JavaOne 2011: Content review process and Tips for submissions

Guest Author

The Technical Sessions, Birds of Feather, Panels,
and Hands-on labs (basically all the content delivered at JavaOne)
forms the backbone of the conference. At this year's JavaOne conference
you'll have access to the rock star speakers, the ability to engage
with luminaries in the hallways, and have beer (or 2) with community
peers in designated areas.

Even though the conference is Oct 2-6, 2011, and will be bigger and
better than last year's conference, the Call for Paper submission and
review/selection evaluation started much earlier.In previous years,
I've participated in the review process and this year I was honored to
serve as co-lead for the "Enterprise Service Architecture and Cloud"
track with Ludovic Champenois. We had a stellar review team with an
equal mix of Oracle and external community reviewers. The review
process is very overwhelming with the reviewers going through multiple
voting iterations on each submission in order to ensure that the
selected content is the BEST of the submitted lot. Our ultimate goal
was to ensure that the content best represented the track, and most
importantly would draw interest and excitement from attendees.

As always, the number and quality of submissions were just superb,
making for a truly challenging (and rewarding) experience for the
reviewers. As co-lead I tried to ensure that I applied a fair and
balanced process in the evaluation of content in my track. . Here are
some key steps followed by all track leads:

  1. Vote on sessions - Each reviewer is required
    to vote on the sessions on a scale of 1-5 - and also provide a
    justifying comment.
  2. Create buckets - Divide the submissions into
    different buckets to ensure a fair representation of different topics
    within a track. This ensures that if a particular bucket got higher
    votes then the track is not exclusively skewed towards it.
  3. Top 7 - The review committee provides a list
    of the top 7 talks that can be used in the promotional material by the
    JavaOne team. Generally these talks are easy to identify and a
    consensus is reached upon them fairly quickly.
  4. First cut - Each track is allocated a total
    number of sessions (including panels), BoFs, and Hands-on labs that can
    be approved. The track leads then start creating the first cut of the
    approvals using the casted votes coupled with their prior experience in
    the subject matter. In our case, Ludo and I have been
    attending/speaking at JavaOne (and other popular Java-focused
    conferences) for double digit years.
  5. The Grind - The first cut is then refined and
    refined and refined using multiple selection criteria such as sorting
    on the bucket, speaker quality, topic popularity, cumulative vote
    total, and individual vote scale. The sessions that don't make the cut
    are reviewed again as well to ensure if they need to replace one of the
    selected one as a potential alternate.

I would like to thank the entire Java community for
all the submissions and many thanks to the reviewers who spent
countless hours reading each abstract, voting on them, and helping us
refine the list. I think approximately 3-4 hours cumulative were spent
on each submission to reach an evaluation, specifically the border line
cases. We gave our recommendations to the JavaOne Program Committee
Chairperson (Sharat Chander) and accept/decline notifications should
show up in submitter inboxes in the next few weeks. Here are some
points to keep in mind when submitting a session to JavaOne next time:

  1. JavaOne is a technology-focused conference so
    any product, marketing or seemingly marketish talk are put at the
    bottom of the list.Oracle Open World and Oracle Develop are better
    options for submitting product specific talks.
  2. Make your title catchy. Remember the attendees
    are more likely to read the abstract if they like the title.
  3. We try our best to recategorize the talk to a
    different track if it needs to but please ensure that you are filing in
    the right track to have all the right eyeballs looking at it. Also, it
    does not hurt marking an alternate track if your talk meets the
  4. Make sure to coordinate within your team
    before the submission - multiple sessions from the same team or company
    does not ensure that the best speaker is picked. In such case we rely
    upon your "google presence" and/or review committee's prior knowledge
    of the speaker.
  5. The reviewers may not know you or your product
    at all and you get 750 characters to pitch your idea. Make sure to use
    all of them, to the last 750th character.
  6. Make sure to read your abstract multiple times
    to ensure that you are giving all the relevant information ? Think
    through your presentation and see if you are leaving out any important
    aspects.Also look if the abstract has any redundant information that
    will not required by the reviewers.
  7. There are additional sections that allow you
    to share information about the speaker and the presentation summary.
    Use them to blow the horn about yourself and any other relevant
    details. Please don't say "call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx to find out the
    details" :-)

The review committee enjoyed reviewing the
submissions and we certainly hope you'll have a great time attending

Happy JavaOne!

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