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Thank you for agreeing to be an Associate Editor (AE) for the IEEE Signal Processing Society (SPS). The role of the AE in scholarly publishing is a very important one: management of the peer review of manuscripts by members of the peer community. Peer review of all papers that appear in transactions, journals, or letters publications is required by the IEEE and papers are accepted for publication only on the basis of merit and appropriateness.
The AEs for the publications of the IEEE Signal Processing Society are responsible for the consistently high marks our transactions and letters receive from the peer community. By assuring the selection of appropriate reviewers to identify quality manuscripts and by efficiently managing the peer review process, the quality--and therefore the value--of a publication is increased.
The AEs are supported by staff who help with the paperwork side of the peer review process. However, there are interactions that can only be performed by the AE to foster communication between the AE and the reviewer and between the AE and the author. These communications produce the value added by each AE.
Although you may currently be serving as an AE or reviewer for one or more publications of other IEEE Societies, the procedures set out for the transactions and letters of the IEEE Signal Processing Society may differ significantly. Please read through this entire guide to understand review requirements, timelines, and how you will interact with the Publications Office, the reviewers, and the authors in fulfilling the important role of AE.
NOTE: Please note that some of the instructions on specific functions in ScholarOne Manuscripts (S1M) may vary slightly among the SPS S1M portals. Each journal has its own portal that may include variations specific to that journal. Therefore, if any of the following instructions do not seem to apply to the portal you are using, please contact the journal administrator for clarification.
IEEE's core purpose is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.
Publications play a major role in implementing the purpose of the IEEE as defined in its constitution and in its vision and mission. Throughout the world IEEE publications serve to advance the theory and practice of electrical and electronic engineering, as well as allied arts and sciences, to enhance the professional standing of the Institute's members, and to promote the constructive use of technology for the public welfare.
As an organization of the IEEE, the IEEE Signal Processing Society is responsible for assisting this mission.
More specifically, the Society has established the goal of publishing original, high quality manuscripts pertaining to its fields of endeavor, as established in the Society's Field of Interest.
1.1. IEEE Signal Processing Society Field of Interest.
Signal processing is the enabling technology for the generation, transformation, extraction, and interpretation of information. It comprises the theory, algorithms with associated architectures and implementations, and applications related to processing information contained in many different formats broadly designated as signals. Signal processing uses mathematical, statistical, computational, heuristic, and/or linguistic representations, formalisms, modeling techniques and algorithms for generating, transforming, transmitting, and learning from signals.
1.2. Publications of the IEEE Signal Processing Society.
The IEEE Signal Processing Society fully sponsors publication of the following transactions:
2.1. Membership Status.
An AE is required to be a member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, except in rare cases, which will be determined by the Vice President of Publications.
AEs shall be appointed by the Editors-in-Chief (EiCs) and shall have an initial term of no more than three years. After their initial term, AEs may be extended up to one additional year. During their formal terms, AEs shall be voting members of the Editorial Board for the publication to which they were appointed. When an AE’s term has expired, AEs are required to complete their workloads, but they will no longer act as voting members of the Editorial Board. AEs may serve more than one term; however, such terms shall not be consecutive and should have a minimum break of two years between service.
2.3. Duties and Responsibilities
The AE, as a member of the Editorial Board of the publication, is responsible for ensuring that the publication maintains the highest quality while adhering to the publication rules and procedures of both the Society and of the IEEE. The AE is responsible for handling manuscripts and communications with authors and reviewers as well as advising the EiC on questions related to: special issues, overview papers, new AE nominations, suitability for publication, plagiarism, etc. In their advisory role, the AE attends Editorial Board meetings at major SPS conferences. The process for handling regular papers and letters is described in this section. The process for handling comments, corrections, and errata is covered in section 6.
2.3.1. Immediate Reject Assessment.
In order to reduce the burden on reviewers, papers that are clearly not suitable for publication may be rejected by the EiCs. Such decisions are referred to as “Immediate Reject.” In some journals, Senior Area Editors assist the EiC in identifying papers that should be immediately rejected. This process is described in separate guidelines. For journals that do not have Senior Area Editors, the AEs assist with this process.
After being notified that s/he is assigned a manuscript, the AE should first read the paper to determine whether it is suitable to send out for review. Within 7 days, the AE should alert the EiC when a paper is a candidate for Immediate Rejection, providing a summary of the reasons for this decision.
A paper is a candidate for an Immediate Rejection if it:
2.3.2. Identifying and Securing Reviewers.
The primary role of the AE is to assign reviewers for each manuscript and manage the peer review schedule.
When a reviewer is chosen, the AE must check any inaccuracies regarding the reviewer's contact information in the S1M database or enter contact information for new reviewers. Corrections to the reviewer's information can only be made by the reviewer or the IEEE Signal Processing Society's publications staff.
Reviewers are generally found through peer contact, the reviewer database in the S1M system, or from references listed at the end of the manuscript. In rare circumstances, it may be necessary for the author to suggest possible expert reviewers.
