IEEE Robotics and Automation Society IEEE

T-ASE Procedure Manual

Version 2, May 26, 2006

Preamble

Twenty years ago, the field of Robotics was defined and galvanized by the creation of an IEEE Journal devoted to the topic. We now have the opportunity to do the same for the field of Automation. The IEEE voted in February 2003 to bifurcate the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, the top-cited archival publication on robotics. The renamed Transactions on Robotics will gain a sibling: the Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE). This Procedure Manual is a working document to outline the Scope of T-ASE, its structure, manuscript and decision categories, detailed operation procedures, and the long-term goals.

1. Scope of the T-ASE

When the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation (T-RA) was bifurcated into two separate journals, they were renamed Transactions on Robotics (T-RO) and Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE). T-RO publishes fundamental papers on Robotics, with special emphasis on robots and intelligent machines or systems for unstructured environments, where a significant portion of the environment is unknown and cannot be directly sensed or controlled. In contrast, T-ASE publishes fundamental papers on topics related to intelligent machines/systems in structured environments and the explicit structuring of environments.

Thus, the quarterly T-ASE publishes foundational research on Automation: Scientific methods and technologies that improve efficiency, productivity, quality, and reliability, specifically for methods, machines, and systems operating in structured environments over long periods, and the explicit structuring of environments. Its coverage goes beyond Automation's roots in mass production and includes many new applications areas, such as Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and Health; Construction, Transportation, and Security; Manufacturing, Maintenance, and Supply Chains; Home, Laboratory, and Service; Business and Software; Food Handling and Processing. Research includes topics related to robots and intelligent machines/systems in structured environments and the explicit structuring of environments, and topics at the Operational/Enterprise levels such as System Modeling, Analysis, Performance Evaluation; Planning, Scheduling, Coordination; Risk Management; and Supply Chain Management.

The T-ASE Call for Papers, details on motivation, distinctions between Robotics and Automation, scope statements, and sample application areas are available on this website.

2. Structure of T-ASE

Overall Structure. The T-ASE has an Editorial Board, an Advisory Board, and a Senior Editors Panel.

Editorial Board. The Editorial Board is responsible for handling papers, from the time of their submissions, throughout their review, to publication. It is a three-tier system consisting of an Editor-in-Chief (EiC) supported by an Editorial Assistant, a small number of Editors (around four), and multiple (on the order of 20 to 30) Associate Editors (AEs). Editorial Board members should be reputable experts with the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to make T-ASE the Flagship journal in automation. Their collective expertise should cover the major areas of automation science and engineering. While some members are RAS members, some will be invited to join from outside the RAS or IEEE to encourage submissions on non-traditional RAS topics, and to handle these submissions in a quality and timely fashion. These non-IEEE members will be strongly encouraged to become IEEE/RAS members. Our co-sponsoring societies (IEEE Industry Applications Society and Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society) can also nominate AE candidates.

Advisory Board. In view of the broad coverage and rapid development of automation science and engineering, the Transactions will have an Advisory Board to provide advice, support, long-term vision, and a bridge to sister societies, their members, and their publications. The Advisory Board will consist of a Chair, a Vice Chair, and multiple (on the order of fifteen) Advisors, with RAS Vice President for Publications and T-ASE EiC as ex officio. Advisory Board members will be distinguished and internationally recognized leaders in the field, who possess wisdom, vision, and connections; and are committed to make T-ASE the Flagship journal in automation. Similar to members of the Editorial Board, it is expected that many advisors will be invited from outside the RAS or IEEE, and they will be strongly encouraged to become members of IEEE/RAS.

Senior Editors Panel. The Senior Editors Panel consists of the current and past EiC, Editors, the RAS Vice President for Publications, and Chair of the Advisory Board. The responsibilities include evaluating AE candidates, AE one-year checkpoint reviews, and Special Issue proposals.

