collaborative activity, or characterizes the CSCW perspective.

Authors should clearly address: What is the new and significant contribution of the work? How is it different from existing work? How is the problem useful and relevant to the CSCW community? What can the CSCW community learn from this work?

Because CSCW is a multi-disciplinary and international conference, it is important to take a global perspective on “what’s new and significant”. It’s easy to get caught up in your particular specialty in your corner of the world, but successful submissions help people in other disciplines and locales appreciate what is new and significant about your work. It also helps to put your work in the context of related previous work. Citing related work and describing how your work differs is a good start towards demonstrating what’s new about your work.

Sometimes authors bury the new and significant parts of the work among the many other issues crammed into the paper. With the limit of either ten pages (Paper) or four pages (Note) to describe your work, it’s important to choose an appropriate focus for the submission. In general, in a ten page Paper is difficult to make more than three major points, so think carefully about the issues you want to highlight. In a four page Note, one major point is probably appropriate. Keep in mind that you want the reader to be able to easily identify your contribution and why it is important.

Is the thesis sufficiently supported?

The validity of the ideas or claims in the submission need to be supported by appropriate data, analyses, or arguments. In the case of data analyses, an appropriate methodology should be selected and correctly applied to support the work. Authors should: provide sufficient data and/or well-supported arguments, explain what analyses were made and why, cite relevant work, and cover the important issues at the appropriate level of detail. The appropriate level of detail will vary based on whether your submission is a Paper or a Note.

For Papers

A common reviewer comment is that an obvious or important issue with the work was not addressed by the authors. Papers have also been criticized for not providing enough evidence or sound reasoning for their claims. A similar concern is not justifying the design choices and not explaining why certain design features were included. In summary, you should not only explain what you did, but 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.

One way to support your ideas, one that CSCW strongly prefers, is to include some evaluation or application of the ideas. CSCW is not especially interested in descriptions of new technology without any evaluation of its usefulness to people. If it is not possible to conduct an evaluation with real users, then find some other way to indicate how your work benefits people. For example, you might spend more time explaining how the system was motivated by user needs and how it addresses those needs. CSCW is a conference about people using technology, and reviewers are looking for serious consideration of this central issue.

It’s important to pick an appropriate evaluation methodology for the task and to conduct it appropriately. Reviewers often cited inappropriate methodology choices (e.g., using a quantitative method for something that has qualitative effects) and improper uses of the method (e.g., not enough subjects, inappropriate statistical analyses).

Finally, referees sometime complain that authors have failed to cite clearly relevant work previously published in CSCW-related proceedings and journals. This problem is often found with authors from areas outside CSCW who may not know the CSCW literature. Look through previous proceedings to see how the ideas in your thesis relate to previous papers.

For Notes

As Notes are a maximum of four pages, they will be more succinct and focused than a CSCW paper submission. Therefore while the main point of the paper should be well supported, Notes are not expected to have all the traditional elements of a CSCW long paper submission. For example, a Note might discuss the design of a new interaction technique that supports groups without including extensive implementation details or evaluation. We also expect Notes to situate their contribution with respect to closely related work. However, we do not anticipate Notes will include extensive discussions of all related work. The specific focus of a Note should help define a scope that will fit within four pages. Please see the list below for more examples.

Is the work clearly and concisely described?

You would be surprised at the number of reviewer comments that indicate that the work was not adequately described. Usually the authors simply did not carefully describe what they did or how they studied what they did. Describing the work involves not only good writing, but also a solid structure that helps the reader follow the explanation. It also helps to support the text with figures, tables, and photos that are clear and easy to understand. Authors should clearly describe what was done and/or how it was studied, write clearly and concisely (avoiding jargon), organize their paper to flow logically and smoothly, provide the right level of detail, and make good use of figures to support the text.

Although all presentations at CSCW are made using English, CSCW is a conference with an international audience (and an international panel of reviewers). Keeping a global perspective also means using the English language in a way that effectively communicates across cultural boundaries. For authors who are not native speakers of English, reviewers try to assess the quality of the work independent of language issues. However, it is in your best interest to communicate as clearly and effectively as you can in English. If a native English speaker is available, it is a good idea to ask them to proofread your paper before you submit it. For those whose first language is English, it helps to keep in mind that non-native English speakers will be reading and reviewing the paper. It is best to avoid long, complex sentences as well as regional colloquialisms, jokes, or puns that are difficult for someone outside your culture to understand.

Examples of Successful Papers and Notes


With the large number of submissions that are typically received, CSCW’s review process is competitive. The intent of the review process is to bring the highest quality, most interesting, most provocative Papers and Notes to the conference. Doing a good job writing (and reviewing) CSCW submissions is a lot of work, but we hope that work is rewarded with a high quality conference that benefits us all. We hope this document has helped give you some concrete guidelines on how to write a successful CSCW submission. If you’d like more information, contact Steve Whittaker and Elizabeth Churchill (, CSCW 2010 Papers & Notes Co-Chairs. Best wishes, and we look forward to seeing a good collection of submissions this year.