Broadening Our Call for Participation to ICLR 2022

By ICLR 2022 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Co-Chairs, Rosanne Liu and Krystal Maughan

In 2022, in an effort to broaden the diversity of the pool of participants to ICLR 2022, we are starting a program specifically assisting underrepresented, underprivileged, independent, and particularly first-time ICLR submitters. We hope this program can help create a path for prospective ICLR authors—who would not otherwise have considered participating in, or working on a submission to ICLR—to join the ICLR community, find project ideas, collaborators, mentorship and computational support throughout the submission process, and establish valuable connections and first-hand training during their early career.

Our goal is to provide underrepresented minorities, especially first-timers, and independent researchers, a taste of first-hand research experiences within a community, and a clear target to work towards. For that we need experienced researchers to join this program to provide starter ideas, ongoing feedback, lightweight mentorship, all the way to fully engaged collaboration. 

To this end, we are starting the CoSubmitting Summer (CSS) program that will begin today on August 11th and will run for an intensive 8 weeks until the October 5th submission deadline for the ICLR 2022, with an option to extend for 4 more months until close to the ICLR 2022 conference date. Successful projects will be showcased in a dedicated CSS workshop at ICLR, with an option that some of them, completed within 8 weeks, will be submitted to ICLR to be considered as full papers.

Throughout the program, participants, both first-time and experienced submitters, will gather in groups online and work together to discuss and, if they so choose, collaborate on a paper for submission, based on aligned topics of research interest. 

There are five phases of the CoSubmitting Summer (CSS) program:

  • Phase 1 (August 11 – August 25): idea gathering and proposal writing. This phase has no gatekeeping. Anyone who’s interested can join our Slack, brainstorm a research topic, form an initial team, and write a proposal about the research project. The only requirement is that to be qualified for the ensuing phases, each proposal should contain at least one teammate that comes from a historically disadvantaged, underrepresented, or underprivileged background. Independent researchers (i.e. those without a research employment or formal research affiliation) and first-time submitters are also considered qualified. Meanwhile, experienced researchers are asked to contribute starter ideas in the Request-for-Plot (RFP) format, to help researchers get started. Further details on the proposal will be shared on the CSS Slack.

  • Phase 2 (August 25 – August 30): team selection and initial mentorship matching. After a light review, mainly to ensure that proposals meet our minimum diversity requirement, qualified proposals are selected and assigned a CSS team number. CSS teams will be qualified to receive starter computational support and a stipend to cover project needs (e.g. travel expenses for in-person meetings). CSS teams are committed to report progress and present intermediate results at our weekly centralized research meetings for three consecutive weeks. Experienced submitters can join this stage to take an overview of all existing teams and projects and choose to give feedback, help shape, or officially join a team to help with the submission.

  • Phase 3 (August 30 – October 5, with an option to extend to April next year): decentralized project meetings within teams. Each team can freely decide its meeting cadence and working style. No global control is necessary, after this point, although global support remains open. 

  • Phase 4 (October 5): submit to ICLR 2022!

  • Phase 5 (November 2021 – April 2022): rest, relax, and regroup to submit to the CSS workshop.

We recruit two types of participants to engage in this program:

  • Prospective submitters: those who have never submitted to ICLR or similar conferences before. We expect them to lead or co-lead this submission, as this gives them the necessary first-hand experience of research. 
  • Experienced submitters: those who have experiences submitting to ICLR or similar venues. We expect them to serve as allies, mentors, and/or supporting collaborators in this program. They can join as late as Phase 2 or 3 in the program.

We also recruit volunteers (can be either prospective or experienced submitters) that help us ensure a smooth running of the program.

Our intention is for these groups to engage in thoughtful discussions and diverse perspectives, while providing opportunities for collaboration.

This is our first year in running this program. If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, please join our Slack (essential if you are joining Phase 1), and/or fill out this form (more for those who are more comfortable communicating via email, and/or those that are joining later phases, although Phase 1 participants are more than welcome to fill the form too). 

ICLR supports efforts to increase diversity, inclusion and the participation of traditionally underrepresented individuals in STEM. We strongly encourage participants from these groups to apply.

We thank Katja Hofmann, Emtiyaz Khan, Sebastian Ruder, Pablo Samuel Castro, Sara Hooker, Jane Wang and Marc Deisenroth for feedback on earlier drafts of this post.