I submitted an article for an IEEE congress in the field of Software Engineering, the congress was categorized as a type B congress according to the Australian ranking (I do not remember the exact name). I went to the workshop sessions because my article was accepted for one of those, but not the main conference, and it was pretty lame. The reasons were the following:

  • some people were given a presentation of topics not already finished it up, with a lot of holes in their respective research
  • some people were introducing their doctoral research proposals, which were in a a very initial developing point; I have been also a conference review and I would rejected those works straight ahead
  • people attending were no caring of what has being said there, also some of the people in charge were almost sleeping during some points of the presentations

I suppose that a workshop was for sharing ideas between the academic community, and not just for the sake of accepting some bad made papers to get money while other researchers want to do the things right.

Also I forget to mention that in one session, the chair of the workshop was the lecturer in charge of one of the lame papers; I do not want to think bad, but it seems like he influence the acceptance of that paper.

In any case I am really disappointed about this type of congresses, I cannot imagine how lame it could be a type C conference.

It is always like that?

  • 3
    Is your question actually "Are all workshops bad?" Or is there something else you really want to know. – ff524 Jul 21 '14 at 21:24
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    I wasn't suggesting that you change the title to "Are all workshops bad"! I just thought you might want to understand why a workshop might be organized like the one you attended, or what the value of such a workshop might be, instead of just knowing whether all other workshops are organized the same way. – ff524 Jul 21 '14 at 21:34
  • I have a habit of picking the bad talks to see at conferences much less workshops. There are always lesser presentations at these meetings, including, possibly, one's own. I find such events better for reconnecting with your best potential collaborators and old lab friends than actually seeing new work. – Bill Barth Jul 22 '14 at 6:44

I understand your frustration, but workshops are not for seminal research. It is usually for hosting / presenting papers that cannot make it to major conferences or provide a venue for very small and specialized areas of research. This is not a bad thing. Especially in CS, papers that are technically correct and well-written sometimes get rejected in major conferences, due to the high rejection rates. In this cases, workshops provide a alternative venue to patent those results and lower the authors' sense of rejection.

Also, many research projects (in EU but maybe this applies to USA as well) have the obligation to organize workshops during the duration of the project. In those cases, it is normal that most of the submissions are from project partners. This explains the little "inbreeding" you encountered. Also, since each workshop has a minimal number of papers that should be presented, in cases of low number of submissions, it is inevitable that some less-good papers get accepted. Also, although peer review is still formal (and not blind to bad papers depending on their authors, as you imply) on those workshops, the requirements for presentation are less strict than major conferences and marginal papers might actually make it.

Are all workshops bad? No they are not. It is actually easy to tell them apart (most of the cases).

  • Are they co-hosted with major conferences
  • Do they take place for many years
  • Who are the PC chairs (this year and previous years)
  • How good are the papers that got accepted in the previous years?

All these four criteria are a strong indication of the quality of the workshop.

A general advice. Many researchers (not excluding myself) tend to overvalue their research in comparison to others. Since your paper also got rejected for the major conference, that also implies that it was not that seminal or exceptional (which is of course OK). To someone else's eyes the comments you make about the "other" papers might also apply to yours as well. So, talking about lame papers and workshops (especially if you express those ideas publicly) will not make you a lot of friends and academia is really a very small world.

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