Editor-in-Chief. The EiC represents the T-ASE in the scientific and industrial communities; interfaces with the Advisory Board, the Robotics & Automation Society, IEEE Publications and other units, and other professional organizations; develops the Editorial Board, manages related administrative issues, chairs Editorial Board meetings, and sets long-term visions and strategies; solicits contributions, receives paper submissions, assigns them to Editors, coordinates the review process, submits final packages to IEEE Publications, and oversees the publication process; resolves conflicts, ensures the smooth functioning of the T-ASE, and is responsible for the overall success of the T-ASE. The EiC is supported by an Editorial Assistant who supports the administrative and daily operations of the T-ASE. The EiC is appointed to a five-year term and the position is without reappointment. An EiC-Elect shall be selected at least one year before the end of the term of the EiC, and shall assist the EiC in carrying out administrative functions, learn the operations of the Transactions, and succeed the EiC at the end of his/her term. The EiC-Elect is recommended by the current and past EiCs, the RAS Vice President for Publications, and Chair of T-ASE Advisory Board, and appointed by the RAS President. While not a written requirement, the EiC is usually selected from those who have served as Editor.

Editor. Editors are the interface between authors and the review process. The handling Editor of a submitted paper is thus always known from the beginning to the authors. Editors are required to work closely with AEs to manage papers in their general areas of expertise in a quality and timely fashion (with target turn-around-time of 3 months). Their tasks include assigning papers to AEs, deciding the dispositions of papers based on AEs’ recommendations and their own evaluations, directly communicating with authors about the decisions and responding to questions that the authors might have, and serve as Editors for Special Issues. They guarantee fairness, quality, and timeliness of the overall review process, balance the relevance of contributions according to general areas of interests, and resolve conflicts that may occur in the review process. Initially, the workload will probably be relatively light, as the Transactions is just getting started, but may increase to around 80 to 100 papers per year. As a member of the Senior Editors Panel, Editors will have the rights and obligations to evaluate AE candidates, AE one-year checkpoint reviews, and Special Issue proposals. Editors are selected by the Senior Editors Panel, usually from present or past AEs to ensure the highest standard of quality and the familiarity with procedures. After the selection, the appointment should be ratified by the Society President. The initial term is for one year, and if things work out well at the one-year checkpoint review conducted by the current and past EiCs, RAS Vice President for Publications, and Chair of T-ASE Advisory Board, the term will be extended for four more years without reappointment. Editors receive some financial support for secretarial assistance.

Associate Editors. Associate Editors are the core of the service of the T-ASE, and are responsible for complete (originality, relevance, technical correctness, paper organization and presentation, references) and fair reviews of papers in a quality and timely fashion. Upon the assignment of a paper, an AE should judiciously secure four reviewers thus increasing the likelihood of obtaining three substantial reviews. After reviews are obtained, the AE should analyze their ratings and comments, and combine them with AEs’ own comments to prepare a recommendation to the handling Editors, targeting a turn-around-time of two months. More will be said below about securing reviewers and the preparation of recommendations. AEs are kept anonymous until the publication of papers where a footnote is provided identifying the handling AE. Initially the workload will probably be relatively light, but may increase to around 12 to 15 papers per year. In a more proactive way, AEs should beat bushes to invite top quality papers and submit their own papers, promote Automation, network with experts in the general R&A areas, and grow professionally within RAS. Associate Editors are selected by the Senior Editors Panel and ratified by the RAS President, and their selection is based on scientific quality, international reputation, commitment to service, reliability, and the needs of the Editorial Board. It is also important that AE candidates have shown their active involvement in the scientific life of the RAS. The initial term of an AE is one year, and if things work out well at the one-year checkpoint review conducted by the Senior Editors Panel, the term will be extended for two more years. While another one-year extension may be granted in cases of special needs, it is normally required that a person takes a break for at least a year before serving a second term as an AE. This is to provide an opportunity for other members of the scientific community to participate in the editorial process and to avoid having the Transactions become a province of a small group of people. Co-sponsoring sister Societies can recommend AE candidates, who are subject to the same appointment and review processes.

