Peer Review—Magazines


CiSE

 

Publication Handbook for Computing in Science & Engineering (CiSE) Magazine


Introduction

In an effort to provide our authors with more complete information about our publication procedures, we've put together this CiSE Publication Handbook, which covers topics ranging from author guidelines to the editing and reviewing processes

Immediately below is an outline of the Handbook in the form of an annotated table of contents—it's a list of (and introductions to) the principal topics. To "drill down" for further details on any subject, click the appropriate headings below. This Handbook is a work in progress, so we welcome your critiques and suggestions. If you can't find the information you need or would like to offer your comments, please contact lead editor, Dale Strok.

1. Mission Statement

Computing in Science & Engineering's mission is to support the development of computing tools and methods as well as their effective use in theoretical, computational, and experimental science, engineering, and education.

2. Scope

Computing in Science & Engineering publishes computational articles related to any of the sciences and engineering, but most appropriately those articles whose content is applicable across several disciplines or whose content is itself cross-disciplinary. At the outset, it's important to emphasize an important distinction that colors much of what follows: CiSE is a magazine for exchanging useful ideas, not a journal for reporting primary research.

3. Readership

Computing in Science & Engineering is copublished by the IEEE Computer Society and the American Institute of Physics. Its broad, core readership consists of scientists, engineers, and educators who use computation to work in and across a range of disciplines.

4. Individual Articles

  • What we look for in an individual article

    Computing in Science & Engineering doesn't normally publish results of research as do journals; rather, we're interested in the meaning of research results and their utility to our entire readership. This constituency is less interested in "what someone did" than in "what it means to my work." To meet this goal, articles must strike a proper balance between technical detail and insightful perspective.

  • Article categories
  • CiSE regularly solicits and accepts manuscripts for several article categories. These categories afford a wide variety of ways for authors to express their ideas and serve a broad class of readers' needs. The standard category is the individual feature article, but there are also technical notes, departments in specific topic areas, and opinion pieces.

  • Peer-reviewed articles—feature articles or technical notes
  • All individual articles published in CiSE are based on submissions that have been objectively reviewed. Those we refer to as "peer reviewed" are subjected to external review by anonymous referees in addition to an internal editorial review. Depending on their scope and length, they will be classified as either feature articles or technical notes.

  • Editor-reviewed articles—departments or editorial niches
  • Some articles published in CiSE are subjected solely to an internal editorial review. Articles in this category are categorized for one of the specific departments that CiSE maintains and are reviewed by the respective department editor. Depending on their content and length, they're published as regular departments or editorial niche pieces.

5. Special Issues (on a particular theme)

  • What we look for in a special issue
  • A special theme issue is a collection of three to five feature articles that address a topic (a "theme") that has been proposed, approved by the editor-in-chief, and assigned to a guest editor for execution. Ideally, the articles collected for a theme issue as a group will satisfy the guidelines framed for individual feature articles, but they can do so collectively rather than individually.

  • Guidelines for special issues
  • Computing in Science & Engineering's theme issues start with a formal proposal and conclude with the publication of a collection of accepted articles in a single issue. All theme issue proposals are subject to the editor-in-chief's approval, and all articles must go through our formal peer-review and editing processes. The key to a theme issue's production is the leadership of a "guest" editor, so-called because this person, not necessarily a member of the CiSE editorial board, is designated to solicit and coordinate suitable manuscripts, to manage their peer review by suitable referees, and to see the issue to a coherent conclusion. Theme issues must contain a total of 23,000 words, with figures and tables counting as 250 words each.

  • Proposing a special theme issue
  • We encourage readers to submit proposals for special issues within areas of their own expertise and that are of potential interest to the CiSE community. Proposals sent to CiSE's editor-in-chief should contain the theme's title, a description of the theme, and provisional topics/authors for articles; name and bio of the guest editor; a proposed timeline; and a possible date for publication.

