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Same places, different spaces. Proceedings ascilite Auckland 2009

Editorial from the Program Committee

We are very pleased to report to authors, Conference delegates and ascilite Members generally that ascilite Auckland 2009 continues the sound growth pattern established in previous years (Tables 1 and 2) [1, 2].

Table 1: No. of submissions and presentations at ascilite Auckland 2009

CategorySubmittedFull papersConcise papersPostersReject
Full papers1047776871336
Notes: Data is at 22 Nov 2009 and may be revised after recounts. The numbers presented are lower than numbers accepted owing to cancellations and declining of offers, which occurred mainly in the category of 'full paper offered poster'. The table does not record workshops, interactive sessions and symposia: Committee received 22 workshop proposals (13 accepted; 13 presented), 16 interactive session proposals (8 accepted; 8 presented), and 9 symposium proposals (7 accepted; 7 presented). Two concise papers were presented also as posters.

Table 2: Numbers of presentations at ascilite Conferences 2001-2009

Total no. subs received**na185118153119194195216226
Total no. presentations***10412410913196152166162180
Full paps ('traditional' pres.)617660685669807672
Concise paps ('short' pres.)243138513053465969
Poster presentations191711121030402739
Notes: * Auckland 09 data is at 22 November 2009. Owing to scheduling constraints, 4 full papers were allocated a 'concise' presentation period; these are in the 'short' count. Two concise papers were presented also as posters; these are omitted from the poster count.
** The table does not record numbers of workshop, special session or symposia submissions and presentations. Melbourne 2001 numbers are from the Conference website. Numbers for others are from the printed Proceedings and the websites. There are some minor discrepancies between Programs and Proceedings, presumably due to cancellations, not detailed in this table.
*** The number of presentations is lower than total accepted due to cancellations and declining of offers.

Once again we were fortunate to obtain a large and diverse panel of volunteers for the Conference's review duties (Tables 3 and 4). With a large panel, we succeeded in keeping the load per reviewer at a reasonable level, namely an average of 2.31 papers per reviewer. After 4 editorial rejects, we commissioned 561 reviews (3 reviews each for 187 papers) and received 521 returns (93%; 40 papers were each missing one review due to reviewers being ill and other unforseen circumstances; each was checked by Committee to ascertain whether it was reasonable to proceed on the basis of two reviews, and in a few cases a supplementary review was done by Committee members). The lower return rate compared with ascilite Melbourne 2008 is due in part to a problem with one university's spam blocking measures rejecting email from MyReview, without notifying, the nominated sender. This cut off six reviewers because the problem was not discovered until too late.

Table 3: Origins of reviewers by country

Countries or city or provinceNo.%
Australia (.au)16266.7
New Zealand (.nz)218.7
Singapore (.sg)177.0
United Kingdom (.uk)135.3
Malaysia (.my)135.3
China Hong Kong (.hk)62.5
USA, Canada20.8
Other: Arab Emirates(1), Chile(1), Greece(1), Japan(2), Oman(1), Sweden(2), India(1)93.7

We thank our reviewers very much indeed! Their work is so important in two respects, firstly their formative feedback which authors need to improve their papers, and secondly reviewers and the review criteria they work to enable us to sustain our assurance to Australian authors that the process complies with the ARC's guidelines [3, 4] for Higher Education Research Data Collection eligibility. We also thank NetSpot very warmly for their hosting of the MyReview software we used for recording review panel membership, receiving initial proposals in all categories, receiving reviews, and producing ranked lists based on the completed reviews.

Table 4 continues a recent addition to our routine compilation of descriptive statistics for ascilite Conferences. Gender proportions are reasonably similar for both authors and reviewers, suggesting tentatively, at least in relation to this particular demographic, that we do not have a significant 'generational gap' or a 'hierarchial gap' between authors and reviewers.

Table 4: Reviewers and authors by gender

MaleFemaleNot det.Total
Reviewer and author gender was determined on the basis of first name, or personal acquaintance, or institutional website information. Those not identified within a reasonable amount of searching time were counted as 'Not det.' The author count is for authors of full and concise paper submissions only. Poster authors, workshop presenters and special session/symposia chairs have not been included. The authorship count is on a per submission basis, i.e. authors named on 2, 3, ... submissions are counted 2, 3, ... times. For similar data on AJET's authors and reviewers, see AJET Editorial 23(3).

