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Guidelines for Authors

Here is more detailed information about submitting a paper to the Sixth International Python Conference. These guidelines have been adapted from those developed by the USENIX Association, co-sponsor of this year's Python conference.

Please read this page carefully. It was written to help you give your submission the best possible chance to be accepted. (As you know, the program committee can't accept every paper submitted to the conference.)

Generally speaking, we are looking for papers in a broad range of practical issues in the development and use of open computer systems. However, please do not be discouraged if you think that your paper will not "fit" the Python conference format. Some of the best papers of past conferences have been papers that were unusual and definitely not "traditional".

The key element of a good paper is that it teaches the readers something that they can use when designing or using their systems, or causes them to think about a computing issue in new ways.

Conference Dates

The Sixth International Python Conference willl be held in San Jose, California, October 14-17, 1997.

Dates for paper submissions:
Email intent:  June 20, 1997
Submissions due:  July 25, 1997
Notification to authors: August 25, 1997
Camera-ready papers due:  September 19, 1997

The Call for Papers

For your convenience, here is a summary of important submission information in the Call For Papers. A complete copy of the Call For Papers for this conference is available online.

If you intend to submit a paper, please send a short email describing the intended paper to ipc6-papers@python.org by June 20. (This step is optional but highly encouraged.)

Authors must submit a full draft of the paper to the program chair via one of the following methods. Papers should be 6 to 12 single-spaced, 8.5"x11" pages (about 3000-6000 words), including figures and references.

All submissions will be acknowledged.

Preferred Method: email to ipc6-papers@python.org. Acceptable formats are:

  • Plain ASCII text
  • HTML (a single file, with no external links)
  • MS-Word
  • Postscript

    Alternate Method: surface mail to:

    Sixth International Python Conference
    c/o Guido van Rossum
    1895 Preston White Drive
    Reston, VA 20191

    The authors must also submit via email to ipc6-papers@python.org the following information:

  • 1. The title of the manuscript and the names of the authors.
  • 2. The name of one author who will serve as a contact, his or her email address, day and evening phone numbers, postal mail address, and a fax number, if available.
  • 3. A short abstract of the paper (100-200 words) (This should be the same as the paper's abstract.)

    The final paper should be 6-12 pages in length.

    What Kinds of Papers Do We Publish

    The most important thought to keep in mind when deciding whether to submit a paper is "what will the audience or readers learn from my paper?" We don't expect every paper to report on a major breakthrough, but we do look for something new, potentially useful, and not entirely obvious. Think about how different your work is from previously published papers; it may be good work but if there is nothing new to learn, it isn't worth reading (or writing) a conference paper about it. Think about how other people might find your work useful; can they apply what you are teaching them to their own systems? And, does your work really improve upon the previous state of the art? Or does it show how other people have been confused? "Negative results" that contradict the conventional wisdom are often more important than positive results.

    Trying to decide if something is non-obvious isn't easy (patent lawyers make lots of money arguing about this), and sometimes the best ideas seem obvious in hindsight; but if lots of people have done the same thing, and you are simply the first person to have considered writing a paper about it, perhaps it's too obvious.

    The Program Committee will also be trying to decide if papers will lead to a good 20-minute presentation (plus 10 minutes for questions). Some systems are just too complex to be presented this way (perhaps you should focus on just one aspect); other papers just don't have enough to talk about for that long. On the other hand, a few rare papers are accepted mostly because the committee expects them to produce an interesting talk, but that might not otherwise merit publication.

    Again, when you are writing your paper, keep in mind "what do I intend to teach the reader?" That means keeping the paper focused on one or a few main points. Don't try to cram too many big issues into the paper, and don't fill it up with irrelevant details. But do include enough background for the reader to understand why your problem is important, how your work relates to previous work in the field, and how it might fit into a practical system. Also, provide enough detail for the reader to put your performance measurements in context. It is vitally important to provide a good bibliography, both so that you give proper credit to previous work, and so that a reader can know where to turn to find additional background information. The program committee will not look kindly on a paper if the author doesn't appear to be familiar with the current literature.

    What Do We Mean by a Draft of a Full Paper?

    You will have the opportunity to revise your paper before the camera-ready copy deadline, so it's okay to have a few rough edges or to include a few explanatory notes for the program committee. However, a submitted draft of your paper should include essentially all of your results and a substantial portion of your analysis. Please do not omit any essential details.

    How Should I Get my Manuscript to You?

    The Program Committee would prefer to receive submissions via electronic mail, but there are occasionally problems in printing them. If you have any reason to suspect that your submission might not be easy for us to print, please submit a printed hardcopy by surface mail in addition to your electronic version.

    Submissions via email can be made in several formats. Flat text files are always easy to print, but if you have any figures or graphics this probably won't work. If you do use flat text, please remember to format it neatly and keep lines under 80 columns in width.

    PostScript files are usually the best format, but some PostScript generators are quite buggy and we may not be able to print their output. For example, lots of software generates PostScript that can only be printed on Apple Laserwriters. If you send PostScript, remember the following:

  • Use only the most basic of fonts (TimesRoman, Helvetica, Courier). Other fonts are often not available with every printer or previewer.
  • PostScript that requires some special prolog to be loaded into the printer won't work for us. Don't send it.
  • If you used a PC or Macintosh-based word processor to generate your PostScript, print it on a more generic PostScript printer before sending it, to make absolutely sure that the PostScript is portable.

    We also accept HTML and MS-Word. If you submit HTML, please submit a single file containing the main text (separate files containing in-line images are okay, but please don't submit more than one .html file; we need to be able to print it as a single print job). Do not send files meant for other word-processing packages (LaTeX, TeX, Troff, WordPerfect, MacWrite, etc.). We don't have the resources to deal with them.

    Since electronic mail systems have been known to mangle mail, it is always a good idea to wrap up your submission either by using MIME encapsulation (quoted-printable or base64, as appropriate) or by using shar(1) or tar(1). Note, if you use tar, or, if your email contains any non-printing characters, use uuencode(1) to convert your email to pure ASCII characters.

    Overseas authors should make sure that their abstract prints properly on US-style 8.5x11 inch paper. Please make sure that you leave enough room for top and bottom margins.

    More Information Is Available

    Lots of papers and books have been written about how to write a good paper. We suggest that you read a paper called "An Evaluation of the Ninth SOSP Submissions; or, How (and How Not) to Write a Good Systems Paper." This was written by Roy Levin and David D. Redell, the program committee co-chairs for SOSP-9, and first appeared in ACM SIGOPS Operating Systems Review, Vol. 17, No. 3 (July, 1983), pages 35-40.

    The authors have graciously agreed to make this paper available online.

    Another helpful paper is:
    "The Science of Scientific Writing", George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan, American Scientist, Vol. 78, No. 6 (Nov-Dec, 1990), pp. 550-558.

    This article describes not how to write an entire paper, but how to write sentences and paragraphs that readers can understand. Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions we cannot make this available online or send you photocopies, but almost any library should have copies of this magazine.

    We also recommend that you read the proceedings of some recent USENIX conferences to get an idea of what kinds of papers are published. Not every one of these papers is perfect (or even great), but most of them are better than most of the ones that got rejected.

    Finally, if you have any other questions, feel free to send mail to the program committee chairs at ipc6@python.org.

    Good Luck,
    The Program Committee