The IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering is one of the foremost journals in software engineering, with a long and prestigious history of publishing high quality archival papers. It has been in publication for more than 30 years and has served the community well. I am honored and proud to have been appointed as the new editor-in-chief. On behalf of all our readers, I would like to thank the previous editor-in-chief, John Knight, the associate editors, reviewers, authors, and support staff from the IEEE Computer Society Publications Office for their hard work and outstanding efforts. TSE received more than 300 submissions last year and yet managed an average review time of around four months. It is essential that TSE maintain its reputation for quality, its appeal to both researchers and practitioners, and its rele-vance in an environment which has changed radically over the years.
The area of software engineering is constantly changing and broadening as new applications and further challenges arise. There have been major software engineering contributions to application domains from airtraffic control systems to genomic research, from online auction to healthcare, from automobiles to complex financial systems. These achievements required that various deep software engineering issues be addressed and implemented. Many of the core and enduring technical problems overcome are addressed in past issues of TSE. Similarly, there are complex systems currently being implemented or planned and major research thrusts, where the software engineering aspects pose huge challenges and raise new fundamental research issues. Papers submitted and published in TSE should expose these new technical issues, describe and discuss current research toward possible solutions, and provide critical assessments through experimental work.
To be accepted for publication, all papers must make a significant contribution and be scientifically sound and clear. The contribution can be the validation of current approaches and techniques through critical assessment, formal argument or experiment; the extension of current knowledge by the provision of new underlying theory, formalisms, techniques, and practice; or the opening of new avenues of research through the identification and precise description of critical problems and applications.
The Editorial Board is the foundation upon which TSE is built. Board members are responsible for selecting reviewers, overseeing the reviewing process, and making the final decisions regarding acceptability. Board membership is both an honor and a duty. Members must not just be experts in their area. They must have excellent international reputations and be active in the community in order to identify, elicit, and encourage paper submission. Furthermore, they need to be efficient and responsible in dealing with their editorial duties.
My intention is to continue to strengthen the Editorial Board. The aim is to build up a community of Board members, with a common understanding of the ethos of the journal and the responsibilities it has in supporting the field. To this end, I hope to organize a number of meetings and social events each year at which the Board can meet to build this common understanding and ethos, to plan new initiatives, and to discuss the aims and modus operandi of the journal and the experiences, concerns, and insights of the Board members. I would hope to ensure that serving on the Board is both an interesting and rewarding task.
I plan to appoint one or two Associate Editors-in-Chief, partly to help me with the workload and partly to deal with papers that require special attention or which pose a potential conflict of interest.
The current reviewing process is essentially sound and, under the expert guidance of Professor Knight, the average review times have been cut to around four months. Papers which are out of scope or poorly written are rejected without review as there is no point putting them through the review process unless they satisfy these minimum requirements. Publication in TSE is not and should not be easy.
The focus now is to further improve the quality of the published papers, to ensure their relevance and appeal, and to strengthen the archival nature of the journal. I have three proposals which I hope will help to achieve this.
How can we elicit more high-quality papers? One possibility is through invited submissions. Many excellent papers are only published in conferences and are never published in journals. The authors of these papers should be invited to submit extended and comprehensive versions of their papers to TSE for consideration. This is currently done with some special issues based on conferences, but could be more widely adopted for individual papers. As part of their remit, Board members should have the right to make such invitations to those that they recognize as producing excellent work. This should be attractive to authors; in my experience, authors respond well to personal invitations and like to take advantage of the opportunity to describe their work more comprehensively in a journal-length paper.
Second, it is sometimes the case that exciting submissions do not make it through to publication. These papers have very innovative ideas and important results, yet may be lost to TSE if the authors are requested to make major additions/revisions but do not do so. What is needed in these particular cases is a flexible editorial ethos that, without com-promising on quality, tries to balance aspects such as degree of validation against innovation. This could help to increase the number of interesting and exciting papers appearing in TSE.
Third, given the pervasive nature of software engineering, case studies offer an excellent opportunity to describe successful and interesting applications of innovative software engineering techniques. Furthermore, they can be used to indicate the new and challenging issues facing the field. It should be worthwhile having one or two Board members who are primarily responsible for inviting/encouraging submission of case studies and for maintaining the quality of the submissions. Case studies would help to widen the appeal of the journal to include more practitioners, both as contributors as well as readers.
I would like to thank the IEEE Computer Society Publication Board for my appointment. I look forward to the challenge and encourage all readers and contributors to continue to support TSE.