Workshop on Insights from Negative Results in NLP

November 11th or 12th 2020,
Dominican Republic
(co-located with EMNLP)


Insightful paper examples


Call for papers


Project goals

Publication of negative results is difficult in most fields, but in NLP the problem is exacerbated by the near-universal focus on improvements in benchmarks. This situation implicitly discourages hypothesis-driven research, and it turns creation and fine-tuning of NLP models into art rather than science. Furthermore, it increases the time, effort, and carbon emissions spent on developing and tuning models, as the researchers have no opportunity to learn what has already been tried and failed.

This workshop invites both practical and theoretical unexpected or negative results that have important implications for future research, highlight methodological issues with existing approaches, and/or point out pervasive misunderstandings or bad practices. In particular, the most successful NLP models currently rely on different kinds of pretrained meaning representations (from word embeddings to Transformer-based models like BERT). To complement all the success stories, it would be insightful to see where and possibly why they fail. Any NLP tasks are welcome: sequence labeling, question answering, inference, dialogue, machine translation - you name it.

A successful negative results paper would contribute one of the following:

Submission Types and Requirements

The workshop will accept short papers as well as non-archival abstract submissions for papers published elsewhere (e.g. in one of the main conferences or in non-NLP venues), with the aim of bringing together relevant negative results.

In the interest of recognizing the work that did not lead to leaderboard breakthroughs but still yielded useful insights, there will be an award for the best negative results paper.