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29th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis

(ISSTA 2020) Los Angeles, US - July 18-22, 2020.


Submission deadline: January 27, 2020.

ISSTA is the leading research symposium on software testing and analysis, bringing together academics, industrial researchers, and practitioners to exchange new ideas, problems, and experience on how to analyze and test software systems.

Double-Blind Reviewing

ISSTA 2020 Guidelines on Double-Blind Reviewing

Why is ISSTA 2020 using double-blind reviewing?

Studies have shown that a reviewer’s attitude toward a submission may be affected, even subconsciously, by author identity. We want reviewers to be able to approach each submission without such involuntary reactions as “Barnaby; he writes good papers” or “Who are these people? I have never heard of them.” For this reason, we ask that authors omit their names from their submissions, and avoid revealing their identities through citations and text. Many systems, security, and programming language conferences use double-blind reviewing and have done so for years (e.g., SIGCOMM, OSDI, IEEE Security and Privacy, SIGMOD, PLDI). Software engineering conferences are gradually starting to adopt this model. In 2017, most of the Software Engineering conferences (ESEC-FSE, ISSTA, ICSME, MSR, ICPC) have adopted double-blind reviewing, and in 2018 also ICSE as well. In 2016, ISSTA decided to try out double-blind reviewing for a four-year trial period, ISSTA 2016,17,18,19.

For those who are interested in motivation for double-blind reviewing, a very well­ argued, referenced, and evidenced article in favour of double-blind review processes for Software Engineering conferences can be found in the blog post by Claire Le Goues. Also there is a list of double-blind resources from Robert Feldt, and a more formal study of the subject by Moritz Beller​​ and Alberto Bacchelli​​.

Generally, this process will be cooperative, not adversarial. While the authors should take precautions not to reveal their identities (see details below), if a reviewer discovers the authors’ identities through a subtle oversight by the authors, the authors will not be penalized.

Do you really think blinding works? I suspect reviewers can often guess who the authors are.

Reviewers can sometimes guess the authorship correctly, though studies show this happens less often than people think. Still, imperfect blinding is better than no blinding at all, and even if all reviewers guess all authors’ identities correctly, double-blind reviewing simply becomes traditional single-blind reviewing.

Couldn’t blind submission create an injustice if a paper is inappropriately rejected because a reviewer is aware of prior unpublished work that actually is performed by the same authors?

The double-blind review process that we will be using for ISSTA 2020 is lightweight: author names will be revealed one week before the PC meeting, after all reviews have been collected. In this phase, the authors’ previous work can and will be explicitly considered.

What about additional information to support repeatability or verifiability of the reported results?

ISSTA 2020 puts a strong emphasis on creation of quality artifacts and repeatability and verifiability of experiences reported in the papers. An artifact evaluation committee is put in place to review artifacts accompanying all accepted papers, without the need to conceal identity of the authors.

For Authors

What exactly do I have to do to anonymize my paper?

Your job is not to make your identity undiscoverable, but to make it possible for our reviewers to evaluate your submission without knowing who you are. If you have a concern that particular information is particularly easy to trace to you, consider adding a warning to reviewers in a footnote, e.g., “Note for reviewers: searching the commit logs of the GitHub projects we used in our evaluation may reveal authors’ identities.”

Also please remove any acknowledgements from the paper.

I would like to provide supplementary material for consideration, e.g., the code of my implementation or proofs of theorems. How do I do this?

In general, supplementary material should also be anonymized. Please make your best to avoid (i) having your names/affiliations in artifact’s metadata (e.g. PDFs, spreadsheets, other documents); (ii) having contributors’ names in source code. To create a repository, you could use an anonymized cloud account (i.e., created with a username not clearly attributable to the authors), or similar solutions.

If the code or the repository cannot be anonymized easily, please either (A) provide an anonymized URL (such as using a URL shortener like http://bit.ly) with a prominent warning to reviewers that following the link may unblind them or, (B) if this is not possible, remove the URL to the repository from the paper and, instead, state “link to repository removed for double-blind review” or similar. Once the author names are revealed, the reviewers can ask the PC chair for the URL, who will contact the authors.

Also note that the assessment of artifacts within the Artifact Evaluation happens after paper acceptance and is not double-blind!

