Peer Review—Magazines

Intelligent Systems


Editing Philosophy

This document aims to alert authors to IEEE Intelligent Systems' editorial standards and presentation style. It supplements other documents that describe the editing process: the magazine's author guidelines, the EIC acceptance letter, and the emailed cover letter from the staff editor that accompanies the first editing pass. Our editing procedures are also outlined in the Computer Society's Editor in Chief Manual and the IEEE Computer Society Style Guide. The latter lists our other style references, chief of which is The Chicago Manual of Style.

The IEEE Computer Society's Policies and Procedures Manual states, "CS magazines are intended to focus on the needs of the reader. These needs can only be met if the magazines are understandable and readable." Thus, the staff editors are advocates for the reader. After the EIC has accepted the articles for publication, the editorial staff collaborates with authors to produce technically accurate, timely, useful, and readable articles as part of a consistent and consistently valuable editorial product.

However, because IEEE Intelligent Systems  is a technical, peer-reviewed publication, the staff must be very sensitive to protecting every article's technical worth as the author and the EIC have defined it. There is no greater concern—the author must be completely comfortable with the technical veracity of his or her article. Therefore, the editing process at IEEE Intelligent Systems is truly collaborative.

Over the years, the IEEE Intelligent Systems editorial staff has adopted some editing practices that we apply consistently to all articles. To further improve collaboration between the staff and the author, we have codified these practices in a checklist. We hope this checklist will help you polish your article and identify any potential conflict between your presentation style and that of IEEE Intelligent Systems, so that we can resolve it early in the editing process.

The checklist covers three basic editorial goals.

1. Make sure you define your article's focus in a thesis statement in the introduction. Then elaborate on the thesis in a logical organization and maintain this focus throughout. Typically, an article defines a problem, advocates a solution, describes how and why the solution is appropriate, and concludes by putting the topic in perspective and perhaps indicating a direction for future work.

Here are some techniques you and the staff editor might use to achieve this goal:

  • Reorganize where appropriate. Often this means moving material from the conclusion to the introduction, or from the introduction into the body of the article.
  • Keep the introduction short, preferably 1 to 3 paragraphs, to capture readers' interest quickly.
  • Break out background material, related work, and (sometimes) extended examples and terminology into sidebars (we present sidebar material in a separate text box, to distinguish it from the main text).
  • Eliminate signposting ("This section will discuss the browsing tool...") in favor of transition statements to help the article flow naturally.
  • Eliminate redundant material. The staff editors will also seek to eliminate redundancy across a group of articles in a theme issue.
  • Limit references to the 10 most relevant works.

2. Make sure your presentation style conforms to the author guidelines, which encourage that the style be narrative, informal, active, direct, and lively. Every effort should be made to help the reader understand the concepts presented. You should be as explicit as possible, without talking down to the reader.

Here are some techniques you and the staff editors might use to achieve this goal:

  • Use active voice. The staff editor will recast passive voice to active. In the process, the staff editor will try to determine the agent in a sentence from the context and then ask you to verify that it is correct. For example, "the code is parsed" becomes "the compiler parses the code."
  • Use consistent terminology. Avoid jargon and use the most widely understood term instead. You will be asked to define or elaborate upon terms that the staff editor is not certain the reader will understand within the context of your article.
  • Avoid introducing a new acronym when English will suffice, especially if you use the acronym infrequently in the article.
  • Use the most direct, most economical sentence construction. This includes the use of personal pronouns ("I" for solo authors, "we" for multiple authors, "you" when you are talking to the reader). An economical, active, and direct sentence construction is the best way to keep the reader involved in the article, so it is the best way to get your message across.

3. Make sure your article is as current as possible. Use the collaborative editing process as a chance to update your article, especially if it has been in the queue for some time.

Please sign, date, and return this form to us by fax or regular mail.  Feel free to contact the IEEE Intelligent Systems staff with any questions or concerns.

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