The Appointments of Advisory Board. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Advisory Board shall be appointed to a five-year term by the RAS Vice President for Publications with the concurrence of the RAS President, and without reappointment. A Chair-Elect shall be selected in the same way from among Advisory Board members at least one year before the end of the term of the Chair. The Chair-Elect will assist the Chair and Vice Chair in carrying out various Advisory Board functions, learn the operations of the Advisory Board, and succeed the Chair at the end of his/her term. Advisors shall be appointed to a three-year term by the Chair, with the concurrence of RAS Vice President for Publications and the RAS President. Further appointment must be separated by at least one year. Advisors can be recommended by co-sponsoring sister societies, and the candidates are subject to the same appointment process described above. The Chair, with the assistance of the Vice Chair and the Advisory Board, shall establish operating policies and procedures for the Advisory Board.

Editorial/Advisory Board and Senior Editors Panel Meetings. The Editorial Board and the Senior Editors Panel shall meet twice per year, once in conjunction with IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA, the RAS' annual conference). The second meeting could be in conjunction with IROS (IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems), Program Committee meeting of ICRA, or other appropriate occasions as deemed appropriate. Members of the Editorial Board should attend at least one meeting per year. Urgent matters shall be communicated, coordinated, and decided by email. The Advisory Board shall meet once per year in conjunction with the Editorial Board meeting attached to ICRA.

3. Paper and Decision Categories

Paper Categories. T-ASE publishes Regular Papers, Short Papers, Communication Items, and Book Reviews. Regular Papers describe new abstractions, algorithms, theory, methodologies, models, systems, or enabling technologies for Automation. Short Papers usually describe a single result, experiment, or technique of general interest for which a short treatment is appropriate. Communications Items are a separate class of short manuscripts that are subject to an expedited review process and substantially faster publication than Regular or Short Papers. Appropriate items include (but are not limited to) rebuttals and/or counter examples of previously published papers, or preliminary results of significant current research of wide interest. Book Reviews contain a description and evaluation of published books of interest to the Automation audience, and the evaluation and publication of Book Reviews are relatively fast. Review papers are published periodically, and manuscripts of a tutorial nature are also welcome. Papers describing specific applications are encouraged, provided that the methods represent the best current practice, detailed characteristics and performance are included, and the topics are of general interest. Multipart papers will only be published if there is compelling rationale for a multipart treatment. All parts of such submissions must be accepted for any part to be published.

To enhance accessibility of its papers, T-ASE initiated a new feature requiring that each submission include a 100-300 word "Note to Practitioners" (NtP). In view that T-ASE addresses a research community willing to integrate knowledge across disciplines and industries, authors are asked to step back and describe without jargon how their results might be applied to practical problems. Writing a good NtP is a challenge. Since the NtP will appear just below the Abstract, it is important not to repeat information that is contained in the Abstract. It should be aimed at colleagues from industry who want to understand how the ideas can be put into practice, avoiding jargon and mathematical notation. Begin by specifying the practical problem(s) that motivated the paper and possible application areas. Clearly describe the potential and limitations of the work, and how it might be extended to be more practical.

Decision Categories. Decision categories include: Accept, Conditionally Accept, Revise and Resubmit, and Reject. In addition, the authors of a Regular Paper may be asked to shorten their manuscript to become a Short Paper, reducing its length and changing its presentation style. Accept and Reject are straightforward. For a paper that was Conditionally Accepted, the revised manuscript has to be submitted within 60 days from the date of decision. It retains the same paper ID number, the review clock continues without re-start, and the additional review cycle should be short. Revise and Resubmit is an encouraging way to say that a paper was a reject, but it may contain publishable results after a serious revision. The authors are encouraged to revise the manuscript based on reviewers' comments and specific instructions provided by the AE and the Editor. A revised manuscript will be assigned a new paper ID number, is treated as a brand new submission, and has to go through a full review process. The reference to the old paper ID number is provided to facilitate the new review process.

