The author’s advocate is a new role in the ACM MM conference. His/her role is to listen to the authors, and to help them if reviews are clearly below average quality. The author’s advocate has no special training in psychology or anger management, and his role is not to handle the disappointment of the authors of the 75% submitted papers that will be rejected. The author’s advocate will not handle cases in which the authors have a different opinion from the reviewer (that is exactly, what rebuttals are for). As an experiment in this year’s ACM MM, the author’s advocate will only handle requests for mediation for long papers.
Authors can request the mediation of the author’s advocate after the reviews (the meta-review and the “invitation” for rebuttal) have been sent to them. The authors have to clearly justify the reasons why such mediation is needed (the reviews were below average quality or the meta-review was below average quality). The authors should provide facts, and not opinions (e.g., an opinion is that it was a bad review or that the author do not agree with a reviewer, a fact is that the review was 2 lines long). A mediation request is not the same as a rebuttal. The rebuttal is intended as a discussion forum between the authors and the reviewers, a mediation request is a formal complain about the quality of a review.
Mediation requests can be done after reviews have been sent. Requests after the specified period will be discarded. A specific form, in which the authors justify their case, will be provided. When a mediation request is received, the authors’ advocate will evaluate the case and take a decision. The decision might be to take an action by contacting the corresponding area chair or the program chairs (in which case, a new review for the article might be requested) or to take no action (in case the request is unjustified or the request is just another rebuttal). In all the cases, the decision will be informed to the author, when the final decisions are sent.
Hopefully, mediation from the author’s advocate will not be needed, as this will mean that the different quality control mechanisms have been successfully implemented this year.