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Introduction and Vision
I am honored to be taking over as Editor in Chief of the IEEE Transactions of Software Engineering (TSE). Jeff Kramer will be a hard act to follow, but I am immensely grateful to him for handing over the journal in such a healthy state, and for helping me learn the new job to ensure a smooth transition.
It goes without saying that my primary goal as Editor is to maintain the journal’s reputation and standing as the leading forum for publishing the highest quality of research in software engineering. However, these are exciting and changing times in the world of publishing and in the discipline of software engineering, and I believe that TSE must lead the way by finding innovative ways to disseminate software engineering research and by contributing to setting and reflecting the research agenda in the field. To this end I have three medium term goals for my tenure as Editor:
1. To reemphasize the broad scope of the journal, encouraging the publication of multidisciplinary research as well as specialization in software engineering.
2. To engage with the software engineering community at large, including other journals, about the software engineering discipline, using not only the journal itself as a forum but through other professional outlets such as conferences and the web.
3. To support a debate on the nature of scholarly discourse in software engineering, such as the kind and length of papers published in the journal, or the different forms of peer review and discussion around what is published.
The length of papers published in TSE has on occasion been a topic for some discussion. I do not propose to change the policy in this area but to clarify it, as I think it hides a number of issues within it. TSE publishes papers of any length, as long as their length is appropriate for the content presented. The discussion has often centered around what to do if accepted papers are over the IEEE Computer Society’s recommended length of 15 pages. However, there is an equally interesting discussion to be had for short papers. My view is this: There is nothing sacred about the length of a software engineering research contribution. Substantial pieces of work may need lengthy and detailed accounts of techniques, or of empirical studies or other kinds of evidence; but equally valuable results may be published in short papers. Indeed, other disciplines manage to publish seminal results in four pages.
I will continue to be guided by my associate editors as to what constitutes an appropriate length for any particular contribution. I believe that we, as a community, have largely won the battle of persuading our deans and managers that publishing in conferences is a respectable form of publication. However, in a world of economic difficulties, carbon footprint consciousness, and fast internet-time publication, there is a strong case to be made that we need to redress the balance and publish more of our research in journals. Indeed, I would go as far as saying that many research students now go through their entire doctoral studies publishing in workshops and conferences only, and think that all research contributions can fit into the 2-column, 10-page format of IEEE conference publications. As a result, other than their PhD dissertations, these students do not get an opportunity to publish their work in an archival journal format.
Of course, the frequency of conference reviewing has also had an impact on the nature of reviews that referees are asked to write. With little scope for improving conference papers before publication and heavy referee review loads, reviews tend to be short critiques of papers, rather than substantive engagements with the content that authors are trying to present. I therefore believe that journal reviews and revision allow for better quality work to be produced incrementally and then published.
Of course, the journal publication process is not without cost to authors, referees, and editors, and we need to acknowledge this and tackle it head on. I was very taken by the discussion by Crowcroft et al .  on the varying incentives of the different stakeholders in the publication process: authors, referees, and editors. For TSE, the kind of behavior I would like to incentivize is for authors to submit innovative, rigorous, and well-presented accounts of their research and not overload the system with half-baked ideas or very small increments on previous work. I would like to incentivize referees to agree to review papers and to produce rigorous, thoughtful reviews. And, I would like to incentivize editors to seek and encourage submission of a wider range of contributions that will serve our research and practitioner community better.
I have no magic to generate these incentives. However, in a year’s time TSE will make a number of awards to authors, referees, and (associate) editors to acknowledge the quality of research, feedback, and editing. I welcome feedback from the community on the specification of such awards.
I am happy to receive feedback directly, but I also encourage you to visit and contribute to the somewhat underused online forum that TSE maintains at http://www.computer.org/portal/web/tse/forum. If such a forum proves attractive, I will explore how it may be elevated to carry discussion and debate not only about the nature of software engineering publication, but perhaps also a scientific discussion of published work.
Welcome and Thanks
In this issue, I would like to welcome a number of new associate editors whom I am delighted have agreed to serve on the TSE editorial board. They are Marsha Chechik, Harald Gall, Dimitra Giannakopoulou, John Grundy, Paola Inverardi, Marta Kwiatkowska, Michael Jackson, Nenad Medvidovic, and Walter Tichy. In the coming issues, they will be joined by a number of other leading researchers to cover areas that better reflect TSE submissions, and areas that I hope will be better represented in TSE in the future.
I would like to end, as I started, with some thanks and acknowledgments. Thanks again to Jeff Kramer for his wise stewardship of the journal over the past four years, thanks to the outgoing members of the editorial board for their hard work as associate editors, and thanks to the IEEE Computer Society staff who have already welcomed and guided me through the handover. Looking forward, I would like to give my anticipated thanks to you, authors, reviewers, and readers, for your forthcoming role in shaping the journal.
 J. Crowcroft, S. Keshav, and N. McKeown , “Scaling the Academic Publication Process to Internet Scale,” Comm. ACM, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 27-30, Jan. 2009.