I am building on my own past work on the WizWoz system. Do I need to rename this system in my paper for purposes of anonymity, so as to remove the implied connection between my authorship of past work on this system and my present submission?

No. In our opinion the risk involved in misjudging a technical contribution because of such anonymization would outweigh the risk of de-anonymizing authors. Hence you should refer to the original, true system names only.

Am I allowed to post my (non-blinded) paper on my web page? Can I advertise the unblinded version of my paper on mailing lists or send it to colleagues? May I give a talk about my work while it is under review?

As far as the authors’ publicity actions are concerned, a paper under double-blind review is largely the same as a paper under regular (single-blind) review. Double-blind reviewing should not hinder the usual communication of results. But, during the review period, please don’t broadcast the work on social media. Also, to the extent to which this is possible, please avoid to publish the preprint of your work (e.g., on arXiv or on your website) until it is accepted for publication. In exceptional cases this might be required, but then please avoid spreading the paper more actively.

Will the fact that ISSTA is double-blind have an impact on handling conflicts of interest?

Using double-blind reviewing does not change the principle that reviewers should not review papers with which they have a conflict of interest, even if they do not immediately know who the authors are. Conflicts of interest are identified based on the authors’ and reviewers’ names and affiliations, and they can be declared by both the authors and reviewers. Note: Do not over-declare conflicts! The PC chair will double-check author-declared conflicts. In case we are able to identify clearly spurious conflicts that the authors have no good argument for, this can lead to desk rejection of the paper.

For Reviewers

What should I do if I if I learn the authors’ identities? What should I do if a prospective ISSTA author contacts me and asks to visit my institution?

If at any point you feel that the authors’ actions are largely aimed at ensuring that potential reviewers know their identities, you should contact the PC Chair. If you are unsure, contact the PC Chair. Otherwise you should not treat double-blind reviewing differently from regular single-blind reviewing. You should refrain from seeking out information on the authors’ identities, but discovering it accidentally will not automatically remove you from reviewing a paper you have been assigned. Use your best judgment and feel free to contact us with any concerns.

This FAQ is based on several iterations of ASE, ISSTA, PLDI, and SIGMOD guidelines for double-blind reviewing.

Call for Papers

Technical Papers

Authors are invited to submit research papers describing original contributions in testing or analysis of computer software. Papers describing original theoretical or empirical research, new techniques, in-depth case studies, infrastructures of testing and analysis methods or tools are welcome.

Experience Papers

Authors are invited to submit experience papers describing a significant experience in applying software testing and analysis methods or tools and should carefully identify and discuss important lessons learned so that other researchers and/or practitioners can benefit from the experience. Of special interest are experience papers that report on industrial applications of software testing and analysis methods or tools.

Reproducibility Studies

ISSTA would like to encourage researchers to reproduce results from previous papers. A reproducibility study must go beyond simply re-implementing an algorithm and/or re-running the artifacts provided by the original paper. It should at the very least apply the approach to new, significantly broadened inputs. Particularly, reproducibility studies are encouraged to target techniques that previously were evaluated only on proprietary subject programs or inputs. A reproducibility study should clearly report on results that the authors were able to reproduce as well as on aspects of the work that were irreproducible. In the latter case, authors are encouraged to make an effort to communicate or collaborate with the original paper’s authors to determine the cause for any observed discrepancies and, if possible, address them (e.g., through minor implementation changes). We explicitly encourage authors to not focus on a single paper/artifact only, but instead to perform a comparative experiment of multiple related approaches.

In particular, reproducibility studies should follow the ACM guidelines on reproducibility (different team, different experimental setup): The measurement can be obtained with stated precision by a different team, a different measuring system, in a different location on multiple trials. For computational experiments, this means that an independent group can obtain the same result using artifacts which they develop completely independently. This means that it is also insufficient to focus on repeatability (i.e., same experiment) alone. Reproducibility Studies will be evaluated according to the following standards:

  • Depth and breadth of experiments
  • Clarity of writing
  • Appropriateness of Conclusions
  • Amount of useful, actionable insights
  • Availability of artifacts

In particular, we expect reproducibility studies to clearly point out the artifacts the study is built on, and to submit those artifacts to artifact evaluation (see below). Artifacts evaluated positively will be eligible to obtain the highly prestigious badges Results Replicated or Results Reproduced.

