Musings of a Tech Transfer Enthusiast
Recently I was asked to be the co-chair of the ICSME Industry Track. Of course, one of the responsibilities of the chairs is to chose the program committee, those who review papers and ultimately decide what's in and what's out. While there's some good advice on choosing PCs for academic tracks there's much less written on choosing PCs for industrial tracks. So, below I'm sharing a couple of tips we learned as we chose an industrial PC.
Tip #1: Don't Invite Pure Academics
Don't get me wrong--I have a ton of respect for academics who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge--but their focus on novelty is not necessarily an asset during industry track reviews. Let's consider the following review, which my group received for an ICSE Industry Track (SEIP) submission:
The paper presents a tool (and process) called Prodet, to assists developer in navigating the code, in MSFT Visual studio. They validate their assumptions about the benefit of Prodet through an experiment.
Obviously, this is an unusually kind review (thanks reviewer!), but let me bring your attention to the bolded ending sentence: "I just find it not very exciting, sorry." This is exactly the reaction that I expect, and regularly get, when presenting work to academics. I don't fault them for it. If your focus is on pushing the boundaries and novelty as the primary metric industrial work can seem quite boring. However, for industrialists this type of work is quite exciting. Taking an idea in its infancy, finding all the ways that it fails miserably when applied at scale, innovating around these issues, and convincing busy developers that the resulting tool will save them time is what we live for. Put simply, it's disheartening to receive reviews from those who don't value that work.
Fortunately, there's a simple fix for this issue: invite those from industry. As you'll see from a quick glance at our PC, this is what we've tried to do. We have people like:
Tip #2: Invite Some Industry-Leaning Academics
While I've just told you to avoid inviting pure academics, it's actually important to invite some academics. Why? When an industrialist is knee deep in his/her latest tool-building effort, it's easy to miss a few relevant papers from the latest conferences, and so academics are sometimes more up-to-date on advances in the academic field. Thus, a few academics on the PC can ensure an appropriate framing of the work and help inject new ideas into the conversation.
However, when inviting academics I'd still recommend inviting a certain type of academic, one with an industrial leaning or background. For instance, we have invited people like:
Spread the Word: ICSME Industry Track
Hopefully these tips help others as they go about choosing an industry track PC. More immediately, I hope any industrial researchers or practitioners reading this are encouraged by these improvements, as I think they are part of a larger trend. As ICSE's SEIP continues to get better (22.5% acceptance rate this year), ICSME's Industry track continues to grow and become more competitive, and more attention is paid to the engineering side of software engineering than perhaps ever before, I think that those living on the boundary between research and practice can expect an exciting future.
Submit to the ICSME Industry Track. Abstracts due Jun 19th.
David Shepherd leverages software engineering research to create useful additions to the IDE.