ACM SIGCOMM 2021 Call for Artifacts
A scientific paper consists of a constellation of artifacts that extend beyond the document itself: software, hardware, evaluation data and documentation, raw survey results, mechanized proofs, models, test suites, benchmarks, and so on. In some cases, the quality of these artifacts is as important as that of the document itself, yet many of our conferences offer no formal means to submit and evaluate anything but the paper. To address this shortcoming, this year SIGCOMM will run an optional artifact evaluation process for the first time.
The artifact evaluation process will consider the availability and functionality of artifacts associated with their corresponding papers, along with the reproducibility of the paper's key results and claims with these artifacts. Artifact evaluation is single blind. Artifacts will be held in confidence by the evaluation committee. While the committee strongly encourages the authors of SIGCOMM papers to make their artifacts publicly available, the artifact evaluation process is open to artifacts that are not.
All (conditionally) accepted SIGCOMM papers are encouraged to participate in artifact evaluation. See Submitting an Artifact for details on the submission process.
Questions about the process can be directed to email@example.com.
May 3, 2021
Notification for paper authors
May 14, 2021 (AoE)
Artifact submission deadline
May 17-June 18, 2021
Answering AEC evaluator questions
June 25, 2021
Artifact decisions announced
July 2, 2021
SIGCOMM final papers deadline
Note: For an artifact to be considered, at least one contact author for the submission must be reachable via email and respond to questions in a timely manner during the evaluation period.
Artifact Evaluation Committee
- Committee Co-Chairs
Aaron Gember Jacobson
Benefits and Goals
The dissemination of artifacts benefits our science and engineering as a whole. Their availability encourages replicability and reproducibility and enables authors to build on top of each others' work. It can also help more unambiguously resolve questions about cases not considered by the original authors. It also confers direct and indirect benefits to the authors themselves.
The goal of artifact evaluation is to incentivize authors to invest in their broader scientific community by producing artifacts that illustrate their claims, enable others to validate those claims, and accelerate future scientific progress by providing a platform for others to start from. A paper with artifacts that have passed the artifact evaluation process is recognized in two ways: first by badges that appear on the paper's first page, and second by an appendix that details the artifacts.
Eventually, the assessment of a paper's accompanying artifacts may guide the decision-making about papers: that is, the Artifact Evaluation Committee (AEC) would inform and advise the Program Committee (PC). This year, artifact evaluation will begin only after paper acceptance decisions have already been made. Artifact evaluation is optional, although we hope all papers will participate.
Each paper sets up certain expectations and claims of its artifacts based on its content. The AEC will read the paper and then judge whether the artifacts match those criteria. Thus, the AEC's decision will be that the artifacts do or do not "conform to the expectations set by the paper." Ultimately, the AEC expects that high-quality artifacts will be:
- consistent with the paper
- as complete as possible
- documented well
- easy to reuse, facilitating further research
Authors will be invited to submit their artifacts after their papers have been (conditionally) accepted for publication at SIGCOMM. Because the time between paper acceptance and artifact submission is short, the AEC chairs encourage authors to start preparing their artifacts for evaluation while their papers are still under consideration by the SIGCOMM Program Committee.
See the guidelines for packaging artifacts later in this document.
At artifact-submission time, a submitter will choose the criteria by which their artifacts will be evaluated. The criteria correspond to three separate badges that can be awarded to a paper. An artifact can meet the criteria of one, two, or all three of the following badges:
- Artifacts Available: To earn this badge, the AEC must judge that the artifacts associated with the paper have been made available for retrieval, permanently and publicly. Valid hosting options include institutional repositories and third-party digital repositories (e.g., Zenodo, FigShare, Dryad, Software Heritage, GitHub, or GitLab), not personal webpages. Other than making the artifacts available, this badge does not mandate any further requirements on functionality, correctness, or documentation.
- Artifacts Functional: To earn this badge, the AEC must judge that the artifacts conform to the expectations set by the paper in terms of functionality, usability, and relevance. In short, do the artifacts work and are they useful for producing outcomes associated with the paper? The AEC will consider three aspects of the artifacts in particular.
- Documentation: are the artifacts sufficiently documented to enable them to be exercised by readers of the paper?
- Completeness: do the submitted artifacts include all of the key components described in the paper?
- Exercisability: do the submitted artifacts include the scripts and data needed to run the experiments described in the paper, and can the software be successfully executed?
- Results Reproduced: To earn this badge, the AEC must judge that they can use the submitted artifacts to obtain the main results presented in the paper. In short, is it possible for the AEC to independently repeat the experiments and obtain results that support the claims made by the paper? The goal of this effort is not to reproduce the results exactly, but instead to generate results independently within an allowed tolerance such that the main claims of the paper are validated.
After the artifact submission deadline, members of the AEC will download each artifact package, read the accepted paper, install the artifacts (where relevant), and finally evaluate the artifacts. AEC members may communicate with artifact authors—through HotCRP to maintain the evaluators' anonymity—to resolve minor issues and ask clarifying questions. Authors must respond to messages from the AEC in a timely manner for their artifacts to be effectively considered.
The AEC will complete its evaluation and notify authors of the outcomes. Authors can use the time between notification and the camera-ready deadline to incorporate feedback and artifact details into the camera-ready versions of their papers. This is intended to allow authors to include the feedback from the AEC, at their option.
When the AEC judges that an artifact meets the criteria for one or more of the badges listed above, those badges will appear on the final version of the associated paper. In addition, the authors of the paper will be encouraged to add an Artifact Appendix of up to two pages to their publication. The goal of the appendix is to describe and document the artifact in a standard format.