  • Guest editor responsibilities

    If the proposal is approved, the guest editor(s) will be responsible for several items: an external call for papers if one is to be issued, coordination with the CiSE magazine assistant in preparation for receiving manuscripts and managing their reviews, and an introductory editorial (or a more comprehensive article) that binds the individual articles together logically. The guest editor is also responsible for keeping the word count limit--it's set at 23,000 words for the entire theme section, with figures and tables counting as 250 words each.

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1. Mission Statement

Computing in Science & Engineering's mission is to support the development of computing tools and methods as well as their effective use in theoretical, computational, and experimental science, engineering, and education.

Our goal is to form an integrated community of computation developers and users in all areas of science, engineering, and education. Our objectives are to foster the use of computing tools and methods in experimental and theoretical scientific research, engineering, and education, as well as to help stimulate the development of appropriate tools and methods. We do this by publishing articles that are understandable by and useful to a broad sweep of scientists, engineers, and educators across a variety of disciplines. Accordingly, every issue of CiSE contains broad-interest theme articles, all of which are peer reviewed, as well as departments, news, analyses, and editorial comment. CiSE is published in both paper and digital forms, and accommodate authors' collateral material—such as specialized details and source code—on our Web servers. Our articles illustrate current computational applications, outline current science, engineering, and educational challenges, and describe new tools and methods that can help meet these challenges.

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2. Scope

Computing in Science & Engineering publishes computational articles related to any of the sciences and engineering, but most appropriately those articles whose content is applicable across several disciplines or whose content is itself cross-disciplinary.

CiSE is a magazine, not a research journal. Although we're pleased to publish articles about novel applications of computation in science, engineering, and education or novel computational tools and methodologies that are applicable to science and/or engineering, novelty isn't the sole criterion of acceptability. As a magazine, CiSE can advocate: we're able to proactively solicit manuscripts in areas that our editorial board deems especially timely and significant. As opposed to a journal, a magazine can be a forum for discussing critical or controversial issues. Accordingly, CiSE's articles pose unsolved problems, exploring applications of existing methodologies and suggesting needed methodological developments.

Because the scope of our target readership is wide, we prefer manuscripts that speak to a larger audience. We want our articles to reflect CiSE's commitment to building bridges between those who develop computational methodologies and those who rely on them. This commitment entails publishing material from which a wide range of scientists and engineers can draw relevance to their own work. It also entails presenting examples of computational challenges drawn from science and engineering experience that can inspire other research and development work. Such content can report research results, but it should primarily explain recent original work in a context that emphasizes its implications and significance to science and engineering broadly considered. Manuscripts that solely report details of work performed without a broader context are inappropriate for CiSE.

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3. Readership

Computing in Science & Engineering is copublished by the IEEE Computer Society and the American Institute of Physics. Its broad, core readership consists of scientists, engineers, and educators who use computation to work in and across a range of disciplines.

The bulk of our readership works in physical science, computer science, and engineering research fields that rely heavily on computation. As computing applications continue to evolve and expand, though, CiSE's readership is growing as well to encompass other scientific and engineering fields. Among our growing topic areas, you'll find genetics and other medical sciences, industrial engineering, and instrumentation, to name just a few.

A major component of our readers consists of long-time practitioners in computational science and engineering and/or educators whose graduates move into the ranks of these practitioners. But another component consists of those whose fields are increasingly impacted by computational tools and methods.

In view of this wide-ranging audience, articles in CiSE should be written in an engaging "magazine"-like style. The style that CiSE employs is intended to make the article's scope clear and consistent, for those whose interests fall within this scope, to encourage them to keep reading. To this end, CiSE has a staff of production editors skilled at working with authors to implement this style in manuscripts that have been accepted for publication based on a favorable technical review of their content.

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4. Individual Articles

What we look for in an article

As described in the sections on mission, scope, and readership, CiSE doesn't normally publish the detailed results of research as do journals; rather, we're interested in the meaning of research results and their utility to our entire readership. This constituency is less interested in "what someone did" than in "what it means to my work." To meet this goal, articles must strike a proper balance between technical detail and insightful perspective.