4. Paper Submission, Copyright, and Ethical Issues

Style of Manuscript and Paper Submission Procedure

A valuable IEEE link for helping authors in their manuscript preparation is IEEE's "Tools for Authors". Paper submission and review are now through Manuscript Central V3. Instructions for authors are provided on-line at the site.

Manuscripts should be submitted in a double column format using an IEEE style file (downloadable here). After the abstract, please provide Note to Practitioners before the Index Terms (keywords). Regular papers are limited to ten Transactions pages and Short papers five Transactions pages, with mandatory page charges imposed on extra pages (see Page Charges below). Excessively long papers may be rejected without review.

Uploaded information: A cover letter, an abstract (up to 200 words for Regular Papers and 50 words for Communications and Short Papers), a Note to Practitioners right after the abstract, index terms, and the type of paper (Regular, Short, or Communication Item).

All figures must be numbered and cited in text. Use consistent font and size in all figures and tables, and choose sizes that will allow the text to be scaled to 8 points at final printed size. Otherwise, an entire figure may be enlarged so that the smallest size is scaled to 8 points for readability.

References must be in a separate reference section at the end of the paper in IEEE style, with items referred to by numerals in square brackets. For journal articles: Author initials followed by last names, title in quotation marks, periodical, volume, inclusive page numbers, year; for books: Author initials followed by last names, title, location, publisher, year; and for conference papers: Author initials followed by last names, title in quotation marks, conference, location, month and year, and inclusive page numbers.

For a paper that was previously reviewed by T-ASE, the old paper number should be presented, and a separate response file should be submitted describing how reviewers' comments were addressed.

If it is felt that a paper is beyond the scope or capability of T-ASE, the corresponding author will be notified within one week of submission by the EiC. Please direct all questions to the EiC.

Accepted Manuscripts

After a paper is accepted, the following will be required: All line drawings (graphs, charts, diagrams, etc.) should be prepared on a white background in black ink. Lettering should be large enough to be readily legible when the drawing is reduced to two- or one-column width, as much as 4:1 reduction from the original. Include a separate list of figure captions with the manuscript. Original illustrations and photographs must be sent upon acceptance of the paper.

Authors of regular papers are requested to send current biographies (no more than 100 words) and recent photographs at the time of paper acceptance. Electronic photos in .tif and .eps formats are acceptable and preferred to photographs. If photographs are used, they should be glossy prints of high contrast, without spurious marks.

Galley proofs of accepted articles will be sent to the corresponding author.

Color on the Web

As a part of IEEE's ongoing efforts to create tools to make the publication process easier for authors and to reduce costs, IEEE has developed the ability to accept color figures in journals for web-only publication. That is, an author may now submit a color figure with instructions to use the color for display in IEEE Xplore while publishing a black & white figure in the print issue. When a color figure is processed for web-only publication, there is no expense associated with the figure; therefore, the author will not be charged for color. However, color costs will still apply to figures processed for color print publication.

Color images should be formatted and saved using a suitable graphics processing program that will allow the author to create the images as Postscript (PS), Encapsulated Postscript (EPS), or Tagged Image File Format (TIFF), size them, and adjust the resolution settings. If the source files were created in one of the following, you will be able to submit the graphics without converting to a PS, EPS, or TIFF file: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, or Portable Document Format (PDF).

Of course, placing poor quality images into any of these formats will result in poor quality graphics. All color graphics will need to be saved at a resolution of 400 DPI and the size the image will be printed at. The IEEE Publication Office needs hard copy images of the color figs as well as the electronic files.