When considering reviewers, the AE:
1. should select reviewers across a range of ability.
2. should assign no more than two original manuscripts to a single reviewer within a three month period.
3. is strongly encouraged to assign at least three independent reviewers, however, a minimum of two reviews are needed for a decision. If the AE feels confident with the first two reviews, the AE may edit the "# reviews required to make decision" from three to two and proceed with the decision.
4. should not serve as a reviewer on any paper for which s/he is AE per SPS policy.
2.3.3. Communicating with Reviewers.
AEs are the first line of communication when problems arise concerning the review. The AE must be available for such communication and responsive to such requests.
S1M automatically sends reminders to reviewers when they are late in returning reviews. Reminders in S1M are customizable per the EiC. However, when reviews are significantly late, the AE should send personal notes to establish a new deadline or determine that a new reviewer must be invited.
Reviewers may also contact the AE with allegations of plagiarism or multiple publication. In such cases, the EiC should be informed immediately and confidentiality should be maintained. Handling of such cases is described in Section 3.
If a reviewer uses inappropriate or abusive language, the AE should ask the reviewer to remove the relevant parts of the review. If the reviewer refuses, the reviewer should be unassigned and the EiC should be informed.
2.3.4. Communicating with Authors.
The authors and the AE may communicate for many reasons throughout the peer review process.
Authors may contact AEs:
If an author uses inappropriate or abusive language in replying to a reviewer/AE, the AE should ask the author to remove the relevant part of the reply. If the author refuses, the AE may reject the paper after consultation with the EiC.
The AE will make a decision on the manuscript, based on the remarks of the reviewers and the AE's own assessment of the manuscript. The decision must be well justified and the AE must explain the decision in detail. AEs may also contact authors if their revisions are overdue.
2.3.5. Communicating with the SPS Publications Staff.
The SPS Publications Staff is your main point of contact and a dedicated resource for the AE during the peer review process. When questions arise, you are encouraged to email your staff contact. As much as possible, this communication should be via email. The Publications Office should be copied on all of your correspondences because it assists in building a complete file on a manuscript.
It is very important to notify the Publications Staff when an AE anticipates being out of contact for two weeks or more. An AE is not relieved of editorial duties during any protracted absences such as extended vacations or sabbatical. If an AE is unable to fulfill his/her responsibilities due to personal reasons, s/he must make arrangements with the EiC and the Publications Office.
2.3.6. Single-Blind Reviews.
Reviews of manuscripts submitted to SPS publications are "single-blind reviews”: the identity of each of the reviewers is never revealed to the author or others, but the author names are known. The AE must assure that the identities of the reviewers are kept confidential.
An AE should not be assigned more than three manuscripts per month on average during his/her term of service. This does not mean that each AE will receive three manuscripts each month, but AEs covering popular EDICS categories may be more active than those covering more specialized EDICS. If such assignments are frequent, the AE may recommend to the EiC that new AEs be nominated. The AE should report any difficulties with workload immediately to the SPS Publications Staff for assistance.
Author misconduct includes data misrepresentation/fabrication, plagiarism, simultaneous submissions, and duplicate/multiple publication. Author misconduct is unacceptable and may be actionable by the IEEE, as described in the guidelines for authors and the IEEE PSPB Operations Manual.
IEEE defines plagiarism as: the use of someone else’s prior ideas, processes, results, or words without explicitly acknowledging the original author and source.
A manuscript should only cite papers that are directly related to the topics covered in the manuscript and the authors should explain how each paper relates to the manuscript. Listing several papers without such explanations is unacceptable and known as citation stacking. According to Wikipedia: “Citation stacking or Coercive citation is an academic publishing practice in which an editor of a scientific or academic journal forces an author to add spurious citations to an article before the journal will agree to publish it. This is done to inflate the journal’s impact factor, thus artificially boosting the journal’s scientific reputation.”
Simultaneous submission of a single journal manuscript to two different journals, as well as the submission of two different journal manuscripts which overlap substantially in language or technical contribution, are considered acts of author misconduct.
Duplicate/multiple submission of an already-published paper (without proper citation) by the authors is also considered an act of author misconduct. Authors may only submit original work that has not been published elsewhere, or is not currently under review for another journal publication.
Limited overlap with prior journal publications with a common author is allowed only if it is necessary for the readability of the paper. If authors have used their own previously published work as a basis for a new submission, they are required to cite the previous work and briefly indicate how the new submission offers substantively novel contributions beyond those of the previously published work. It is acceptable for conference papers to be used as the basis for a more fully developed journal submission. Still, authors are required to cite the related conference paper(s); the papers cannot be identical; and the journal publication must include novel aspects.
If an AE suspects author misconduct, s/he should immediately contact the EiC to determine the proper course of action. The AE may be asked to provide documentation explaining the allegation, including a marked-up version of the manuscript involved, and an electronic version of the plagiarized source. The EiC will take over the communication with the authors and with any reviewer making an allegation.
