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Frequently Asked Questions for the WIESS '02 "Student Helper" Process

Q. What is the goal of the "student helper" process?

A. We have three goals:

  1. Assist WIESS authors who have limited experience in preparing scientific papers for publication.

  2. Expose graduate students to the concerns of industrial software practice.

  3. Ensure that the WIESS audience gets as much as possible out of each paper.

Q. Are authors obliged to accept a student helper?

A. No. The decision is entirely up to the author. Also, either the author or the student helper may back out of the arrangement at any time -- we don't want to lock anyone into an unsatisfactory arrangement.

Q. How are student helpers assigned to papers?

A. Prospective student helpers will volunteer for the process prior to the paper submission deadline. Immediately after the Program Committee choses the accepted papers, the list of papers (including abstracts) will be provided to the student helpers. Each student can then list a paper (or a few papers) which seem like a good match. A member of the Program Committee will make the final decision matching students to papers. It is possible that not all students will be matched to a paper, and that not all willing authors will be matched with a student.

Q. Who is eligible to become a student helper?

A. We are primarily looking for graduate students in Computer Science or related fields, although we may consider applications from well-qualified undergraduates. The student should be prepared to commit a reasonable amount of time during the period between paper acceptance notification (August 19, 2002) and the due date for final copy (September 30, 2002).

We want students who have a good background in the literature of their area of computer science, who have some experience in writing scientific papers or reports, and who can work well with the authors via email and telephone.

Q. Will the student be listed as a co-author of the paper?

A. That is entirely up to the authors and the student. We encourage authors to list student authors as co-authors if the the student contributes significantly to the final paper, but fundamentally, the student is an assistant, not necessarily an author.

Q. What does the student gain from the process?

A. We believe that graduate students can benefit from exposure to the concerns, constraints, and expertise of industrial software practitioners. Students can also benefit from the experience of working collaboratively on a scientific paper.

More concretely, student helpers are eligible to apply for a USENIX Student Stipend, which covers travel, accommodations and registration fees for full-time students interested in attending USENIX conferences and workshops (such as WIESS and OSDI). We cannot guarantee that stipends will be available, however. For more information on the Student Stipend Program, see <>.

Q. What do the authors gain from the process?

A. One goal of WIESS is to attract papers from authors who do not normally publish papers, and who do not work together with other experienced authors. We expect the student helpers to provide WIESS authors with a stronger connection to experienced authors. Another goal of WIESS is to improve communication between industry and the research community; we expect that students can help authors understand what the research community would like to learn from a WIESS paper. Also, almost any paper can benefit from constructive comments by another reader.

Q. What are the responsibilities of the student helper?

A. A student helper should start by reading the submitted version of the paper, and then contact the author(s) to establish mutually agreeable terms of the collaboration. This should especially include working out a schedule. Students should try to stick to the schedule (and to be forgiving if unforseen business demands make it hard for the authors to stick to the schedule!) Students should provide constructive comments on the paper (including both the content and the presentation), and should offer their help in any way that makes sense to both student and authors.

This could, for example, include: finding and analyzing other related work; making suggestions to improve the organization of the paper; suggesting other questions that ought to be answered in the paper; and suggesting material that might be removed without harming the presentation.

Q. What is the role of the student's faculty advisor(s)?

A. We hope that advisors, who normally mentor students on the preparation of papers for publication, would help out in this process. We do not expect advisors to be listed as co-authors!

Q. How does the student helper differ from the paper's shepherd?

A. If a shepherd is assigned to an accepted paper, the shepherd has the responsibility of holding the authors to the requirements laid out by the program committee. The shepherd thus has the power to block publication of the paper, if these requirements are not met. The student helper has no such power, and should not try to act in that role. The student may assist the authors in meeting the shepherd's requirements.

Q. How are disagreements settled between authors and helpers?

A. The authors of the paper have final say about what goes into the published paper (subject to the shepherd's approval). If there is a dispute between the authors and the student, we would like to see an amicable resolution; the shepherd and (if necessary) the Program Chair are willing to help out. If a dispute continues, the best solution may be for the student to withdraw.

Q. Will the student have access to the reviews of the paper?

A. This is entirely at the authors' discretion, but since the reviews are intended to guide the preparation of the final draft, we suggest that students be given access. Students are required to keep the reviews confidential, of course. Students, just as for authors, will not be given the names of the reviewers.

Q. How much time should the student helper expect to spend?

A. This is hard to predict. At the very least, the student will need to carefully read one or more drafts of the paper and offer constructive help. The student may be asked to help with editing or re-writing portions of the paper. It is possible that a student may get involved in technical issues (such as running experiments or coding software), but this is not our primary expectation.

Q. How are intellectual property rights handled in this process?

A. Authors and students must understand that, prior to the date of the workshop, all submissions are held in the highest confidentiality prior to publication in the Proceedings, both as a matter of policy and in accord with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. Authors may choose whether or not to reveal to student helpers additional proprietary information that will not be made public, but we recommend that authors not ask students to sign non-disclosure agreements, if at all possible.

We will try to avoid matching a student with a paper if the student is currently working for a direct competitor of the authors' employer, but we expect students to report any unforseen conflicts of interest.

Q. Is this really going to work?

A. It's an experiment. We will try to make it work. If it fails, we hope not to have inconvenienced too many people. We don't want anyone to feel like they have wasted their time on it. And because this is an experiment, we may change some of the answers in this FAQ as we go along.

Q. How do I sign up?

A. Please contact the Student Helper Coordinator at <> before July 1, 2002.

?Need help? Use our Contacts page.

Last changed: 6 May 2002 jr
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