Submission of Multimedia Material

 T-ASE is now accepting multimedia materials accompanying the submission of a paper. Multimedia can be "playable" files (.mpeg, .avi, .wav, .mov, .midi, etc.) or "dataset" files (e.g., raw data with programs such as Excel to manipulate them). Such material is intended to enhance the contents of a paper, both in clarity and in added value. Please follow IEEE general guidelines for the preparation and submission of multimedia, including the format, description of content, user requirements, the way this material should be referenced to in the body of the paper, etc. See more at "Tools for Authors". In addition, T-ASE requires that such a paper should be self-contained, i.e., fully readable and understandable independently from the multimedia material; and only freely available media players (e.g., QuickTime, RealPlayer, Microsoft Windows Media Player) should be required by users. Multimedia materials should be submitted with a ReadMe file describing the minimum requirements for a user, and should contain a brief description of the multimedia content. The multimedia material will be reviewed together with the submitted paper. Once a paper and its associated multimedia material is accepted, the latter will be available on the T-ASE page within IEEE Xplore, back to back with the pdf file of the paper.

Copyright

It is the policy of the IEEE to own the copyright to the technical contributions it publishes on behalf of the interests of the IEEE, its authors, and their employers; and to facilitate the appropriate reuse of this material by others. To comply with U.S. copyright law, authors of accepted papers are required to complete an IEEE electronic copyright form (ECF) on Manuscript Central when they submit their final package for publication. This form returns to authors and their employers full rights to reuse their material for their own purposes upon request.

Authors of accepted papers can complete the electronic copyright form (EDF) directly on Manuscript Central by going into their Manuscripts with Decisions, then clicking on ECF in the right column for the accepted paper. The ECF will go directly to IEEE.

Page Charges

A voluntary page charge form ($110/page) is sent to the authors of accepted papers with proofs, and the author is encouraged, whenever possible, to make a contribution to defray part of the publication cost. Authors receive 100 free reprints if the charge is honored. A mandatory overlength page charge is imposed on all regular papers whose length exceeds ten TRANSACTIONS pages, including illustrations. This charge is $175 per page of each page over the first ten based on the final typeset length and not on manuscript length, and is a prerequisite for publication. The same policy applies to communications and short papers exceeding six TRANSACTIONS pages.

Ethical Issues

Manuscripts should be original, previously unpublished work not currently submitted to any other publication. It is the responsibility of the authors, not the IEEE, to determine whether disclosure of their material requires the prior consent of other parties and, if so, to obtain it. If authors make use of charts, photographs, or other graphical or textual material from previously published material, the authors are responsible for obtaining written permission to use the material in the manuscript.

IEEE defines plagiarism as the use of someone else's prior ideas, processes, results, or words without explicitly acknowledging the original author and source. Plagiarism in any form is unacceptable and is considered a serious breach of professional conduct, with potentially severe ethical and legal consequences. Self-plagiarism is also unethical. If authors have used their own previously published work(s) as a basis for a new submission, they are required to cite the previous work(s) and briefly indicate how the new submission offers substantively novel contributions beyond those of the previously published work(s).

Multiple submissions to different journals are unacceptable. This applies to the entire period in which a paper is under T-ASE review. It is the responsibility of the authors to clearly spell out the differences of their submitted papers with similar content, and any common part should be clearly indicated. If in doubt, please contact the EiC.

5. Operating Procedures

Paper Handling. IEEE journals have a highly structured and efficient review process. For T-ASE, after a paper of any category is received, it is given a Paper ID. The handling Editor then assigns it to an appropriate Associate Editor, who in turn recruits reviewers. The Associate Editor is asked to read the paper, assimilate the reviews, and make his/her recommendation to the handling Editor. The Editor then analyzes the recommendation and the reviews, makes the final decision, and communicates with the Corresponding Authors. Although most decisions are consistent with the AE's recommendations, this is not always the case. The Editors also serve as trainers for the AEs, and interact with new AEs on quality of the reviews and their interpretation. Communication Items and Book Reviews are also given Paper IDs, but are normally reviewed internally, although outside reviews may be solicited if that is deemed appropriate.

The target durations for the steps are:

  • Reviewers: Six weeks after the assignment
  • AEs: Ten weeks after the assignment
  • Editors: Fourteen weeks after the assignment

Although the above durations can be changed according to the Transactions needs, it is important for each person to know the target durations and try to meet the deadlines.

