ISL Colloquium: Battling Demons in Peer Review

New Battling Demons in Peer Review
Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 4:15pm
Packard 202
Nihar Shah (Carnegie Mellon University)
Abstract / Description: 

Peer review is the backbone of scholarly research. It is however faced with a number of challenges (or "demons") such as subjectivity, bias/miscalibration, noise, and strategic behavior. The growing number of submissions in many areas of research such as machine learning has significantly increased the scale of these demons. This talk will present some principled and practical approaches to battle these demons in peer review:

(1) Subjectivity: How to ensure that all papers are judged by the same yardstick?

(2) Bias/miscalibration: How to use ratings in presence of arbitrary or adversarial miscalibration?

(3) Noise: How to assign reviewers to papers to simultaneously ensure fair and accurate evaluations in the presence of review noise?

(4) Strategic behavior: How to insulate peer review from strategic behavior of author-reviewers?

The work uses tools from statistics and learning theory, social choice theory, information theory, game theory and decision theory. (No prior knowledge on these topics will be assumed.)

The Information Theory Forum (IT-Forum) at Stanford ISL is an interdisciplinary academic forum which focuses on mathematical aspects of information processing. With a primary emphasis on information theory, we also welcome researchers from signal processing, learning and statistical inference, control and optimization to deliver talks at our forum. We also warmly welcome industrial affiliates in the above fields. The forum is typically held in Packard 202 every Thursday at 4:15 pm during the academic year.

The Information Theory Forum is organized by graduate students Martin Zhang, Farzan Farnia, and Zhengyuan Zhou. To suggest speakers, please contact any of the students.


Nihar B. Shah is an Assistant Professor in the Machine Learning and Computer Science departments at CMU. He is a recipient of the the 2017 David J. Sakrison memorial prize from EECS Berkeley for a "truly outstanding and innovative PhD thesis", the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship 2014-16, the Berkeley Fellowship 2011-13, the IEEE Data Storage Best Paper and Best Student Paper Awards for the years 2011/2012, and the SVC Aiya Medal 2010. His research interests include statistics, machine learning, information theory, and game theory, with a current focus on applications to learningfrom people.