Please see the IEEE PSPB Operations Manual Section 8.2.4 “Allegations of Misconduct”.
For a basic timeline of peer review, please click here.
4.1. Manuscript Submission.
Please be familiar with the following terms and how they are used during the peer review process:
4.1.1. New Submissions.
All new submissions are entered electronically by the authors via the S1M portal. (Transactions on Multimedia Link) Staff and AEs will access the manuscript electronically via this system. Upon submission to the S1M system, the manuscript is issued a Manuscript Tracking Number, which is an entry into the database containing the author's contact information, the electronic version of the manuscript, the review status, all communication to the authors and reviewers, and other pertinent information necessary to track the manuscript through peer review.
4.1.2. Manuscript Submission Length.
During submission, authors are required to provide an electronic copy of their manuscript in single-space, double-column format. The copy will be used by the Publication Office as a measure of the estimated length of the paper in final publication format. The initial submission must be no longer than 13 pages for a regular transactions manuscript, 2 pages for a comment correspondence, and 4 pages for a letters manuscript. Revised versions of regular transactions papers may grow up to 16 pages in length. AEs are asked to monitor the length of papers throughout the review process. Exceptions to page limits may be approved by the EiC in consultation with the VP Publications.
As per the Society's Publications Board, authors are required to pay mandatory overlength page charges for any published manuscript that exceeds 10 pages in length, as described in the “Information for Authors” for the associated periodical.
4.2. Peer Review Schedule.
The transactions published by the IEEE Signal Processing Society will function according to the following review timeline and every effort will be made to keep all parties involved in the peer review to this schedule.
See Section 9 for helpful S1M links.
4.2.1. Compliance Tests
The SPS Publications Staff checks the manuscript for submission criteria, such as format and length. If the manuscript is non-compliant in one or more criteria, staff will unsubmit the manuscript and inform the authors of the corrections needed.
4.2.2. AE Assignment
Manuscripts passing the compliance test and the initial screening step with a Senior Area Editor (if the journal has this mechanism) will be assigned by the SPS Publications Staff or the EiC to the next available AE based on EDICS and AE workload within one week of either submission or completion of pre-screening. Upon selection of the AE, S1M sends an e-mail message to the AE, notifying the AE that the manuscript is in his/her AE Center. If the AE does not think the manuscript is a good fit for his/her expertise or has a conflict of interest with any of the authors on a manuscript that has been assigned to him/her, s/he should alert the Publications Staff and the EiC so that it can be reassigned. Conflicts of interest include recent collaborators and colleagues in the same institution.
4.2.3. Assignment of Reviewers
4.2.4. Monitoring the Peer Review Process
4.2.5. Step 4: AE First Decision
4.2.6. Revision of Manuscript
The author is required to upload the revised version of the manuscript and the response-to-reviewers letter within six weeks (if the decision is RQ) or three weeks (if the decision is AQ). If the revision cannot be made within this period, the author has to contact the AE and the Publications Office and agree upon an amended revision deadline. Two weeks is a customary extension, but longer extensions can be granted if deemed appropriate by the AE/EiC. Authors who do not upload their materials to S1M on schedule and do not respond to attempts to contact them regarding the material will have their manuscripts withdrawn.
When the author submits the revised manuscript and clicks the "submit" button, S1M generates an e-mail to the AE that notifies them that the revision has been submitted.
4.2.7. Review of Revised RQ Manuscript
4.2.8. Review of Revised AQ Manuscript
The AE reviews the amended AQ manuscript and makes the final decision ("accept" or "reject") using the S1M system.
5.1. Novelty and Appropriateness.
The two most important scores a manuscript will receive are:
These criteria must be affirmative for the manuscript to be accepted.
There are three types of short correspondences that may be submitted to the transactions:
(A) Comment Correspondence: A two-page paper that comments on a previously published paper from the same transactions. A Comment Correspondence (and any rebuttal to follow), must be focused on technical matters only and may not contain any personal or derogatory remarks.
(B) Corrections: A short note, typically from one of the original authors, which provides a technical correction that were missed in the review and proofing process.
(C) Errata: The IEEE publishes errata due to production errors introduced after the publishing process.
Corrections/Errata should be emailed directly to the Editor-in-Chief and the Publications Office by the corresponding author. Comment Correspondences are submitted in the same manner as regular manuscripts, but will be reviewed as described below.
6.2. Review Procedure for Comment Correspondence.
If the decision of the EiC is to publish both the Comment Correspondence and the rebuttal, the authors of the Comment Correspondence will be provided with a copy of the rebuttal. However, at this point, the author of the Comment Correspondence will be permitted no further comment (no rebuttal of the rebuttal).
The IEEE Signal Processing Society is committed to reducing the time from manuscript submission to publication, realizing that timely publication increases the quality of a journal, and its desirability among top authors as a publication venue for their work. The Society's goal is to help researchers make new discoveries, collaborate with their colleagues, and provide support to expand boundaries of knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
The IEEE Signal Processing Society values its volunteers’ commitment and the support they provide toward these goals.