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Call for Doctoral Symposium : ACM RecSys 2021

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Event Details

* For the online version of the Call for Doctoral Symposium submissions, visit: 

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to the 15th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems (RecSys 2021), the premier venue for research on the foundations and applications of recommendation technologies. The upcoming RecSys conference will be held from September 27 to 1 October, 2021. The conference will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with an inclusive format that accommodates remote attendance. The conference will continue RecSys’ practice of connecting the research and practitioner communities to exchange ideas, frame problems, and share solutions.

The Doctoral Symposium provides an opportunity for doctoral students to explore and develop their research interests under the guidance of a panel of distinguished researchers from both academia and industry. We invite students who feel that they would benefit from this kind of feedback on their work to apply for this unique opportunity, which will allow them to share their work with their peers as well as with senior researchers in the field. The Doctoral Symposium is particularly suited for candidates who have made some research progress, but who are not so far along that they can no longer make changes in their research plans. Typically, this means that they have defined their topic and have completed some research, but still have at least a year of research remaining before completing a dissertation (in many universities this corresponds to the dissertation proposal stage). The feedback from attendees in previous years has been very positive and the Doctoral Symposium has been co
nsidered very useful in providing research guidance.

The symposium has the following objectives:

  1. Provide a supportive setting for feedback on students’ current research and guidance on future research directions.
  2. Offer each student feedback and fresh perspectives on their work from faculty and students outside their own institution.
  3. Promote the development of a supportive community of researchers and a spirit of collaborative research.
  4. Contribute to the conference goals through interaction with other researchers and conference events.

Student participants will have their extended abstracts published in the conference proceedings.
They will also present a poster of their work at the conference.


Participants are expected to attend the entire symposium, and are also expected to attend the RecSys 2021 conference. The RecSys conference will be held from September 27th to 1 October, 2021, and the symposium will be held on September 26th, 2021. If circumstances prevent physical attendance, remote participation will be possible.

The format of the symposium will be primarily student presentations and Q&A opportunities with senior researchers in the field, supplemented by one or two panel sessions to provide advice.
Student presentations will be structured to provide maximum feedback. In particular:

  • Presentations will be limited to 15 minutes, followed by 20-25 minutes for feedback and discussion.
  • Two of the symposium faculty will be assigned to provide “primary” feedback for each presenter; following this primary feedback there will be a period of open feedback from all participants.
  • Students will be expected to take notes for another participant so that each of you can focus on interacting during the discussion surrounding your presentation.
  • During the main conference, students will also present their dissertation work and plans in the form of a poster presentation.
  • Being accepted into the symposium is an honor, and involves a commitment to giving and receiving thoughtful commentary with an eye towards shaping the field and upcoming participants in the research area.


Applications are invited from graduate students pursuing a PhD project who would benefit from detailed workshop discussions of their doctoral research by a panel of established researchers. All submissions and reviews will be handled electronically.


Applications should include the following:

  • An extended abstract (see below).
  • A curriculum vitae or resumé.
  • A one-paragraph statement of expected benefits of participation, including questions regarding your dissertation that you would like to ask your symposium mentors.
  • A brief letter of recommendation from your doctoral advisor, focused on how your participation in the doctoral symposium will benefit your dissertation research.

Submit these four items in a single PDF file to PCS by 23:59, AoE (Anywhere on Earth) on May 18th, 2021.

Extended Abstract

The maximum length for extended abstracts is 7 pages (excluding references) in the new single-column format. See below for formatting instructions and selection criteria. Note that the student is the sole author of the abstract. Advisor(s) can be thanked in the acknowledgments.

Please write your extended abstract to the same quality standards as a regular RecSys submission.


ACM’s archival publication format separates content from presentation in the Digital Library to enhance accessibility and improve the flexibility and resiliency of our publications. Following the ACM publication workflow, all authors should submit manuscripts for review in a single-column format. Instructions for Word and LaTeX authors are given below:

  • Microsoft Word: Write your paper using the Submission Template (Review Submission Format). Follow the embedded instructions to apply the paragraph styles to your various text elements. The text is in single-column format at this stage and no additional formatting is required at this point.
  • LaTeX: Please use the latest version of the Master Article Template – LaTeX to create your submission. You must use the “manuscript” option with the \documentclass[manuscript]{acmart} command to generate the output in a single-column format which is required for review. Please see the LaTeX documentation and ACM’s LaTeX best practices guide for further instructions. To ensure 100% compatibility with The ACM Publishing System (TAPS), please restrict the use of packages to the whitelist of approved LaTeX packages.

