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A Guide for Special Issues

Updated 21 June 2004

The publication of special issues by the Transactions of the Signal Processing Society is an important component of the activities of the Society. Special issues deal with timely topics of broad interest and should be organized by recognized experts in the area. They should also attract articles of the highest quality.

In order to ensure both timeliness and quality, it is imperative that guest editors have established recognition in the field. It is also important that authors and guest editors adhere strictly to the time schedule and deadlines of the editorial process. In this regard, guest editors will need to select reliable reviewers.

The following are general guidelines that are meant to ensure timeliness and quality. They deal with four issues:

I. Submitting a proposal for a special issue.

II. Avoiding conflicts of interest by Guest Editors.

III. Responsibilities of Guest Editors.

IV. Selection of Special Issues.

I. Submission of a Proposal for a Special Issue

1) It is suggested that a proposal for a special issue should have at least 3 and at most 5 Guest Editors (GEs).

2) The same guidelines for selecting Associate Editors for the Society Transactions should generally apply when selecting GEs, e.g., seniority and tenure (for proposers from academic institutions). At least one of the GEs must be a member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society and preferably also of IEEE.

3) The GEs should appoint a Lead GE, who will manage the review process. The Lead GE would also serve as the Contact person with the administrator of the journal.

4) The GEs should be from different institutions.

5) The GEs should be recognized experts in the proposed topic, and each GE should have a track record of publications in the area.

6) A Special Issue proposal should include the following information:

6.1) The Lead GE shall provide a White Paper, including the importance of the topic to the technical community, and who would be working on the issue. The Editor-in-Chief shall initiate communication with the Special Issue Team on receipt of the proposal.

6.2) A sample call for papers, including the title of proposal, a description of the proposed topic and why it is timely, and relevant areas covered by the Special Issue.

6.3) For each GE, a list of recent publications in the area of the proposal.

6.4) For each GE, a one page brief bio outlining: education, research interests, employment history, selected relevant publications, awards, and other pertinent information, including performance on the management of previous issues.

6.5) A proposed time schedule including:

  1. Submission deadline.
  2. Notification of acceptance
  3. Final manuscript due
  4. Tentative publication date

These dates should be specified in terms of weeks relative to the acceptance of the proposal. The dates should be consistent with the deadlines of the editorial process itself, and they should take into account the following time frame:

(6.5.1) 6 months from first published announcement to deadline of submissions.

(6.5.2) 2 weeks to assign paper to GE from time of paper submission.

(6.5.3) 2 weeks to find reviewers.

(6.5.4) 6 weeks for first review.

(6.5.5) 1 week for GE decision.

(6.5.6) 6 weeks for author to revise.

(6.5.7) 6 weeks for 2nd review.

(6.5.8) 1 week for GE decision.

(6.5.9) 3 weeks to decide which papers make the special issue.

7) The EIC can encourage the submission of Special Issues from recognized experts.

8) The EIC should request suggestions for Special Issues from the editorial board of the Transactions twice a year.

9) The EIC will collect proposals of Special Issues and bring them to a vote by the Publications Board.

II. Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

1) A GE cannot appear as author or co-author on more than one submission to the Special Issue and no more than 3 papers in total in the Special Issue may have a GE as author or co-author.

2) The GEs should write an editorial of moderate length (no more than 3 total printed pages) setting the scope of the SI, motivation and importance of the topic. The Lead GE should coordinate the writing of the editorial in consultation with the other GEs. It is encouraged to acknowledge the service of the reviewers as part of the editorial. Brief biographies (no more than 75 words) and photographs of the Guest Editors may be published at the end of the editorial. The editorial should be submitted to the Signal Processing Society Office strictly within one month from the date of acceptance of the last paper for the Special Issue.

3) If a GE submits a paper to the SI, that paper will be handled by the EIC of the Transactions. The EIC will be responsible for either handling the paper directly or appointing an AE to handle the paper. The EIC will also be responsible for ensuring that the paper goes through the same rigorous review procedure.

4) To ensure a high-quality special issue and to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the GEs are reminded that the following people are excluded from taking part in the review process of a particular paper:

4.1) any person in the same organization as any of the authors.

4.2) any research collaborators of any of the authors.

4.3) present or former students, advisors or any people closely connected to any of the authors.
If a GE is in any of the above categories, the GE cannot handle a paper. Another GE should be selected. If all the GEs fall into the above categories for a particular paper, the EIC should take over the review of the paper.

