Special Issues

September 2018

Special issue: Essays

  • Guest editor: Richard Gabriel, Dream Songs Inc., USA, & HPI, Germany
  • Submission deadline: April 23, 2018
  • First notification: June 11, 2018
  • Revised papers: July 15, 2018
  • Final notification: July 30, 2018
  • Camera-ready: August 28, 2018
  • Publication: September 2018

Papers published in this special issue are automatically invited to be presented at Onward! Essays 2018, co-located with ACM SPLASH, 4-9 November, 2018, Boston.

Prospective authors should submit their papers through the regular online submission system of the journal. An option is available for this special issue, which the authors should choose.

This special issue is looking for clear and compelling pieces of writing about topics important to the software community. An essay can be long or short.

An essay can be an exploration of the topic and its impact, or a story about the circumstances of its creation; it can present a personal view of what is, explore a terrain, or lead the reader in an act of discovery; it can be a philosophical digression or a deep analysis. It can describe a personal journey, perhaps the one the author took to reach an understanding of the topic. The subject area—software, programming, and programming languages—should be interpreted broadly and can include the relationship of software to human endeavors, or its philosophical, sociological, psychological, historical, or anthropological underpinnings.

We invite not only experienced academics but graduate students to submit essays with constructive criticism of current software development technology and practices, as well as presentations of ideas that could change the realm of software development. Practitioners who are dissatisfied—or satisfied!—with the state of our art are also encouraged to share insights about how to reform—or improve—software development, perhaps by presenting detailed examples of a new approach, demonstrating concrete benefits and potential risks.

We are not looking for research-as-usual papers — an essay doesn’t contain definitive validation; however, regardless of its form or topic, the essay must have “substance.” An essay may or may not have a conclusion, but it must provide some insight or compelling argument, either directly or indirectly stated; the reader should be left—perhaps after some reflection—in no doubt about the claimed insight or argument. The key characteristic of a successful essay is that it shows a keen mind coming to grips with a tough or intriguing problem in such a way that, as Virginia Woolf wrote, “it explains much and tells much.”

There is no limit on the length of submissions, but note that reviewers will not be obligated to read beyond the end of their interest. Final versions should not exceed twenty pages unless there are two program committee members who believe the content requires a longer essay and the quality of the writing is likely to sustain readers. If your final version is longer than twenty pages, you must re-submit it before the final deadline so the program committee can reëxamine it. Long essays are fine, but essayists are encouraged to consider the virtues of short essays that deliver their points sharply and with precision. Essays as short as a single page are welcome at Onward! Essays. Short essays will be accorded the same status at Onward! Essays as longer ones.

Submissions to this special issue must abide by the same attribution, prior work, and concurrent submissions policy of the regular issues of the journal. In a nutshell: submitted papers must present original work made by the authors, must not overlap significantly with the authors’ previously published work, and must not be under review on another journal or conference.