Authors are strongly encouraged to provide “alt text” (alternative text) for floats (images, tables, etc.) in their content so that readers with disabilities can be given descriptive information for these floats that are important to the work. The descriptive text will be displayed in place of a float if the float cannot be loaded. This benefits the author as well as it broadens the reader base for the author’s work. Moreover, the alt text provides in-depth float descriptions to search engine crawlers, which helps to properly index these floats. Additionally, authors should follow the ACM Accessibility Recommendations for Publishing in Color and SIG ACCESS guidelines on describing figures.

Should you have any questions or issues going through the instructions above, please contact support at acmtexsupport@aptaracorp.comfor both LaTeX and Microsoft Word inquiries.
Accepted papers will be later submitted to ACM’s new production platform where authors will be able to review PDF and HTML output formats before publication.


Each paper should not be previously published or accepted to any peer-reviewed journal or conference/workshop, nor currently under review elsewhere (including as another paper submission for RecSys 2021). If you reuse non-novel text from a prior publication (e.g., the description of an algorithm or dataset), please be sure to cite the prior publication as the source of that text. If you have questions about reuse of text or simultaneous submission, please contact the program chairs at least one week prior to the submission deadline. Please refer to the ACM Publishing License Agreement and Authorship Policy for further details.


Plagiarized papers will not be accepted for RecSys 2021. Our committees will be checking the plagiarism level of all submitted papers to ensure content originality using an automated tool.
Papers violating any of the above guidelines are subject to rejection without review and cases may be referred to the ACM Publications Ethics and Plagiarism committee for further action where warranted.


Confidentiality of submissions is maintained during the review process, where only the DS Chairs will have access to the submissions. All rejected submissions will be kept confidential in perpetuity. All submitted materials for accepted submissions will be kept confidential until two weeks prior to the start of the conference. Submissions should contain no information or materials that are proprietary at publication time.


Your extended abstract will be evaluated by the DS Chairs with regard to:

  1. Originality of the work with respect to current concepts and techniques (provide relevant citations).
  2. Importance of the work with respect to fundamental issues in recommender systems (clearly identify the problems you are trying to solve).
  3. Rigor and validity of claims, argumentation, methodology, results, and interpretations.
    Clarity and persuasiveness of expression.
  4. To provide maximum feedback to each student, participation in the doctoral symposium is limited.

Selection is based on two broad criteria:

Value of the symposium to the student:

  • The degree to which the applicant is positioned to benefit from participation, including the student’s position in the doctoral process (the greatest benefit is for students with a developed research idea but much of the work yet undone).
  • The degree to which the student may otherwise lack access to a diverse set of feedback and input on their research plans (e.g., availability of local experts and advisors).

Value of the student’s participation to other students:

  • The quality of the extended abstract (as identified above), both as a model of excellent research and as an indication of the student’s potential in the field.
  • Diversity of participation, including diversity by institution, country, research topic and approach, and demographics. In general, we might limit participation to one or two students per institution, depending on the number of applicants.
  • Evidence that the student will be an effective and active participant, providing feedback to others and helping to build a research network (such as, e.g., prior experience in meetings, workshops, etc., or any feedback the advisor may provide on this).


Well in advance of the deadline:

  1. Write an extended abstract according to the formatting instructions above. The maximum length for extended abstracts is 7 pages (excluding references) in the new single-column format. Note that the student is the sole author of the abstract. Advisor(s) can be thanked in the acknowledgments.
  2. Write a curriculum vitae.
  3. Write a one-paragraph statement of expected benefits of participation.
  4. Obtain a letter of recommendation from your advisor.

By the deadline (May 18th, 2021, 23:59 AoE):

Submit items 1-4 above in a single PDF file to PCS.


Accepted students will receive free registration to RecSys 2021. Students receiving support will be requested to be part of the student volunteer cohort. Opportunities for travel support will be announced when available.


*Doctoral symposium submission deadline: May 18th, 2021
*Doctoral symposium submission notification: June 22th, 2021
*Deadline for the camera-ready version of the extended abstract: July 20th, 2021
*Deadlines refer to 23:59 (11:59pm) in the AoE (Anywhere on Earth) time zone.


Christine Bauer, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Pablo Castells, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain