Interested in writing a retrospective? Great! Here’s some info on how you can get started.

Getting started

There are three steps to submitting a retrospective:

Step 1: Pick a past paper of yours, where you have something to say beyond what’s already in the paper.

Step 2: Write your retrospective! You can use our retrospectives template, or write it from scratch. If you’re not sure what to write, see our ‘What to write’ section below, or look at some examples of previous retrospectives.

Step 3: Submit your retrospective by opening an Issue in our Github Repository. Click on “Submit Retrospective” and you will already see the default template provided in the Issue body.

Once we confirm that the retrospective was written by an author of the original paper, it’ll be listed on the website! We strongly recommend that you update your paper on arXiv (if possible) to include a link to your retrospective as a footnote on the first page, and that you let the co-authors of your original paper know that you’ll be submitting a retrospective!

There is no minimum or maximum page limit — you can write a short update in 20 minutes, or a long article with additional results, graphs, and new perspectives.

Retrospectives are written in Markdown, which is basically a text file with some simple formatting to support images and code snippets, and that looks nice on a web page. If you’re unfamiliar with Markdown, see a quick cheat sheet here or a longer intro here. If you’re not sure how to make a pull request, there are many tutorials online, for example here. If you have questions about this process, contact

What to write

What are things you can write about in a retrospective? In short, you can write about anything that’s relevant to your original paper, but that is not actually contained in the paper. See some examples of previous retrospectives here.

To give more concrete guidance, below we list three categories of topics that can be considered for writing a retrospective. A retrospective can talk about all or none of these things. Retrospectives can also be accompanied by updates to the original paper; we particularly recommend this if serious flaws were found in the paper. Remember, the goal isn’t to assign blame (including to your co-authors), but rather to reveal new aspects of your paper that were previously in your head.

  1. Flaws or mistakes in the paper’s methodology. For example, you discovered a bias in your dataset, or there was accidentally some overlap between validation and test, or there’s a weird bug that you don’t know the cause of and didn’t really figure out. Maybe you didn’t run enough seeds, and when you run more seeds your method isn’t actually that much better. Basically, any way in which your scientific methodology was flawed or lacking.

  2. Limitations in the applicability of the work. For example, you have reason to believe your approach doesn’t generalize well to other datasets, or your results are not robust to small changes in the experimental set-up. Maybe you tried switching from MLPs to LSTMs and everything broke. Maybe your classification model works better, but is less robust to adversarial attacks. Basically, any way in which your approach was limited that you didn’t realize or acknowledge at the time.

  3. Changes in understanding or intuition. For example, you have a simpler way to motivate your idea, or your intuition for why your model or approach works has changed. Maybe there are new aspects of your idea that you didn’t explore in the paper, but want to talk about, or new visualizations that improve understanding. These can be accompanied by additional (informal) results. You can also point to new work by others that is relevant to the paper. Basically, anything that you’ve learned since writing the original paper that would be useful for others to know.

Reviewing process

We want to make retrospectives open to everyone, and to require minimal oversight. As such, retrospectives submitted to the GitHub repository will not be officially peer-reviewed. We will judge a retrospective on two factors:

  1. The retrospective is written by an author of the original paper, and is relevant to the content of the original paper.
  2. The retrospective complies with our code of conduct.

Note that the criteria for acceptance of the retrospective to the NeurIPS 2019 workshop may be more stringent. If there is sufficient interest, we will consider starting an alternate publication for high-quality retrospectives, which will be reviewed more thoroughly.