Table 5, comparable with similar tables for ascilite Singapore 2007 [1] and ascilite Melbourne 2008 [2] continues our monitoring the goal of building a larger authorship on a regional basis. Table 6 monitors our longer term consistency in acceptance rates, which seem reasonable for this genre of research presentation and publication. We are mindful that the Australian Research Council (ARC) has given tentative or perhaps firm notice of its intention to introduce a system of ranking or "Tiering" academic research conferences, to help serve its Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) agenda [5, 6]. At this stage we have no information on the criteria the ARC will use to assign a Tier A, or B or C ranking to conferences such as ascilite's, or the impact that may have on a conference's international standing, though we may presume that "rejection rate" will be a factor.

Table 5: Origins of submissions and acceptance rates of full and concise papers by country

Countries or city (a)No. sub% of subsNo. acc (b)% acc
Australia (.au)10253.48179.4
New Zealand (.nz)4825.14287.5
United Kingdom (.uk)178.91482.4
Malaysia (.my)63.2466.7
China Hong Kong (.hk)52.6360.0
Singapore (.sg)42.1125.0
USA and Canada42.1375.0
Others (c)52.6480.0
a. Determined from address or home country of the first author.
b. Accepted as full or concise papers (11 withdrawals occurred post-acceptance).
c. One each from Chile, Finland, Germany, Greece
The dataset is subject to recounts. For similar data on AJET's submissions and acceptances, see AJET Editorial 25(3),

Table 6: Full paper acceptance rates for ascilite Conferences

YearNo. full papers subNo. of full paps acc*% acceptance
Average acceptance rate 2004-2009: 70.5%
* Does not include full papers that were accepted subject to revision to concise format.

With growth in the number of presentations of full and concise papers, and the expansion in the Symposium and Interactive session categories, we had to do some 'squeezing' in the timetabling of presentations. Firstly, four accepted full papers had to be allocated 'short' presentation times and we regret that necessity. Secondly, we have made a small reduction in time allocations compared with previous Conferences, by scheduling three full papers and one concise paper into each 90 minute session. We realise that successful implementation of this measure will be very dependent upon a disciplined approach to time keeping, by presenters, session chairs and conference delegates generally. In particular, presenters will need to be especially alert to the importance of allowing time for questions, session chairs will be very strict about finishing each presentation on time, and delegates who do change rooms during a session must be 'quick and quiet' in their movements.

Authors and readers may notice that the general standard of copy editing for Proceedings papers does not match the standards that apply for journal papers. This is a problem arising from the much larger numbers of papers and the much more compressed timeframe that editors face with the Proceedings, compared with a journal. However, in addressing this problem the main element very likely will have to be better educating and informing of authors, because finding more editors, or allowing more time for their work, or higher rejection rates are not attractive options for societies and conference committees generally. For our part, we hope to prepare more detailed advice for authors and reviewers, for later publication via ascilite channels, being very hard up against today's deadlines! [2]
The reason for the above quotation of a full paragraph from the Proceedings ascilite Melbourne 2008 Editorial [2] is that in 2009 we have encountered the same problems, at an increased intensity and volume. However, we should emphasise that the copy editing stage is only one of many stages that are under pressure in the conduct of the academic program aspect of conducting a conference. We suggest that ascilite and future Conference committees be especially conscious of the need to deploy an increasing number of volunteers to conduct publicity, review panel formation, the review process, author advice processes, copy editing of revised versions, assembly of the Program Booklet, and mounting of files for the Proceedings website.

Notwithstanding these kinds of strains that arise with the growth of the ascilite Conference, we feel very privileged to have worked with such a large number of authors, reviewers and Committee members over the past few years. As we look towards moving on from a Second Life to a Second Retirement, we see a great reward, for all concerned as well as ourselves, in the way that the ascilite Conference series has maintained balance, fidelity, mobility and momentum (to paraphrase from ascilite Brisbane 2005) upon two perspectives, or two key parts of the full picture. These are the "process" of developing persons and, on the "product" side, the publishing of scholarly research (to paraphrase again, from a recent AJET Editorial [5]). We are privileged indeed!

Roger Atkinson and Clare McBeath
For ascilite Auckland 2009 Program Committee


  1. ascilite Singapore 2007. Editorial from the Program Committee.
  2. ascilite Melbourne 2008. Editorial from the Program Committee.
  3. ARC (Australian Research Council) (2009a). Higher Education Research Data Collection.
  4. ARC (Australian Research Council) (2009b). 2009 Higher Education Data Collection Specifications for the collection of 2008 data.
  5. For a more detailed discussion, and for references, please see AJET Editorial 25(4),
  6. Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) (2008). ERA Indicator Descriptors. (p.5-6)
Data compilation: Roger Atkinson, for ascilite Auckland 2009 Program Committee.

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