IRIF lab now supporting conference publications without mandatory travel

Written by Antoine Amarilli
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IRIF  is a French research institute in theoretical computer science, whose members have been distinguished by numerous awards .

In a recent update to its internal regulations, announced publicly on its website, IRIF now openly supports the right of researchers to publish in conference proceedings while declining to physically attend the event onsite. Such decisions can be motivated by concerns on work/life balance or on accessibility, or can arise from the environmental impact of travel.

IRIF thus makes a public statement: being accepted for publication in conference proceedings should not require travel, even when conference organizers want to make onsite attendance mandatory. Of course, there are many solutions for conference organizers who want to follow IRIF's policy: allow prerecorded presentations, make the conference hybrid, make conference presentations optional, allow presentations to be given during another event, or another edition; or, of course, organize conferences without formal proceedings. It remains to be seen whether this incentive will initiate a change of practices in the community. Indeed, it would be hard for a major conference which acts as an important publication venue to openly reject such a policy: it would amount to declaring that, when evaluating submissions and researchers, the ability to travel counts more, or at least as much, than the quality of one's research. This would penalize women, young parents, colleagues from remote or less wealthy countries, as well as colleagues who do not wish to accelerate the climate crisis.

TCS4F, of course, supports this initiative by IRIF, and hopes that it can inspire other labs to adopt similar policies, and make it easier for researchers to publish without having to travel. TCS4F hopes that such initiatives can make conference publication, and ultimately careers in computer science, accessible to those who cannot travel or wish to protect the environment. 

For information, Thomas Colcombet, the current deputy director of IRIF, is also one of TCS4F's maintainers. Another TCS4F maintainer, Hugo Férée, is a lecturer at IRIF.

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