[IPOL discuss] Handbook for Reviwers: your feedback required! :)

Jean-Michel Morel morel at cmla.ens-cachan.fr
Mon Feb 20 22:11:03 CET 2012

Dear Daniel,

I am rather opposed to pile up a long list of exigences and make them 
official rules for any journal. First of all, no journal whatsoever does 
so. All journals trust authors, referees and editors to play a fair 
game, which rules may actually be different for each paper.

  Indeed, each paper fixes its own rules, because it fixes its own 
claims. If a paper claims that it implements, say, the Mumford-Shah 
minimization, the referees are entitled to control that it is the real 
Mumford-Shah minimization.  If the paper claims that is implements its 
own brand of the same minimization, the referees can ask the author to 
compare to other brands and justify the choices.

If a referee feels that a paper on a basic method makes sense to be read 
by master students, he may require authors to give all details of the 
derivations. But if it is an advanced research paper, all derivations 
are not required. In short, the evaluation game must be left as free as 
possible.  Which is also to say that the referees have almost all 
rights, as we observe in good journals, and can therefore impose their 
own rule to each paper, based on the claims of the paper.

Thus, I suggest that you should rather think in terms of defining 
certain types of papers that are encouraged at IPOL, and to give them in 
as short as possible form.

For example two sorts of paper you seem to have in mind might be:

"Introductory papers on classic methods, motivating the method, 
reasoning on the underlying assumptions on images, justifying the 
parameter choices, proposing a neat implementation, and discussing the 
most illustrative examples and counterexamples, flaws and successes of 
the method". (Here it is the pedagogic aspect that dominates)


"Implementations of state of the art methods on a given problem, as 
faithful as possible to the original paper proposing them, and giving 
the community a benchmark implementation it can refer to when comparing 
to other methods". (Here it is the faithfulness to the original paper 
that matters)


Daniel Kondermann a écrit :
> Hi!
> My main problem during review currently is to understand the aim of the
> article - e.g. which audience should be able understand it?
> From my point of view it would be great if the audience were Master
> students. Therefore, the authors need to either explain all theoretic
> derivations as in a tutorial or cite documents which do this job. In
> case of some theoretically involved stuff such as graphical models,
> texbook pointers should be a minimum requirement.
> Next point is in my opinion that each implementation choice needs to be
> thoroughly motivated and/or discussed: assume you want to interpolate
> image pixels. Why using linear/bicubic/spline/sinc-interpolation for
> this specific case? "Our experiments showed..." just means "we have no
> clue and we actually don't care (here)!". One answer might simply be:
> the authors of the original paper chose it this way, but they did not
> explain why. This could make up another minimum requirement which is
> special to IPOL. It would help to identify unreflected thoughts in
> existing papers.
> Finally, it would be great to carefully list the assumptions an
> algorithm makes. Usually, this can be done statistically by giving prior
> distributions and independence assumptions. This is a difficult task as
> most publications make their assumptions implicitly and sometimes even
> without knowing it on their own, especially when they are not formulated
> in a statistical framework. A great example for a clear motivation with
> assumptions in a somewhat heuristic paper is:
> http://gfx.cs.princeton.edu/pubs/Barnes_2009_PAR/
> I think the first step to create such a Handbook for Reviewers is to
> loosely collect all thoughts in this mailing list. I volunteer to
> moderate the discussion and to finally organize the information into a
> catchword list and a rough document structure. Finally, we can jointly
> create the actual document.
> As the ECCV deadline is drawing near, I have to take care not to do too
> much, but I would guess that we should now discuss this topic (any
> reviewers with their experiences and thoughts here?) and see that we can
> create the first draft in about a month or so.
> Cheers,
> Daniel
> Am 17.02.2012 11:13, schrieb Nicolas Limare:
>> Hi,
>>> I just noticed there is a IEEE Standard for Software Reviews [1].
>>> [1]: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/mostRecentIssue.jsp?punumber=5362
>>> (Google "1028-1997, IEEE Standard for Software Reviews" for PDF)
>> I didn't know of this standard. I found a revised version, named
>> IEEE Standard 1028-2008. Look for "1028-2008 BASKENT" in Google for a
>> good quality PDF.
>> I quickly read it (I quote some passages at the end of this
>> message). It describes review teams, procedures, meetings,
>> documentation and reports, but not how reviewers should perform their
>> task. So, as a whole, I think this standard is not adapted to the
>> peer-reviews performed on software in a research journal.
>> For the moment, we have no "Reviewer Handbook". Such document would be
>> helpful because reviewers are not used to this kind of task, and some
>> of them do not really know what IPOL expects and how to conduct their
>> review. The "Software Guidelines" can help them, but it is not
>> sufficient.
>> I suggest that after a few reviews, veteran IPOL reviewers write a
>> short "Reviewer Handbook" to guide the new ones. This could include a
>> template for the report, with checklists and so on. This handbook
>> would be proposed to the reviewers, but not mandatory. Daniel, you are
>> welcome to propose a first draft :)
>> 8<----------8<----------8<----------8<----------8<----------8<----------
>> I found these interesting passages in the standard:
>> * It defines 5 categories of reviews: management reviews, technical
>>   reviews, inspections, walk-throughs, audits. IPOL reviews may belong
>>   to the audit category:
>>       «An independent examination of a software product [...] to assess
>>       compliance with specifications [and resulting in] a clear
>>       indication of whether the audit criteria have been met.»
>>   The technical reviews, inspections and walk-throughs match somehow
>>   too. But IPOL reviews are cleary not management reviews.
>> * Typical inspection rate is between 100 and 200 lines of code per
>>   hour for source code reviews; we have to keep that in mind when we
>>   ask for large codes to be reviewed.
>> * Software anomalies in technical reviews can be ranked as
>>   catastrophic, critical, marginal or negligible.
>> * The output of a technical review can be
>>   a) Accept with no verification or with rework verification. The
>>      software product is accepted as is or with only minor rework (for
>>      example, that would require no further verification).
>>   b) Accept with rework verification. The software product is to be
>>      accepted after the inspection leader or a designated member of
>>      the inspection team (other than the author) verifies rework.
>>   c) Reinspect. The software product cannot be accepted. Once
>>      anomalies have been resolved a reinspection should be scheduled
>>      to verify rework. At a minimum, a reinspection shall examine the
>>      software product areas changed to resolve anomalies identified in
>>      the last inspection, as well as side effects of those changes.
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