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New EIC Editorial


Pages: pp. 3-3

It is a great pleasure and honor to serve as Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (TCBB) following Dan Gusfield’s tremendous work as EIC since TCBB’s inauguration in 2004. TCBB is thus a young journal, one that was a very welcome newcomer, in particular because it emphasized, as stated in Dan’s Editorial to the first issue, sound and deep methodological papers, thorough experiments and implementation discussion, and serious application of the methods developed that could potentially lead to new biological discoveries. With time, all three aspects were expected to be present in a typical paper. This, together with a stress on theoretical rigor and real innovation in relation to previously published ideas and methods, was the initial vision of TCBB and of its first EIC that I feel essential to continue implementing. Obviously, each paper will be more or less balanced in terms notably of its contribution to biology, which may perhaps be a more long-term bet in the case of some papers. This appears fully acceptable if justified by the authors.

At the current time, TCBB accepts original research articles, expanded journal versions of papers from recent conferences (as regular papers or in special issues or sections of the journal), as well as research and literature reviews and surveys, appropriate tutorials, “vision statements,” and letters to the editor. TCBB has, however, so far had little occasion to publish, in particular, surveys or tutorials, which as EIC I would like to actively encourage. The field continues growing and changing almost by the day and as researchers we often feel a lack of solid, detailed, and critical information on new areas of investigation of interest to our community. In-depth surveys and tutorials may help put the underlying issues of such new areas on a sounder mathematical/methodological ground. Ideally, those papers could come in the form of a dialog between a biologist, a computer scientist or mathematician, and a computational biologist, or they could be the product of one or more representative(s) of the latter type of researcher. The survey or tutorial could appear in the form of a single paper or of a series of papers in one or more successive issues.

Although the field has been changing at a very quick pace, old topics continue being addressed in a number of papers. This is perfectly acceptable as many such topics remain largely open. However, papers that address old problems should also introduce some real innovation either in the way of formalizing and thus solving the problems or in their methodological resolution and thus in the biological results obtained or obtainable. In the same vein but with a slightly different spirit, papers that experimentally and critically survey, in an exhaustive manner, available methods on old, as well as on newer, topics (model, theory, implementation, and results) and thus help revise old assumptions and show new paths to explore are welcome; indeed, such papers are encouraged. They are indeed critical at some periods in science to clarify whole areas of investigation and open ground for substantially new progress.

Despite its young age, TCBB has become an important outlet for research publications in computational biology and bioinformatics thanks to the hard work and deep commitment of Dan, all of the Associate Editors, and the members of the Steering Committee of TCBB. One essential aspect of this very good visibility of TCBB, besides the rigor of the reviewing process, is related to a relatively dynamic publishing system. In 2007, the entire reviewing process, from first receipt of a manuscript to its posting online, took a little over 8 months on average, which appears reasonable. However, this can probably be further improved while preserving the high quality of TCBB. Decreasing the acceptance-to-online publication time would encourage strong researchers to submit to TCBB and thus increase the impact of the journal. It would also enable it to better keep pace with the very strong dynamism of the field. As a more personal vision, and following on what to me has always appeared to also be Dan Gusfield’s spirit, I would like to continue actively encouraging a policy of reviewing that is exacting and critical but is also constructive and positively helpful for all authors.

Finally, a journal cannot gain and keep a good reputation without the active support and participation of the research community in the area. You are therefore cordially invited to send to me your own suggestions to enhance the quality and visibility of TCBB further, and I very much look forward to working with you during the next two years.

Marie-France Sagot


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