Industry Mentor


I’m the RE Mentor for authors of industry papers and I’m here to encourage you to consider submitting a paper, and to help you with the process.

You might ask how I am qualified to be the RE Mentor for Industry papers. I suppose you could say that I am a seasoned requirements practitioner and a long-time contributor to the RE conference series. I have attended all but one RE conference since 2004. I have been on the Industry Committee (responsible for reviewing papers) for longer than I can remember. I was Industry Chair in 2013 and Industry Lab Chair in 2014. In addition to my association with the RE conference, I also have a track record of publications at RE, other conferences and elsewhere. However, like almost all successful authors of conference papers, I have also had papers rejected. I know painful it can be to have a paper rejected. I can also remember how challenging it seemed when attempting to write that first paper. If you are considering submitting your first industry paper, I am here to answer your questions.

My advice to first time submitters is as follows:

  1. consider collaborating (it is much easier to write with a co-author);
  2. start with a simple outline.
  3. get early feedback (like with one of us mentors) so you don't waste time going in the wrong direction;
  4. keep your sentences short;
  5. make sure your paper has a narrative; and
  6. ensure your conclusions are clearly stated.

I now quote, with some updates to be applicable now, some advice about submitting papers to conferences and about good and bad industrial papers that were offered by Sarah Gregory, the previous person in this role of RE Mentor for industry papers, for RE'16.

"If you're reading this page, you are perhaps considering submitting a paper to the Industry Track of the RE'17 conference. I am the Mentor Coordinator for Industry authors for RE'17, and I'm quite happy that you're considering taking a step to submit a paper! Requirements practitioners working in industry often face challenges when it comes to considering, preparing, and submitting a paper to research conferences, but our mentoring program is in place to help you overcome at least some of those obstacles, and to encourage and advise you as you undertake this effort.

Papers that are submitted to the Industry track of the RE conference often approach requirements questions from a distinct perspective — that of the person working to take the best-known methods and time-honored practices of requirements engineering and putting them into practice, where reality may often trump the very best process, tool, or theory. Authors of these papers include practitioners as well as researchers who have spent significant time working in industry or partnering with practitioners as well. Our Industry Chairs have provided a variety of possible topics in the Call for Papers, within this year’s theme, "Desperately Seeking Less": The Role of Simplicity and Complementarity in Requirements. This year, the Industry Co-Chairs invite submissions of high-quality papers in the following categories: + Problem statements present problems or challenges encountered in practice. + Experience reports present successes or failures encountered in practice. + Vision papers describe the future evolution of the field as perceived by industry practitioners.

“High-quality papers” can seem daunting, especially to industry practitioners who may be more familiar with conferences where a short description of an intended presentation might be enough to gain entry. It needn’t be overwhelming! If you’ve worked in RE in industry, you certainly have encountered problems or challenges, and you’ve enjoyed successes, and — well, if you’re like the rest of us — failures as well. (And if every RE effort you’ve been a part of has been a resounding success, with no challenges, problems, and not a single failure, THAT is a paper we all want to read!) Or perhaps your experiences have led you to ponder, “There has to be a better way …” — and to try something new! As someone who has done RE work in industry, you already have the hardest work on your paper behind you. I’m here to help you solve the mystery of how to take your practical experience or evolutionary ideas about requirements engineering and translate it into that high-quality paper that you are pleased to send before the reviewers.

Still interested in submitting a paper? Great! Start by taking a look at what’s been presented before, if you’ve not seen a research conference paper before. Papers from RE'16 are available online, and you can easily sort and retrieve examples of Industry papers (You may have to click on the 'Industry' button). Find one that looks interesting, download it, and read it. Note the format, the abstract, the citations. The IEEE formatting instructions will help you with the mechanics of crafting your paper.

My last bits of general advice — start NOW, and collaborate! Abstracts are due on Friday, February 10, 2017, and full papers a week later, on Friday, February 17, 2017. High-quality papers (like high-quality requirements!) aren’t written overnight, and they are rarely of exceptional quality until they’ve been rigorously reviewed. Co-authors are not only welcome, but encouraged! Watch the deadlines carefully, and reach out soon to me if you’d like to talk with a mentor about how to get started.

Good luck, and all my best as you work on your paper for RE'17."

Industry Mentor

Alistair Mavin
Rolls-Royce, UK