In general, the content of an "ideal" article should satisfy three rubrics:

  1. combine appropriate computational details with technical applications;
  2. be understandable to as wide a range of our readership as possible; and
  3. illustrate how the presented results or methodologies affect one or more arenas, such as levels up/down the computing development/application chain; multiple disciplines; science and engineering education; and so on .

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Functional details

Ideally, one-third of an article should be understandable to our entire readership, one-third to students in the article's main topic area, and one-third to those who have a serious interest in using the particular ideas discussed in the article in their own work. An article should also provide enough background material to readers working in other areas for them to find the central idea's significance to their own research. Finally, an article should outline the directions for further work such as possible extensions of the research, an application of the idea, or a student project based on the idea. Simply put, articles should serve four functions: engagement, information, tutelage, and projection.

Stylistic details

We can't stress this enough: a magazine's style is distinctively different from that of an archival journal. For CiSE, this means that after a manuscript is reviewed by referees and accepted on its technical merits for publication, the text is turned over to experienced staff editors who shape the content appropriately. We encourage prospective authors to look at a cross-section of past articles or departments or visit our Web site's homepage for a collection of exemplary feature and department articles.

Our ultimate editing goal is to work closely with the author to produce a technically accurate, timely, useful, and readable article. Our editors typically start by making any needed changes for spelling, grammar, magazine style, and overall clarity and readability. An article should be written in the active voice and contain compelling reasons, at each stage, for reading further. As a magazine, CiSE avoids many of the writing conventions of journals and transactions ("roadmap" paragraphs that state what is about to be discussed, summaries that restate what has already been discussed, passive voice, and so on) in favor of active, direct, lively, and interesting writing that "tells a story."

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Categories of articles; submission and review of manuscripts

CiSE publishes articles that fall into two different categories:

  1. Peer-reviewed articles—feature articles and technical notes
  2. All articles published in CiSE are based on manuscripts that are objectively reviewed. Those referred to as "peer reviewed" are subjected to external review by anonymous referees in addition to an internal editorial review. Depending on their scope and length, they're classified as feature articles or technical notes.

  3. Editor-reviewed articles—departments and editorial niches
  4. Some articles published in CiSE are subjected solely to an internal editorial review. Articles in this category are categorized for one of the specific departments that CiSE maintains and are reviewed by the respective department editor. Depending on their content and length, they're published as regular departments or editorial niche pieces. Those we refer to as "departments" are published regularly, in each issue, and have a scope of content specified by the department content area, such as news, education, scientific programming, visualization, and so on; those we refer to as "editorial niche pieces" are more or less experimental (and might not appear in every issue), have non-categorical content, and are observations, commentary, or opinion pieces.

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Articles in various categories are distinguished from one another by length as well as by scope. Feature articles are typically 5,000 words long and, with some exceptions, can be up to a 7,500-word maximum. Department articles are typically 3,000 words long, but can be shorter or a bit longer. Niche articles are typically 1,000 words. In all cases, the final word count includes figures and tables, which count as 250 words each. Manuscripts for these articles and any associated figures are accepted in several different formats. A complete list of details regarding manuscript submissions appears in an appendix.

Manuscripts can be either solicited or unsolicited. Acceptance for publication of unsolicited manuscripts is quite selective. We welcome unsolicited manuscripts, but encourage authors submitting them to read over the descriptions of CiSE's mission, scope, and readership before submitting. Most rejections of unsolicited manuscripts occur up front, administratively, simply because their content or character are out of scope.

All manuscripts are reviewed for content, either externally or internally according to the manuscript category. All authors must expect that after their manuscript has been accepted on the basis of its technical merit, the text will undergo a substantial amount of additional editing for style. This edit is performed as a negotiation between the authors and a very capable group of staff editors who are well versed in our stylistic tenets. This separate editing step is required because CiSE is a magazine, not a journal, so its effectiveness demands a different style of presentation than that used in traditional journals. This is especially important to note because most of CiSE's authors are scientists and engineers whose predominant, if not exclusive, publication experience has been with technical journals.

