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Unsuccessful submissions for EuroSTAR 2012
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(A tongue-in-cheek look at the submission, review and selection process, whilst examining the lasting testing legacy of Brett Ignatius Gonzales)
Even as the EuroSTAR Program Committee assemble in Galway to discuss the program for Amsterdam in November 2012, I have already had the purple and green rejection slips. When I turned on my PC less than 4 working days after the submission deadline I heard the dull thud as the replies landed on my electronic doormat, consigned to the waste-bin with the words “plagiarism – undoubtedly, obviously and recognisably the work of Brett Ignatius Gonzales”.
You may remember Brett had the first submission for EuroSTAR 2011, inexplicably excluded from the program schedule. After his untimely death, I was appointed his literary executor, and it took WEEKS merely to catalogue his unpublished material. All meticulously labelled, there were hundreds of EuroSTAR submissions stretching into the future. Each year had the perspective venue, program chair and theme recorded – when these details were shared with the Qualtech team via Skype, conversation at the Ireland end went very quite. They were especially disappointed that details for 2016 were so accurate. The program chair for 2017, a lady in her 40s from xxxxxxx (number of x’s not relevant) is probably correct, but taking the conference outside Europe in 2021 and the theme for 2019 (“There are more than 50 ways to leave your testing”) were categorically denied. It is significant that there was but a stony silence for the other items.
With so rich a store of material, I felt it my duty to share these with the testing community, submitting thirteen of the thirty five labelled ‘2012’. Odd details were changed – obviously the biography details – but the main ideas, themes and teaching points were pure ‘Brett’. Alas, I had ignored the possibility of anti-plagiarism software, which must be very sophisticated. In two instances, I had combined several of Brett’s ideas into one application, yet these were still detected. However, I STILL think several of the pieces were worthy of the conference on the titles alone: ‘Renovation Techniques’, ‘Clouds evolve through innovation’ and my own particular favourite: ‘Agile innovators renovate clouds’. What insight, what purpose, what originality!
Surely many would be attracted to the conference purely by the draw of Brett’s reputation, ideas and learning from his international experience. Perhaps my mistake was to try and pass these off as my own. I should have submitted them in his name! That would have sealed it. Then speakers and delegates alike would have been able to shout with one voice: “Gone but not forgotten – Brett, a true ‘great’ in the testing world”. Still, there is always next year: “Lessons learnt from Brett Gonzales”. That has a ring of quality about it.
As is usual with articles by or about Brett Gonzales, there is a battle between truth and fiction, with truth the usual victim. The selection process is underway and has been since the submission deadline date. All papers are examined by a dedicated team from across the testing community, and submissions are viewed blind – reviewers are not aware of the originator. Each application is marked for content, practicality, originality and alignment to the conference theme. Even had Brett still been alive, his submissions would have undergone the same scrutiny.
Tempting though it sounds, there is no all-embracing plagiarism software. Reviewers and the Program Committee are looking for well presented ideas, not just a snappy sound-bite of a title. If the paper has been presented at another conference, this may be taken into consideration, but will not be a deciding factor in anything like every case.
Lastly, the venue and Program Chair of future EuroSTAR events are a closely guarded secret, and the subject of much speculation in the days leading up to the conference. Whilst there may be some vague ideas about these details for EuroSTAR 2013, planning is not so advanced that the ‘details’ for 2016 could be stolen.