Many good papers get written for conference presentations. The best of these papers tend to represent late breaking work that might have been submitted to a journal as a short research paper. Indeed, for conferences that ask for six-page submissions (such as the Cognitive Science Conference) the resulting paper is just about 4,000 words, or within the limits of what journals such as Psychological Science solicit. Indeed, as the Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Conference are not archival, more than one Cognitive Science Conference paper has been published, with few if any changes, in a journal.

The Best Of topic is intended to provide a cognitive science outlet for the best conference papers published in any nonarchival conference proceedings. For papers presented at the annual Cognitive Science Conference, the selection rule is simple. To be invited for the Best Of topic of topiCS a paper has to be doubly reviewed. First, it must pass the test of being accepted for lecture presentation at the annual conference (in recent years just 32% of the submitted papers have achieved this criterion). Second, it has had to been selected for one of the Best Paper awards. A third criterion is that the authors do not plan to expand the conference paper and to submit the longer version to another journal; that is, as topiCS is an archival journal, the normal rules of prior publication apply.

For the inaugural issue of topiCS, three, prize-winning, CogSci2008 papers have met all three of our criteria. The first is an excellent paper by Gideon Borensztajn, Willem Zuidema, and Rens Bod (all from the U of Amsterdam), Children’s grammars grow more abstract with age—Evidence from an automatic procedure for identifying the productive units of language. This paper won the annual Computational Modeling Prize for best Applied Cognition paper. The second paper by Pernille Hemmer and Mark Steyvers (UC, Irvine) provides A Bayesian Account of Reconstructive Memory. This paper won the annual Computational Modeling Prize for best Higher-level Cognition paper. Our third Best Of, by Ron Salden (CMU), Vincent Aleven (CMU), and Alexander Renkl (U of Freiburg), Worked Examples and Tutored Problem Solving: Redundant or Synergistic Forms of Support? won the Cognition and Student Learning Prize.

The Best Of category is intended to reach out to researchers who present cognitive science work at any conference, not just the Cognitive Science Society conference. A pre-requisite for such Best Of candidates is that the conference proceedings in which the paper is published not be considered archival by the society that published it. Obviously, the selection criterion will have to be a bit different for such work and a more traditional review process may be called for. We will work with the nominators, authors (when different from the nominators), and our Associate Editors to develop appropriate criteria for a timely review and consideration of each such paper.