Submissions Guildline

Submissions must be original and should not have been published previously or be under consideration for publication while being evaluated for this symposium. Authors are required to adhere to the ACM Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism and the ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions. More details are available at the Submission Policies page.

Research and Experience Papers as well as Reproducibility Studies should be at most 10 pages in length, with at most 2 additional pages for references. The ACM styles have changed recently, and all authors should use the official “2017 ACM Master article template”, as can be obtained from the ACM Proceedings Template pages.

Latex users should use the “sigconf” option, as well as the “review” (to produce line numbers for easy reference by the reviewers) and “anonymous” (omitting author names) options. To that end, the following latex code can be placed at the start of the latex document:

\documentclass[sigconf,review, anonymous]{acmart}
\acmConference[ISSTA 2020]{ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis}{18–22 July, 2020}{Los Angeles, US}

Submit your papers via the EasyChair ISSTA 2020 submission website.

Double-blind Reviewing

ISSTA 2020 will conduct double-blind reviewing. Submissions should not reveal the identity of the authors in any way. Authors should leave out author names and affiliations from the body of their submission. They should also ensure that any citations to related work by themselves are written in third person, that is, “the prior work of XYZ” as opposed to “our prior work”. More details are available at the Double-Blind Reviewing page. Authors with further questions on double-blind reviewing are encouraged to contact the Program Chair by email.

Supplementary Material

Authors are free to provide supplementary material if that material supports the claims in the paper. Such material may include proofs, experimental results, and/or data sets. This material should be uploaded at the same time as the submission. Any supplementary material must also be anonymized. Reviewers are not required to examine the supplementary material but may refer to it if they would like to find further evidence supporting the claims in the paper.

Reviews and Responses

Reviewing will happen in two phases. In Phase 1, each paper will receive three reviews, followed by an author response. Depending on the response, papers with negative reviews might be rejected early at this point. Other papers will proceed to Phase 2, at which they might receive additional reviews where necessary, to which authors can respond in a second author-response phase.

Submission Policies

Papers submitted for consideration to any of the above call for papers should not have been already published elsewhere and should not be under review or submitted for review elsewhere during the duration of consideration. Specifically, authors are required to adhere to the ACM Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism and the ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions. All submissions are subject to the ACM Author Representations policy.

All submissions must be in English and in PDF format. Papers must not exceed the page limits that are listed for each call for papers.

The conference will use the iThenticate plagiarism detection software to screen submissions and will follow the ACM Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism. To prevent double submissions, the Program Chair will compare the submissions with related conferences that have overlapping review period. Possible violations will be reported to ACM for further investigation.

Submission Format

The ACM styles have changed recently, and all authors should use the official “2017 ACM Master article template”, as can be obtained from the ACM Proceedings Template pages.

Latex users should use the “sigconf” option, as well as the “review” (to produce line numbers for easy reference by the reviewers) and “anonymous” (omitting author names) options. To that end, the following latex code can be placed at the start of the latex document:

\documentclass[sigconf,review, anonymous]{acmart}
\acmConference[ISSTA 2020]{ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis}{18–22 July, 2020}{Los Angeles, US}

Accepted Contributions

All authors of accepted papers will be asked to complete an electronic ACM Copyright form and will receive further instructions for preparing their camera ready versions.

All accepted contributions will be published in the conference electronic proceedings and in the [ACM Digital Library](ACM Digital Library).

Note that the official publication date is the date the proceedings are made available in the ACM Digital Library. This date may be up to two weeks prior to the first day of ISSTA 2020. The official publication date affects the deadline for any patent filings related to published work.

The names and ordering of authors as well as the title in the camera ready version cannot be modified from the ones in the submitted version unless there is explicit approval from the Program Chair.

At least one author of each accepted paper must register and present the paper at ISSTA 2020 in order for the paper to be published in the proceedings. One-day registrations or student registrations do NOT satisfy the registration requirement, except the SRC and Doctoral track, for which student registrations suffice.

Double-Blind Reviewing

More details are available at the Double-Blind Reviewing page.