In response to the unprecedented growth that the security community has experienced in recent years, the organizers of the USENIX Security Symposium seek to improve the experience of authors and reviewers, to publish a greater volume of strong research more efficiently, and to evolve in order to meet the needs of a community that is both evolving and expanding.
The Symposium will accept submissions three times in 2021, in summer, fall, and winter. For USENIX Security '21, the first deadline will be June 11, 2020 and the final submission deadline for papers that appear in USENIX Security '21 will be February 4, 2021. The first submission deadline for USENIX Security ’22 will occur in June 2021.
The goal of three deadlines is to allow authors to submit quality work when it is ready for publication, while still allowing both a reasonable reviewing burden for program committee members and a sufficiently long reviewing schedule.
For USENIX Security '21, at the end of the review process, papers will receive one of the following outcomes:
This outcome is the same as for past USENIX Security Symposia: no changes are required from the authors in order to be published.
- Minor Revision
This outcome replaces “Accept with Shepherd"; this is for papers where only textual/presentation issues such as statement of results or citation of prior work need to be changed. Such papers will be shepherded and the requested changes to the paper must be complete by the camera-ready deadline for accepted papers.
- Major Revision
This outcome requests prescriptive changes that, if made correctly, will likely lead to the paper being accepted by the program committee. These would be changes that are currently considered to be outside of the scope of shepherding, such as new experiments, proofs, or implementations. Reviews will include concrete steps to improve the paper. Authors are likely to receive subsequent reviews from the original reviewers. Authors of papers receiving this designation may submit their revised paper to either of the subsequent two deadlines. Revisions that are not submitted to either of the subsequent two deadlines may receive a new set of reviewers and no guarantee of special consideration, which will also be the case for Reject and Resubmit resubmissions. Major Revision papers will be considered to be still in the review process for the purposes of concurrent submissions for the next two two submission cycles; if authors wish to submit to another venue during this time, they should formally withdraw the paper from consideration in keeping with the USENIX Conference Submissions Policy. Authors must submit their revised papers along with a statement of how the changes address the review comments and a list of changes to the paper.
- Reject and Resubmit
This outcome indicates that larger-scale changes need to be made. Authors will receive reviews that constructively list big-picture changes that would move the paper towards a publishable state. The set of reviewers assigned to the revised paper may be similar or different. Authors of papers with this outcome may not submit to the immediately following deadline, (e.g., the first deadline when authors may submit their paper receiving a "reject and resubmit" designation for the Summer deadline is Winter of the following year). Authors must submit their revised papers along with a statement of how the changes address the review comments and a list of changes to the paper. Papers receiving this designation are no longer considered to be under review after outcomes are announced to authors and authors are free to submit the papers to another venue without formally withdrawing the paper.
This outcome indicates that authors cannot submit this paper to any of the next two USENIX Security deadlines (i.e., there should be 12 months between submissions). This designation will apply to papers that violate submission policies, that are out of scope for the Symposium, that are incorrect, that have unresolvable ethical problems, or that lack an expectation by reviewers that the authors could reasonably revise the paper in such a fashion to warrant future acceptance.
The organizers expect that journal-style outcomes will already be familiar to authors who have submitted to any journal, so it makes sense to reuse this well-established process to the extent that is possible in this context. These outcomes should also substantially increase the likelihood of papers that require revisions being published sooner and that reviewers will be encouraged to provide more concrete, explicit, constructive changes than in the past.
Program Committee Logistics
The USENIX Security '21 program committee will have two to two-and-a-half months for reviewing and discussion, which will provide a two- to four-week break from reviewing between deadlines. Reviews will be done in two rounds. In the first round, every paper gets two reviews within three to four weeks. Papers that do not pass the first round are papers where both reviewers agree on a "reject" or "reject and resubmit" rating, and receive early reject notices at this point. Authors of papers that pass the first round have the option to submit a rebuttal. Each paper that passes the second round receives two more reviews in two to three weeks. Two weeks of discussion follow. Authors receive final decisions after approximately two months.
Accepted and Minor Revision authors will then have one month to produce a camera-ready submission, which will be posted online. Authors may request that their papers not be posted until USENIX Security '21.
All papers that are accepted by the end of the winter submission reviewing cycle (February–April 2021) will be invited to present at USENIX Security '21.
Program Committee Meetings
The organizers feel that in-person PC meetings have a valuable community-building aspect, and help to ensure shared norms among reviewers.
The program committee will hold one in-person meeting for the Winter session.
Due to ongoing health concerns, the winter PC meeting will be virtual.
Program Committee Terms
For USENIX Security '21, the PC will serve until April 2021. Reviewers of papers receiving a Major Revision designation may need to review resubmissions until November 2021.
Program Committee Service
If you would like to volunteer to be considered to serve on the program committee or if you have suggestions of individuals who might be considered to serve, please complete the USENIX Security PC Nomination form.
The USENIX Security '21 publication model is experimental. The steering committee will work with the USENIX Security '22 program co-chairs on the next phase. The USENIX Security '21 program co-chairs will document our results and share them with the steering committee and the future co-chairs in order to tweak the experiment.