5) The list of papers, with authors' names and affiliations, should be forwarded to the EIC with a statement that Rule 4 was followed.

III. Responsibilities of Guest Editors

1) Once a special issue has been approved, and in consultation with the EIC and with the Signal Processing Office, the GEs should prepare a call for papers (CFP). The CFP should indicate that manuscripts are to be submitted according to the Information for Authors as published in any recent issue of the relevant Transactions and as available on the Signal Processing Society website. GEs need to create, refine, and submit the finalized Call for Papers within three weeks of approval.

The announcement has to mention also the schedule with specific dates, namely:

  1. Submission deadline.
  2. Notification of acceptance.
  3. Final manuscript due.
  4. Tentative publication date.

These dates should be consistent with the schedule under item 6.5) in Section I. Submission of a Proposal for a Special Issue. In addition to the dates, the Call for Papers must clearly state that all rules will apply with regard to submission lengths, mandatory overlength charges, and color charges.

2) The IEEE logo and the logo of the IEEE Signal Processing Society should be included on the Call for Papers. Please refer to the IEEE Identity Standards website for specifications in using the IEEE logo and the logo of the SPS:

3) GEs are expected to announce the call for papers in all relevant IEEE journals (in addition to the Signal Processing Magazine), as well as electronically. GEs may request the help of the Society who will distribute it through electronic lists to which the Society has access. The more people know about a special issue, the higher the quality of the papers will be. The EIC takes care of the announcement in the Transactions, and the Signal Processing Office can help with other journals. GEs may also contact EICs of other journals directly. It should be noted that the Transactions require a 3-month advance notice before publication, in addition to at least another 3 months for the Call for Papers to stay open. It is recommended that the time from first printed announcement to submission deadline be 6 months.

4) Special issues are handled outside the scope of the Publications Office. Thus GEs should handle all aspects of the reviewing of the manuscripts. This is to make sure that the stringent deadlines are followed closely under the full responsibility of the Guest Editors. Guest Editors will be assigned papers by the Lead Guest Editor. The Guest Editors should indicate to the Publications Office the list of manuscripts assigned to each of the Guest Editors. The Publications Office will then give each of the Guest Editors permission on Manuscript Central to assign reviewers for their corresponding papers. It is imperative that Guest Editors adhere to the guidelines for securing reviewers as published in the Guide for Associate Editors. [Attachment I]

5) The EIC will inform GEs of the maximum number of pages for the special issue as soon as the IEEE office gives the EIC the relevant information. Papers that do not fit in the special issue will be published in subsequent issues as regular papers. The Lead GE, in consultation with the other GE's, will make the decision about which papers should become regular. It is the responsibility of the Guest Editors to continue taking care of the papers that have been selected as regular papers.

6) Regular papers should not exceed the 30-page limit, and correspondences should not exceed the 12-page limit. In both cases the paper should be single column, double-spaced. GEs should warn authors that if their manuscript exceeds 8 published pages limit they will pay mandatory over-length charges. The letter should also prepare the authors that some papers may be accepted for publication in regular issue, due to the expected large number of submissions.

7) At the end, the final decision by the GEs should be one of following decisions:

  1. accept for the special issue.
  2. accept for a regular issue.
  3. reject.

8) When GEs accept papers, they may not go beyond the limit of maximum pages for the special issue.

9) Each Special Issue shall have an editorial prepared by the special issue editor(s), which must be submitted to the SPS publications staff and the Editor-in-Chief two months prior to the scheduled publication date.
Editorials must be provided in an editable format, such as a Word document or text, sent via e-mail. The Lead Guest Editor is responsible for reviewing the galley proofs of the editorial for accuracy and communicate any corrections to IEEE production staff within 72 hours of receipt.

10) GEs can accept, with the EIC approval, good papers beyond the maximum limit as regular papers, which will appear in future issues GEs should send their recommendation to the EIC for final approval, before informing the authors. It is the responsibility of the Guest Editors to continue taking care of the papers that have been selected as regular papers.

IV. Selection of Special Issues

Proposals of Special Issues are discussed and voted upon by the members of the Publications Board of the Signal Processing Society. The Editor-in-Chief will inform the proposers about the decision of the Publications Board, with an explanation of the decision and recommendations for revisions and resubmissions when appropriate.