USENIX Update to the Systems Research Community

As I have already expressed to many of you, I hope that this message finds you and yours doing as well as possible in these extraordinary circumstances.

tl;dr:

  • Conferences: Still on (but contingencies being developed)
    We currently plan for our conferences to take place as scheduled and will continue to evaluate their viability as in-person events, including developing contingency plans.
  • Reviewers: Encouraged to be understanding of current circumstances
    We encourage all program committee members to remember that projects may have been affected by restrictions to lab access and other resources. Reviewers should look for creative ways to evaluate submitted work while maintaining the high standards of our scientific community.
  • NSDI ’21 Spring Submission Deadlines: No change
    The upcoming Spring deadlines for NSDI ’21 remain as originally scheduled, with paper titles and abstracts due this Friday, April 10, and full paper submissions due Friday, April 17. We also encourage all NSDI authors whose work is not complete by these deadlines to wait for the Fall deadlines. Work submitted to each deadline will be treated equally and we will expand both the reviewing pool and the timelines if necessary to ensure a comfortable workload for program committee members.
  • OSDI ’20 Submission Deadline: Extended
    We are extending the submission deadlines for OSDI ’20: Abstract registrations will now be due Wednesday, May 20, and complete paper submissions are now due Wednesday, May 27.

At USENIX, we’ve been working to determine how best to respond to this rapidly evolving situation, both now and in the future. Although we need to make decisions now, including reconsideration of the deadlines outlined below, we realize that we may well need to revisit and adjust our plans further as the world keeps changing around us.

USENIX’s mission and our values guide our actions. We strive to foster technical excellence and innovation, and support and disseminate research with a practical bias. We are also committed to providing open access to the research that is published and presented at our events, and fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment in which all community members and event attendees feel valued and respected. As a result, we acknowledge the following:

  • We are all—individually and collectively—more important than any one conference or publication; our health and safety is paramount.
  • We all understand that this situation is exceptionally difficult for everyone; we must remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves and to each other—both in spite and because of the current circumstances.
  • We must approach these circumstances with flexibility and a willingness to innovate even as the circumstances prevent business as usual from happening.

The Board of Directors, the staff, the program co-chairs, and the program committees will work to achieve our goals and exemplify our values even as the way we implement them might be different. We evaluated each of our upcoming conference submission deadlines within this context, taking into account existing flexibility and considering what additional flexibility might be appropriate now.

For NSDI ’21, which maintains the twice-yearly deadline submission model that we introduced two years ago, the system already exists to allow for flexibility: authors who are not ready to submit their work this month can wait until the fall to do so without penalty. We recognize that this may increase the reviewer load on the program committee. Thus we will work with the program co-chairs to ensure that the work is distributed fairly and additional resources are available as necessary. If you’re interested in helping with NSDI reviews and are not already on the PC, please contact nsdi21chairs@usenix.org. If you are on the PC and have concerns about your workload, please communicate with the co-chairs as well. We all understand that as volunteers this commitment may not be your highest priority; however, communication is essential to know where we all stand.

For OSDI ’20, with a single opportunity for submission, we’re adding in some breathing room by pushing the entire schedule back by approximately two weeks. The complete schedule is as follows:

  • Original Abstract registrations due: Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 3:00 pm PDT
    New Abstract registrations due: Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 3:00 pm PDT
  • Original Complete paper submissions due: Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 3:00 pm PDT
    New Complete paper submissions due: Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 3:00 pm PDT
    Author response period:

○ Original Reviews available: Tuesday, July 21, 2020
    New Reviews available: Tuesday, August 4, 2020
○ Original Author responses due: Friday, July 24, 2020
    New Author responses due: Friday, August 7, 2020

  • Original Notification to authors: Tuesday, August 4, 2020
    New Notification to authors: Tuesday, August 18, 2020
  • Original Final paper files due: Thursday, October 1, 2020
    New Final paper files due: Thursday, October 15, 2020

We also will open registration for OSDI as well as our other 2020 events much closer to the conferences than usual as we continue to evaluate the viability of these events. At this time we do not have sufficient information to make final decisions regarding the conferences. We will act swiftly as new information arrives and will keep you informed of all changes via https://www.usenix.org/conferences/coronavirus.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to open access and with a business model focused primarily on in-person events, this is a difficult time and we are grateful for your support. We thank the authors who submit their research for publication, the volunteers reviewing work to create the conference programs, the members whose dues and donations help our organization keep running, and the conference attendees willing to go with us on this journey to discover how future events may evolve. I couldn’t ask for a better community of colleagues as we navigate this new world with the spirit of innovation characteristic of USENIX.

Take care and be well.

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