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Feature articles and technical notes

Features differ from technical notes by virtue of their length and focus. Specifically, features are roughly 5,000 words long, and technical notes are half that length. Features treat their topics with considerable generality; they shouldn't address a narrow range of colleagues in reporting "here's what I did," but rather address a larger constituency in projecting "this is what it means." Technical notes, on the other hand, can be fairly specific—they can report the discovery of something particularly useful or explain how  to do something specific.

Manuscripts for feature articles or technical notes come to us either as unsolicited submissions or in response to a solicited invitation—in an advertised call for papers, for example, or by an editor's initiative. Solicited materials are typically invited by someone serving on the magazine's editorial board or, in the case of a theme issue, by a guest editor.

In either case, an editor manages our anonymous peer-review process in a manner common to all refereed publications. Peer reviewers are external referees selected from lists of past referees or from an editor's personal knowledge of an individual's expertise. The editor analyzes the referees' reports and forwards a recommendation to the editor-in-chief, who considers the recommendation in light of the reports and either accepts or rejects the manuscript. Disputes between authors and editors or referees can be appealed to the editor-in-chief.

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Departments and editorial niche pieces

The difference between department and niche articles is largely a matter of legacy: departments are long-standing units that appear fairly regularly in each issue, and niches are more recent, frequently experimental creations that could last and become classic departments with maturity, merge into an existing department, or run their course and disappear. Department articles are roughly 3,000 words long; niches are generally shorter, and usually no longer than a single page (roughly 1,000 words).

Manuscripts for these articles are either produced by the respective department or niche editor or solicited by that person. Occasionally, an editor will recognize that a regular manuscript submission would be better suited for a department or niche. In such cases, the author will be advised about this prospect and how, if necessary, to modify the manuscript accordingly.

The department or niche editor serves as the content reviewer if the manuscript, solicited or unsolicited, comes from an outside author. If accepted at this editorial level, these manuscripts are still subject to staff editing for magazine style. If the editor writes the manuscript, then he or she conducts the style negotiation with staff editors before publication.

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5. Special Issues (on a particular theme)

What we look for in a special issue

A theme issue is a collection of three to five feature articles that address a specific topic (a "theme") that has been proposed, approved by the editor-in-chief, and assigned to a guest editor for execution. Ideally, the articles collected for a theme issue as a group will satisfy the guidelines framed for individual feature articles, but they can do so collectively rather than individually.

Functional details

The four functional characteristics—engagement, information, tutelage, and projection—for individual articles might be reframed for the themed collection as follows:

  1. The theme's core idea—methodology, focal area, or other thematic relationship—is sufficiently explained so that our diverse readership can understand and recognize it in each individual paper. This is normally the object of a concise introductory article written by the guest editor.
  2. The specific details of each exemplary topic are placed in the context of its contribution to the thematic whole.
  3. There is a place for the core idea to be treated in undergraduate or graduate curricula, and if so, there are some examples of how  this might be done via problems or project ideas.
  4. Ultimately, there should be a sense of "the way forward" from current knowledge, perhaps through illustrations of unsolved problems or directions for future research and/or development.

Topical details

A typical theme topic is an important scientific, engineering, or computational problem that requires computing for its solution, a disciplinary or cross-disciplinary area in which computing is recently ascendant, or a computing methodology in which recent developments have increased its significance to science and engineering. Preferred topics are those that deal with some unique aspect of computing for science and engineering or that include timely and useful subjects for CiSE readers.

