Guidelines for OJ-SP Senior Area Editors

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Guidelines for OJ-SP Senior Area Editors

Please follow the guidelines below.

Revised: 14 November 2019

A Senior Area Editor (SAE) should spend about 20-25 minutes prescreening each paper to determine whether it is a candidate for Immediate Rejection (IR). This mostly involves checking the abstract/title/bibliography and going over the main claims and the simulations/experiments (if any) of the paper. If it is a resubmission (revised version) of a previously rejected manuscript, check that the supporting document indicates that substantial changes were made. If you spend much more than 25 minutes, you are probably reviewing the paper (rather than just screening it).

There are two broad reasons for IR decisions: Administrative (procedural) and Editorial (technical).

The paper is a candidate for an administrative (procedural) IR if it is:

  1. out of scope for the journal, either in terms of topic or in terms of aims (e.g., OJSP does not publish tutorials, book reviews, opinion pieces, etc.);
  2. an overview paper that has not gone through the required whitepaper vetting process;
  3. incomprehensible or poorly written (e.g., has a large number of grammatical errors, illegible figures, etc.); or
  4. it is a resubmission and lacks adequate documentation summarizing substantial changes made to address reviewer comments.

In these cases, SAEs should inform the EIC with the reason for an IR, and the EIC will make the decision.

The paper is a candidate for an IR for editorial (technical) reasons if:

  1. insufficient novelty (e.g., there are limited advances in new theory, algorithms, or experimental data);
  2. advances in the state of the art are minimal and provide no useful insights;
  3. mathematical derivations reveal little useful insights or are based on unrealistic assumptions;
  4. the main claims do not have sufficient support (e.g., invalid assumptions, based on insufficient simulation/experiment data, weak or inappropriate comparisons); or
  5. the description of the context of the work is inadequate or references are out of date.

In these cases, the IEEE specifies that the decision needs two independent assessments, which is referred to in SPS as a Tier-1 review. The SAE needs to identify another Editorial Board member to prescreen the paper, typically an Associate Editor (AE). Currently, this is managed outside the S1M system. The SAE should alert the Publications Administrator, who will track the assignments.

Papers reporting experimental findings are welcome, and they do not have to have theoretical contributions. However, they must either provide a significant advance in the state of the art (preferably demonstrated for multiple problems or conditions) or contain useful insights such as:

  • previously unknown shortcomings of otherwise well-known and theoretically strong algorithms;
  • invalidity of commonly used assumptions that can significantly affect the performance of algorithms; or
  • any findings contradicting the conventional wisdom.

Within 5 days, the SAE should alert the EiC and SPS staff when a paper is a candidate for an Immediate Rejection, providing a short summary of the reasons for this decision (about 100-300 words) in the notes section for the paper on S1M. Include a separate note for the second opinion in the case of a Tier 1 review. Only the EiC can make the decision of Immediate Reject. The EiC may occasionally consult with other editorial members in reaching the IR decision.

If the prescreen decision is passing, then the SAE notifies the Publications Administrator, preferably with suggestions of AEs who would be good for the paper. Because of S1M constraints, either the Publications Administrator or the EIC will assign the paper to an AE based on availability.

It is possible that a paper might be flagged for plagiarism. This triggers a special review process where the authors can rebut the allegations, before an IR decision can be made.

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