The AEC will try to accept any kind of digital artifact that authors wish to submit: software, data sets, survey results, test suites, mechanized proofs, etc. Paper proofs will not be accepted, because the AEC lacks the time and often the expertise to carefully review paper proofs. Physical objects, e.g., computer hardware, cannot be accepted due to the difficulty of making the objects available to members of the AEC. (If your artifact requires special hardware, consider if/how you can make it available to evaluators online.)
The submission of an artifact does not give the AEC permission to make its content public. AEC members may not publicize any part of your artifact during or after completing evaluation, nor may they retain any part of it after evaluation. Thus, you are free to include models, data files, proprietary binaries, etc. in your artifact. Participating in artifact evaluation does not require you to later publish your artifacts (although it is encouraged).
Some artifacts may attempt to perform malicious or destructive operations by design. These cases should be boldly and explicitly flagged in detail in the README so the AEC can take appropriate precautions before installing and running these artifacts. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you believe that your artifacts fall into this category.
Review and Anonymity
Artifact evaluation is "single blind." The identities of artifact authors will be known to members of the AEC, but authors will not know which members of the AEC have reviewed their artifacts.
To maintain the anonymity of artifact evaluators, the authors of artifacts should not embed any analytics or other tracking in the websites for their artifacts for the duration of the artifact-evaluation period. If you cannot control this, do not access this data. This is important to maintain the confidentiality of the evaluators. In cases where tracing is unavoidable, authors should notify the AEC chairs in advance so that AEC members can take adequate safeguards.
Submitting an Artifact
Registration and Submission
Submitting the artifacts associated with your accepted SIGCOMM paper is a two-step process.
- Registration: By the artifact registration deadline, submit the abstract and PDF of your accepted ACM SIGCOMM paper, as well as topics, conflicts, and any "optional bidding instructions" for potential evaluators via the artifact submission site.
- Submission: By the artifact submission deadline, provide a stable URL or (if that is not possible) upload an archive of your artifacts. If the URL is access-protected, provide the credentials needed to access it. Select the criteria/badges that the AEC should consider while evaluating your artifacts. You will not be able to change the URL, archive, or badge selections after the artifact submission deadline. Finally, for your artifact to be considered, check the "ready for review" box before the submission deadline.
The AEC recommends that you create a single web page at a stable URL that contains your artifact package. The AEC may contact you with questions about your artifacts if your submitted materials are unclear.
The goal of the Artifact Evaluation Committee is to judge whether the artifacts that you submit conform to the expectations set by your paper in the context of the criteria associated with the badges you have selected. The effort that you put into packaging your artifacts has a direct impact on the committee's ability to make well-informed decisions. Please package your artifacts with care to make it as straightforward and easy as possible for the AEC to understand and evaluate their quality.
A complete artifact package must contain:
- the accepted version of your SIGCOMM paper
- the artifact itself
Your artifact package must include an obvious "README" that describes your artifact and provides a road map for evaluation. The README should contain or point to suitable instructions and documentation, to save committee members the burden of reverse-engineering the authors' intentions. (A tool without a quick tutorial is generally very difficult to use. Similarly, a dataset is useless without some explanation on how to browse the data.) For software artifacts, the README should—at a minimum—provide instructions for installing and running the software on relevant inputs. For other types of artifacts, describe your artifact and detail how to "use" it in a meaningful way.
Importantly, make your claims about your artifacts concrete. This is especially important if you think that these claims differ from the expectations set up by your paper. The AEC is still going to evaluate your artifacts relative to your paper, but your explanation can help to set expectations up front, especially in cases that might frustrate the evaluators without prior notice. For example, tell the AEC about difficulties they might encounter in using the artifact, or its maturity relative to the content of the paper.
Authors should consider one of the following methods to package the software components of their artifacts (although the AEC is open to other reasonable formats as well):
- Source code: If your artifact has few dependencies and can be installed easily on several operating systems, you may submit source code and build scripts. However, if your artifact has a long list of dependencies, please use one of the other formats below.
- Virtual machine/container: A virtual machine or Docker image containing the software application already set up with the right toolchain and intended runtime environment. For example:
- For raw data, the VM would contain the data and the scripts used to analyze it.
- For a mobile phone application, the VM would have a phone emulator installed.
- For mechanized proofs, the VM would contain the right version of the relevant theorem prover. We recommend using a format that is easy for AEC members to work with, such as OVF or Docker images. An AWS EC2 instance is also possible.
- Binary installer: Indicate exactly which platform and other run-time dependencies your artifact requires.
- Live instance on the web: Ensure that it is available for the duration of the artifact evaluation process.
- Internet-accessible hardware: If your artifact requires special hardware (e.g., SGX or another trusted execution environment), or if your artifact is actually a piece of hardware, please make sure that AEC members can somehow access the device. VPN-based access to the device might be an option.
- Screencast: A detailed screencast of the tool along with the results, especially if one of the following special cases applies:
- The artifact needs proprietary/commercial software or proprietary data that is not easily available or cannot be distributed to the committee.
- The artifact requires significant computation resources (e.g., more than 24 hours of execution time to produce the results) or requires huge data sets.
- The artifact requires specific hardware or software that is not generally available in a typical lab and where no access can be provided in a reasonable way.
As previously described, in all cases, artifacts must be provided in a manner that is appropriate for single-blind review by members of the AEC (i.e., anonymous reviewers).
There are several sources of good advice about preparing artifacts for evaluation. These two are particularly noteworthy:
- HOWTO for AEC Submitters, by Dan Borowy, Charlie Cursinger, Emma Tosch, John Vilk, and Emery Berger
- Artifact Evaluation: Tips for Authors, by Rohan Padhye
If you have any questions about how best to package your artifact, contact email@example.com.