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As we enter 2011, the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence ( TPAMI) continues to be in excellent shape, despite the various challenges that all scientific journals face in the current economic environment.
The workload involved in administering the journal is substantial, and it has been clear for some time that additional help is needed to keep the process flowing smoothly. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Sing Bing Kang has agreed to join Zoubin Gharamani and Jiri Matas as an Associate Editor in Chief. Sing Bing was enthusiastically recommended by the TPAMI advisory board; he has served with distinction as a TPAMI Associate Editor (AE), and helped run CVPR smoothly in 2009. Sing Bing will help in all aspects of the editorial review process, but I expect that his primary role will be in ensuring that the review process runs in a timely manner, despite the fact that all of the researchers involved are volunteers with many other time commitments. Sing Bing claims that the name of Microsoft’s search engine is merely coincidentally related to his own; I will leave the TPAMI readership to evaluate this assertion for themselves.
The main intellectual challenge that TPAMI faces lies in the area of machine learning, where there is an imbalance between the number of papers we receive and the number of AEs and reviewers who can handle them. The IEEE does not have a journal whose focus is modern machine learning methods, such as SVMs. However, for a variety of reasons many papers in this area are submitted to TPAMI. One factor is that machine learning falls within TPAMI’s scope statement, but perhaps a more important reason is the journal’s excellence in computer vision, an area where the impact of machine learning is substantial. However, as a result of this imbalance in the reviewing community, sometimes the turnaround time for machine learning papers can be longer than we hope. This is a challenge I am actively looking to address. Professor Daphne Koller has kindly agreed to join the TPAMI advisory board, and I am sure that she will provide valuable advice in this area.
The main operational issue that we all face is the continued delay in print publication (papers are published online quite quickly after acceptance). As a short term measure we have again increased the page budget, with support from the PAMI-TC thanks to its chair, Professor Sudeep Sarkar. TPAMI will again publish a special issue on the best papers from CVPR10, just as from CVPR07, CVPR08, and CVPR09. Unfortunately, because of our limited page budget, we can publish very few other special issues, and I have been forced to decline a number of otherwise appealing proposals. In addition, the page limit forces us to be quite selective about the papers we publish, and we have made an effort to modestly tighten TPAMI’s acceptance criteria.
While the reviewing process on the whole is fairly timely, exceptions do occur for a variety of reasons, and I want to yet again apologize to the authors whose papers lag in the reviewing process. To provide some numbers, there were 860 submissions in 2009, and we are on track for a similar number in 2010 with 834 received as I write. The typical time from submission to final decision is about six months, which is unchanged from last year. Due to the combination of the slightly tighter acceptance standards and the additional page budget, we expect that the print queue will be significantly reduced over the coming year.
One change in TPAMI policy has been a relaxation of the rule concerning overlap with conference publications. Under the new guidelines, we continue to expect a substantial revision, but this requirement is interpreted on a case-by-case basis with appropriate deference to the author’s viewpoint. Authors with questions about this topic should contact me directly, but I expect that TPAMI will continue to see revised versions of papers originally submitted to our top conferences.
A few smaller changes are also currently in the works. We are revising the review form to make it more similar to the ones used for CVPR in recent years, and to explicitly ask the reviewers to assess the impact of the work. We also expect to unveil a FAQ soon since there are a number of questions that are repeatedly asked. For example, occasionally authors believe that a paper which was rejected from TPAMI can be resubmitted—due to the volume of submissions we receive, TPAMI (unlike some other IEEE journals) does not permit this.
As I announced in the October 2010 editorial, TPAMI is now available in IEEE’s new OnlinePlus format, at a significant discount to the print subscription price. Subscribers to the OnlinePlus format receive electronic access to TPAMI and, on a quarterly basis, are mailed an abstract book and a searchable interactive disk. Traditional paper subscriptions to TPAMI will continue to be available, although (as for all IEEE journals) the number of such subscriptions has continued to decline. If this trend continues, TPAMI will need to move away from paper subscriptions in the next few years.
In closing, I want to once again thank the TPAMI community for their ongoing support of the journal. The authors, reviewers, and AEs continue to put in an enormous amount of work on a purely voluntary basis, and it is primarily thanks to their efforts that TPAMI continues to excel.
Ramin Zabih, Editor-in-Chief
Jiri Matas, Associate Editor-in-Chief
Zoubin Ghahramani, Associate Editor-in-Chief