On Service to the Research Community

My friend Joel Tetreault is the founder of the “Computational Linguistics / NLP Conferences Calendar”, which he maintained from 2004 to 2016. This calendar is manually and expertly curated, giving high precision; also, since Joel was very reliable about adding conferences to it many conference organizers learned to let him know about upcoming deadlines, giving high recall. Joel’s work on this saved many people lots of time and probably also led to hundreds of conference submissions that would not otherwise have been made, since researchers could discover conferences and workshops through this calendar that they might not seek out.

This is the kind of “service to the research community” that is of enormous utility without giving great glory. However, Joel is not a glory seeker – he is a genuinely helpful and responsible person. So, first of all, thanks to Joel for having this idea and for sticking with it for so long!

The point of this post, though, is not just to thank Joel. "Young scientists” should carefully consider the utility to your career of this kind of service. Because Joel maintained this calendar, he is known to NLP researchers of every level of experience and in every sector of the research community. And they know him as someone who has been useful! Although your papers and the activities you participate in at conferences will make your research name, your service (paper reviewing, conference volunteering and organization, etc.) will also contribute to your reputation. The research enterprise is built on volunteer work. So find one or two things that you enjoy, and that you can complete effectively in a timely fashion, and volunteer for those things. Be a good citizen, it will help you too.

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