I Never get the Good One’s! How many Paper to Review?

I never get the good papers for review.

If this thought has ever crossed your mind, you are probably not alone. Good conferences in the HCI field typically accept only 20-25% of the papers submitted for review.

So how many papers to accept for review

… to review at least one good one?

It may seem obvious: the number should depend on the acceptance rate of the conference: 4 papers for 25%, 5 papers for 20%, 6 papers for 16.6%.

So, you are doing this already, and you still seem to get only the to-be-rejected ones?

This is, because probability computation does not always follow the intuitive approach.

Compute by rejection rate

The key is to compute by rejection rates and multiply them per paper.

If you review one paper from a conference with 20% acceptance rate, it’s likelihood to be rejected is 80%.
For two papers from the same conference, the likelihood that both are rejected is 80% * 80% = 64%. (not 60%, as what our intuition might tell us)

The row continues:

  • three papers = 51.2%
  • four papers = 41.0%
  • five papers = 32.8%

So, even if you review five papers in this conference, the likelihood is 32.8% that all of them will be rejected.
See the diagram below for different acceptance rates (25%, 20%, 15%).

Likelihood of Reviewing Accepted Paper by Acceptance Rate of a Conference
Likelihood of Reviewing Accepted Paper by Acceptance Rate of a Conference


So, how many papers to accept for review?

If you want to have a 20% 80% chance of reviewing at least one accepted paper, you have to accept the following number of papers for review:

  • 6 papers for a venue with a 25% acceptance rate
  • 7-8 papers for a venue with a 20% acceptance rate
  • 10 papers for a venue with a 15% acceptance rate


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NordiCHI 2012

NordiCHI is the bi-annual Nordic Conference Human-Computer Interaction. Though a country from Scandinavia traditionally hosts it, the conference attracts designers and researchers from all over the world. This year, 2012, it took place at the ITU University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

NordiCHI Venue | IT University of Copenhagen (picture courtesy of Heiko Müller)

My colleague Heiko and I found this year’s NordiCHI to be an excellent forum for exchanging ideas in a super-friendly environment. We received plenty of valuable feedback for our ongoing research on using ambient light to remind office worker about upcoming tasks. In addition, there were plenty of interesting talks in up to four parallel sessions.


Edward Cutrell et al. investigated the question of “how bad is good enough?” with respect to the quality of mobile videos. This work addresses the problem of mobile video consumption in areas where data connection is highly expensive. They therefore explored, which level of quality is still acceptable for low-income mobile-phone users in urban India. The results provide evidence that these people will accept a significant loss of quality in order to save money.

Interesting insights were that in these areas of the world, people need to “count” their bytes, which is hardly supported by today’s phones and applications. Also, Ed Cutrell suggested that the acceptance of low-quality videos depends on the user expectance. This may be relevant in developed countries, too, e.g. when people try to go online in mass events.
Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, Jonathan Donner, Edward Cutrell : How Bad is Good Enough? Exploring Mobile Video Quality Trade-offs for Bandwidth-Constrained Consumers.

Charlotte Magnusson et al. presented Context Cards, a novel, light-weight way of raising developer’s awareness about different contexts in which mobile applications can be used. Each card shows a different setting, such as a young mother with a kid on one hand, the phone in the other, while pushing a baby buggy. They distributed the Context Cards at the Mobile World Congress, the “world’s premier mobile industry event” and received very positive feedback from attendees. Context Cards are free to use and can be accessed in printable form from here.
Charlotte Magnusson, Andreas Larsson, Anders Warell, Håkan Eftring, Per-Olof Hedvall : Bringing the mobile context into industrial design and development.

Thomas Visser, in his talk “I Heard You Were on Facebook” explored the creation of awareness systems, i.e. systems that provide a subtle sense of what is going on in one’s social network. They developed an awareness system that allows recording short sound bites from daily life and share them via Facebook. On the basis of a study with three groups of four persons each, they conclude that sharing sound bites increases the perceived social awareness of the group members.
Stefan Veen, Thomas Visser, and David V. Keyson : “I Heard You Were on Facebook” – Linking Awareness Systems to Online Social Networking.

Ole Sejer Iversen et al. presented insights from participatory design with mentally disabled users, which was done for a local art museum. They pointed out that we cannot just bring our set of values to the table but values emerge and require mediating in participatory design with diverse user groups.
Ole Sejer Iversen, Tuck W Leong – ‪Values-led Participatory Design – Mediating the Emergence of Values.


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Tactile Compass presented at ICMI ’11

This week I had the chance to attend the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction.It took place in Alicante, Spain, which even at this time of the year (mid of November) can be warm and sunny!

I presented the results from a user study of our Tactile Compass. The basic idea of the tactile compass is that vibration patterns tell you, in which direction to go, so you can use it as a navigation system but never have to look at the mobile device.

In this study, we asked 21 participants to follow three routes through the city centre of Oldenburg. In random order they were equipped with the Tactile Compass, a common visual navigation system, or both. In brief, we found that

  • with the visual system the participants walked fastest, which is a sign that the users had to think least
  • with the tactile system the participants were least distracted and paid most attention to the environment
  • with the combination of both systems the participants made least navigation errors.

For the details and our conclusions please refer to the full paper.

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