Peer Review—Magazines



IEEE Software Editing Philosophy

This document aims to alert authors to IEEE Software's 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 Software is a technical, peer-reviewed publication, the staff must be 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 his or her article's technical veracity. Therefore, the editing process at IEEE Software is truly collaborative.

Over the years, IEEE Software's 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've 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 Software, 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 your assigned 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 2 to 3 paragraphs, to capture readers' interest quickly.

    • Break out background material, related work, and (sometimes) extended examples and terminology into sidebars (each presented 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 15 most relevant works.

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

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

    •  Use active voice. The staff editor will often recast passive voice to active. In the process, he or she will try to determine the agent in a sentence from the context and then ask you to verify that it's 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 on terms that the editor isn't certain readers will understand within your article's context.

    •  Avoid introducing a new acronym when English will suffice, especially if you rarely use the acronym 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 readers involved in the article, so it's 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's 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 Software staff with any questions or concerns.


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IEEE Computer Society Publications Office
10662 Los Vaqueros Circle
Los Alamitos, CA 90720-1314
Phone: +1 714 821 8380; Fax: +1 714 821 4010

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