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Guidelines for creation of special issues

CiSE's theme issues originate in one of two ways: an editorial board member conceives a topic and recruits a guest editor to create the special issue, or a reader proposes a topic and serves as the guest editor. In either case, all theme topics are subject to the editor-in-chief's approval, and all articles must go through our formal peer-review and editing processes. Here's the procedure for proposing and, once approved, producing a theme issue:

  • A formal proposal of a theme idea is submitted to the editor-in-chief, reviewed, and approved.
  • The commitment of a person to serve as guest editor is secured.
  • An optional call for papers is issued.
  • Manuscripts are received and reviews managed.
  • Accepted manuscripts are assigned to staff editors for style editing to complete the issue and go to press.

Each proposal should contain a list of possible topics to be addressed within the theme. The editor-in-chief's approval is a commitment to the guest editor to publish the theme issue, provided the approved proposal outline is followed and an acceptable number of manuscripts are submitted and pass peer review. Guest editors can openly solicit contributions through a published call for papers, or they can pre-select the issue's topics and solicit articles accordingly. Occasionally, theme issues are created by a combination of these two methods. A sample proposal is available from the CiSE lead staff editor. Please note that the theme section has a strict limit on word count--23,000 words, with tables and figures counting as 250 words each.

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Proposing a theme issue

We encourage readers to submit proposals for special issues within areas of their own expertise and that are of potential interest to the CiSE community. Proposals should be sent to CiSE's editor-in-chief, Isabel Beichl. The following information must be included as part of the proposal:

  • title for the special issue;
  • name(s) and brief biography of the guest editor(s);
  • up to a one-page description of the focus area and justification for it;
  • proposed target date for publication along with benchmarks for a call for papers (if required), the preparation of manuscripts, and the review process; and
  • a list of potential authors for at least half the articles and tentative reviewers.

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Guest editor responsibilities

If the proposal is approved, the guest editor(s) will be responsible for a variety of items.

If a call for papers is used, this means

  • preparing an ASCII, HTML, and postscript version of the call for papers (a template can be requested from the CiSE lead staff editor), and
  • distributing the call for papers to various mailing lists (an HTML version will be included on CiSE's Web site).

In all cases, guest editors must

  • arrange with the CiSE magazine assistant to have the issue entered into the IEEE CS manuscript management system (Manuscript Central),
  • get reviews of the submitted papers according to the guidelines set forth by the magazine assistant,
  • carry out all correspondence with prospective authors, and
  • provide the completed, reviewed, and approved manuscripts to the editor-in-chief via Manuscript Central.
  • notify authors that text will be cut to meet the word-count limit of 23,000 words total for the theme section

We expect the guest editor to contribute at least one piece to his or her special issue. This can be either a one- or two-page guest editorial on the theme topic (describing the overall topic to our readers) or a concise, but more extensive, review article that gives the general context where the individual papers do not. In addition, the guest editor can also contribute an article to the theme; in such cases, the paper will undergo a separate peer-review process handled by the editor-in-chief or advisors on the editorial board (that is, someone other than the guest editor or the reviewers he or she has gathered for the rest of the issue will guide this particular paper through review).

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Appendices

 

Format, word count, and style details for manuscript submissions

The publication process for unsolicited manuscripts is highly selective: relatively few make it all the way through the review process. Although we welcome such manuscripts, we encourage authors submitting an unsolicited paper to read over the descriptions of mission and scope first. Most rejections occur up front because the text is simply out of CiSE's scope.

Another general rule is that all authors must expect a substantial amount of copy editing for style after acceptance. CiSE is a magazine, not a journal, so it requires a different style of writing than most journals traditionally do.

Feature articles are typically between 5,000 and 7,500 words long; departments and specialty articles are typically 3,000 words. In all cases, final word count includes figures and tables, which count as 250 words each.

All material is eventually edited in Microsoft Word, but we accept any editable text file (usually, we receive LaTex, ASCII, .txt, .rtf, or Word files) as long as it's accompanied with a pdf so that we can match formatting. Similarly, all graphics files are eventually rendered as .eps files, but we can accept almost any graphic file as long as it is of high resolution (at least 300 dpi). We typically receive .eps, .tif, .jpg, and .png files. Detailed graphics guidelines are available here.

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