Onward! Essays is looking for clear and compelling pieces of writing about topics important to the software community. An essay can be long or short.

An essay can be an exploration of the topic and its impact, or a story about the circumstances of its creation; it can present a personal view of what is, explore a terrain, or lead the reader in an act of discovery; it can be a philosophical digression or a deep analysis. It can describe a personal journey, perhaps the one the author took to reach an understanding of the topic. The subject area—software, programming, and programming languages—should be interpreted broadly and can include the relationship of software to human endeavors, or its philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or anthropological underpinnings.

Onward! Essays invites not only experienced academics but graduate students to submit essays with constructive criticism of current software development technology and practices, as well as presentations of ideas that could change the realm of software development. Practitioners who are dissatisfied—or satisfied!—with the state of our art are also encouraged to share insights about how to reform—or improve—software development, perhaps by presenting detailed examples of a new approach, demonstrating concrete benefits and potential risks.

Onward! Essays is not looking for research-as-usual papers—an essay doesn’t contain definitive validation; however, regardless of its form or topic, the essay must have “substance.” An essay may or may not have a conclusion, but it must provide some insight or compelling argument, either directly or indirectly stated; the reader should be left—perhaps after some reflection—in no doubt about the claimed insight or argument. The key characteristic of a successful essay is that it shows a keen mind coming to grips with a tough or intriguing problem in such a way that, as Virginia Woolf wrote, “it explains much and tells much.”

Long essays are fine, but essayists are encouraged to consider the virtues of short essays that deliver their points sharply and with precision. Essays as short as a single page are welcome at Onward! Essays. Short essays will be accorded the same status at Onward! Essays as longer ones.

Call for Essays

There is no limit on the length of submissions, but note that reviewers will not be obligated to read beyond the end of their interest. Final versions should not exceed twenty pages unless there are two program committee members who believe the content requires a longer essay and the quality of the writing is likely to sustain readers. If your final version is longer than twenty pages, you must re-submit it before the final deadline so the program committee can reëxamine it.

Long essays are fine, but we encourage essayists to consider the virtues of short essays that deliver their points sharply and with precision. Essays as short as a single page are welcome at Onward! Essays. Short essays will be accorded the same status at Onward! Essays as longer ones.

Instructions for Authors

Onward! essays must conform to both the ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions as well as the SIGPLAN Re-publication Policy.

All submitted papers should conform to the formatting instructions unless there is a reason founded in the nature of the essay to do otherwise; in this case, please preface the essay with the reasons for the variation.

Publication Venue Choice

This year, authors of accepted essays have a choice of publication venue. The choice will determine the template for the essay.

Onward! Proceedings Only

Essays may be published in the Onward! Proceedings as usual; these proceedings appear in the digital library. Essays published here should use the ACM SIGPLAN Conference Format, 10 point font. All submissions should be in PDF format. If you use LaTeX or Word, please use the provided ACM SIGPLAN Templates provided here. Otherwise, follow the author instructions.

Note that by default the SIGPLAN Conference Format templates produce papers in 9 point font. If you are formatting your paper using LaTeX, you will need to set the 10pt option in the \documentclass command. If you are formatting your paper using Word, you may wish to use the provided Word template that supports this font size. Please include page numbers in your submission. Setting the preprint option in the LaTeX \documentclass command generates page numbers. Please also ensure that your submission is legible when printed on a black and white printer. In particular, please check that colors remain distinct and font sizes are legible.

Essay in The Programming Journal and Abstract in the Onward! Proceedings

Essays may be published in the journal “The Art, Science, and Engineering of Programming,” in a special edition of that journal.

If this venue is chosen, the author(s) must also provide an abstract for the Onward! proceedings, which is short enough and/or different enough from the full essay to satisfy both the ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions as well as the SIGPLAN Re-publication Policy. Abstracts are expected to be short, so these policies should be easy to obey.

Submissions must use the LaTeX template of the journal. Please download the template package; a manual is included.

The template is also available in Overleaf.

Abstracts, which can be written after acceptance, must use the ACM SIGPLAN Conference Format, 10 point font , as noted above.

Submission Site

Please take a moment to read the instructions below before using the submission site (available in 2018). Note that camera ready versions intended for the Onward! Proceedings will be collected by Conference Publishing Consulting.

Concurrent Submissions

Papers must describe unpublished work that is not currently submitted for publication elsewhere as described by SIGPLAN’s Republication Policy. Submitters should also be aware of ACM’s Policy and Procedures on Plagiarism.

Page Limit

There is no limit on the length of submissions, but note that reviewers will not be obligated to read beyond the end of their interest. Final versions should not exceed twenty pages unless there are two program committee members who believe the content requires a longer essay and the quality of the writing is likely to sustain readers. If your final version is longer than twenty pages, you must re-submit it before the final deadline so the program committee can reëxamine it.

Long essays are fine, but we encourage essayists to consider the virtues of short essays that deliver their points sharply and with precision. Essays as short as a single page are welcome at Onward! Essays. Short essays will be accorded the same status at Onward! Essays as longer ones.