Conference Papers – Reviewing Guidelines

This document guides those who participate in the ISMAR 2021 reviewing process and is directed towards those who perform full reviews of conference papers  (i.e., secondary coordinator 2AC, committee members, and reviewers) and meta-reviews (primary coordinator 1AC).

A. Reviewing a Conference Paper for ISMAR 2021

During the paper review process, review the paper using the following guidelines:

  • The primary aspect for accepting/rejecting a paper is its contribution: We consider a paper of sufficient conference quality if it presents a strong, tangible contribution to a specific aspect of the authors’ research. The authors can present preliminary findings if they support the authors’ assumptions, but more and complete findings are always welcome. 
  • Consider the value of the contribution and merits of the paper to the ISMAR community. The paper may be an edge case. However, it discusses a topic, e.g., currently unknown to the community or extremely relevant at the time. 
  • The contribution needs to be proportional to the paper length. A small contribution is acceptable if the paper is short. Longer papers (e.g., 8 pages) with a small contribution may require a major revision, thus, need to be rejected (ISMAR 2021 does not grant major revisions). 
  • Papers are acceptable if the authors can easily correct the weaknesses (e.g., missing references, minor spell-checking, fuzzy statements, lack of implementation details, and others).
  • Mind that the ISMAR 2021 review form will ask you to provide a single score (6-point ranking, Cf. Section F) judging the quality. Your written appraisal must support this score. 

In general, as you perform your review, we ask that you reflect on the overall merits and to read papers with care and sympathy. Avoid seeking hidden flaws. Many hours of work — in some cases, years of work — have gone into research and writing this paper. Try to avoid last-minute reviews.

B. Write a Review

The following guidelines outline the content and key points of a high-quality review for ISMAR 2021. Please adhere to the guidelines and contact the conference program chairs or review coordinators for any questions. 

  • A high-quality review should have about 1-page of well-considered commentary (at least 500 words), or even more, if warranted. Short and/or content-free reviews are insufficient and frustrate the authors. 
  • State specifically the reason(s) for the score you selected for this paper. Clearly describe on what grounds the paper should be accepted (or rejected).
  • Describe the contributions in the paper and why they are noteworthy or important.
  • Explicitly and clearly discuss the weaknesses and limitations in a positive and constructive manner. Specifically, be positive and not insulting. 
  • Your comments should assess the work the authors did and whether their methods are appropriate to support their claims. Avoid judging and explaining what the authors should have done.  

Mind that your decisions affect the public appearance of ISMAR 2021. Therefore, the conference program chairs are very serious about ensuring the highest possible reviewing standards for ISMAR 2021. The coordinators and/or program chairs will ask you to improve your review if we think the reason for your judgment is unclear.

C. Write a Meta-Review

The following guidelines outline the content of a good meta-review. The section is for review coordinators (1AC) and explains the content the chairs believe supports a decision best. 

  • Describe the primary contribution of the paper.
  • Summarize the most significant pros and cons of the paper. The most critical are often those the majority of reviewers highlight in their reviews. Abstain from reiterating every single aspect (we have the reviews for that). 
  • Explain the decision and the pros and cons that support this decision. 
  • In case of conditional acceptance, describe the conditions the authors have to meet before the paper can be accepted. 
  • In case the paper is rejected, add suggestions for improvement. 
  • Avoid adding discussion details or the score into the meta-review. 

Mind that the authors will see the meta-review with the final decision. Be constructive and explain rather more than less, especially in the case the authors receive an unfavorable decision. Very often, the research or paper was not ready at the time of submission. Invite the authors to re-submit next year if feasible.

D. Review Resubmitted Journal Papers

This section describes the review process for journal papers, resubmitted to the conference paper track, in case authors asked for review continuity. This section is directed to the primary and secondary coordinators only. Both have to discuss and agree on whether the contribution is sufficient to consider the paper for publication as part of the conference paper track. 

Note that a checkbox at the top of the submission form will inform the Primary/Secondary that a paper is a re-submitted journal paper.

  • The review primarily relies on the journal paper reviews, the meta-review, the rebuttal, and the resubmitted paper. Verify that the authors submitted a paper describing the same research (even if they shortened the paper or narrowed the focus) so that the review and meta-review are still valid.
  • If the paper was declined due to severe weaknesses pointed out in the original reviews and meta-review, verify that the authors improved the weaknesses or removed this part of the paper. 
  • Discuss the contribution and the overall merits of this paper with respect to the review criteria as outlined in Section A and Section B.
  • The 1AC and 2AC should agree on a recommendation or notify the chairs if no consensus can be reached.  The chairs will assign an additional reviewer if 1AC and 2AC cannot agree on a decision.

E. COVID-19 Situation

We are aware that a lot of researchers are currently facing major challenges due to COVID-19 with regard to conducting research. In particular, in-person user evaluation is currently, for most researchers, impossible. However, it is important to highlight that ISMAR is not lowering the publication standard. We encouraged authors to consider alternative ways to validate their results and ask the reviewers to be open to alternatives. For many works, there are suitable alternative ways to demonstrate validity.

F. ISMAR 6-Point Ranking

The section explains the ISMAR 6-point ranking and explains when we think one should select a particular score. We are aware that the decision can be subjective in many cases and that selecting between two is often a judgment call. We hope that this explanation removes some fuzziness. 

  • Definitely accept: I would argue strongly for accepting this submission.
    Select this option if the paper is acceptable as-is (except for minor edits), with a strong contribution and merits for the ISMAR community. 
  • Probably accept: I would argue for accepting this submission.
    Select this option if the paper has a valid contribution and merits for the ISMAR community. Some additional explanations or minor corrections are required. 
  • Weak accept: The paper has weaknesses but the contributions outweigh the weaknesses.
    Select this option if the research is relevant, the topic is of value for the ISMAR community, and the attitude towards this contribution is overall positive despite the identified weaknesses.
  • Weak reject: The paper has contributions but the weaknesses outweigh the contributions.
    Select this option if the research is relevant, the topic is of value for the ISMAR community, but the attitude is overall negative because of the identified weaknesses.
  • Probably reject: I would argue for rejecting this submission.
    Select this option if the research is relevant and the topic is of value for the ISMAR community, but the research has severe weaknesses 
  • Definitely reject: I would argue strongly for rejecting this submission.
    Select this option if the contribution is not understandable and the paper has no recognizable merits, or it is unclear what information the ISMAR community gains from this submission. 


Thank you for your support and work to ensure the highest-quality ISMAR reviews. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need additional information:

ISMAR 2021 PC Chairs,

Maud Marchal, Univ. Rennes, INSA/IRISA, France

Anne-Hélène Olivier, Rennes 2 University, France

Rafael Radkowski, Iowa State University, USA

Jonathan Ventura, California Polytechnic State University, USA

Lili Wang, Beihang University, China


These guidelines are based on the work of the ISMAR 202019 PC Chairs (Shimin Hu, Denis Kalkofen, Joseph L. Gabbard, Jonathan Ventura, Jens Grubert, Stefanie Zollmann) and updated for the ISMAR 2021(Maud Marchal, Anne-Hélène Olivier, Rafael Radkowski, Jonathan Ventura, Lili Wang) conference papers review process.