SIGMOD Submission Guidelines For Panels
Proposals must be no more than one page. Send your submission
electronically (PDF format) to
Joe Hellerstein by November
8th (5:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time).
Successful panels require a bit of thought and planning. Below are some
snippets of advice for panel proposals that were gleaned from recent
For any further questions, email Joe Hellerstein.
Broadly speaking, there are three common kinds of
panels : (1) debates, (2) round table exchanges, and (3) mini research
The first category is often constructed artificially, with panelists
staking out extreme positions for the sake of generating controversy
and highlighting issues. These tend to be entertaining, and hence
memorable and discussion-provoking.
If done well, the second category can be thoughtful and substantive,
but such discussions can also be dry. Even for such panels, a good
topic is one in which there are significant differences of opinions.
A proactive moderator can help a lot to keep discussion focused --
watching a thoughtful interviewer like Bill Moyers can be good
preparation for that role.
The third kind of panel is a common pitfall, and defeats the purpose
of having panel sessions. The panel organizer must be sure to prevent
panelists from burning all of the time on presentations. Note that if
each panelist presents a 10 minute talk, you can spend the whole
panel hearing talks. So it's important to keep the panelists
well-behaved. A good way to do this is to severely restrict their
formal presentation time (e.g., to 1 slide!), and promise them they
can make up new slides on the fly during the discussion. Pens and
transparencies can be provided for that purpose.
- Limit the number of participants to at most 5.
- Make sure all sides of a controversy are represented. Often,
people outside the specific area of the panel are very valuable and
provide unique insight.
- Balance the panelists between academicians and practitioners
(note that working for an industrial lab does not make one a
- Getting practitioners on the panel is often quite a lengthy
process. Start early!
- A mix of nationalities on the panel is also recommended.
Running The Panel
- Prepare a list of questions for the panel to address. Have some
more questions for the discussion following the presentations.
- Get the panelists to tell you their positions in advance, so
you can ensure balance and controversy. It's usually a good idea to
meet and coordinate during the conference.
- As moderator, make sure to stop panelists at the end of their
alloted time. The most common mistake is to let panelists run over
time, and therefore not have time for discussion at the end.
- Remind the panelists that they're not there to give shortened
research presentations. Some people will be hostile to this idea
("I just need a few extra slides to make this point clear -- it's
very important") Be firm!
Alon Halevy wrote most of this document. Thanks to Peter
Buneman, Guy Lohman, Tamer Ozsu and Rajeev Rastogi for sharing their
(updated on Oct. 4th, 2002 by Joe Hellerstein)