EiC Assigning a Paper to an Editor. The assignment of a paper to an Editor by the EiC is based on the general areas of interest and workload of the Editors. The revised version of a conditionally accepted paper is assigned to the original Editor, who in particular knows well the amount of changes to the original paper that were needed and therefore can also set locally a deadline for the AE in case his/her intervention is needed.

Editor Assigning a Paper to an AE. In assigning a paper to an AE, the handling Editor should consider AE's primary and secondary areas of expertise and their workload. In view of the wide spread manuscript topics and the limited number of AEs, a paper may not lie within an AE's primary areas of expertise, especially for papers on new topics or interdisciplinary papers. A resubmitted paper is usually assigned to the original AE in view that the authors have revised the paper in compliance with his/her recommendation. In assigning a paper to an AE, the handling Editor should consider AE's primary and secondary areas of expertise and their workload. In view of the wide spread manuscript topics and the limited number of AEs, a paper may not lie within an AE'sprimary areas of expertise, especially for papers on new topics or interdisciplinary papers. A resubmitted paper is usually assigned to the original AE in view that the authors have revised the paper in compliance with his/her recommendation.

Securing Reviewers. When a paper is assigned to an AE by an Editor, the AE has three workdays to decline in view of heavy workload (e.g., already handling too many papers) or the topic is out of the AE's secondary areas of expertise. Otherwise, the AE should glance over the paper to roughly understand what the paper is about, its potential contributions, who are the leading experts in the topic area, etc. For a very weak paper, the AE may write a review and send it to the Editor, who then writes a rejection letter to the authors. By not assigning the paper to reviewers, this would save reviewers' time for future papers. The practice, however, should be used judiciously. For other papers, the AE should secure FOUR reviewers per paper and get their agreement to review the paper by showing them the abstract, and request that the reviews be sent back within a given period of time (six weeks for Regular and Short Papers and four weeks for Communication Items). The names of secured reviewers should be sent immediately to the handling Editor and the Editorial Assistant. Selecting appropriate reviewers is critical to have a quality and timely review process. Candidate reviewers may include leading researchers in the topic area, colleagues who are familiar with the topic, authors of papers on the reference list, and authors of relevant papers that have been previously accepted. A good mix of senior and junior reviewers is desirable as they provide reviews from different perspectives and at different levels of detail, and a mix of reviewers from different geographical regions is also desirable. A key idea to secure reviewers is to align the interest of reviewers with ours: the paper is on a topic that they would really like to see or to say something about. Having reviewers who are interested in going over the manuscript would alleviate the need of repeated sending of reminding messages, and avoid the need for AEs to write detailed comments themselves to supplement shallow and not-to-the-point reviews. Generally, it is not recommended to ask other AEs to be reviewers unless they are directly involved in the subject matter, and it is not recommended either for the handling AE to serve as a reviewer. On the contrary, AEs should constantly look for new reviewers whom they may not know personally. The Web is a powerful tool for doing this, e.g., using IEEE Xplore to identify relevant researchers, and then using search engines such as Yahoo or Google to locate their institutions and email addresses.

Content of a Good Review. The following are suggested questions requiring reviewers to comment:

  • Does the introduction state the purpose of the paper?
  • Is the literature review complete?
  • Is the paper technically sound? If not, why not?
  • Does the author explain the intellectual merit of the method?
  • Does the author explain the significance of the results?
  • What is the overall contribution of the paper?
  • Are the references relevant and complete? Supply missing references.
  • Is the paper clearly written and well organized?
  • If the paper is too long, how can it be shortened?

Also ask reviewers to provide any information to authors that will be useful in revision, in enhancing the appeal of the paper, or in convincing them of the mistakes. Reviews should be specific. If the results are already known, references to earlier papers that contain these or similar results should be provided. If the reasoning is incorrect or vague, where and why should specifically indicated. If the paper should be rewritten, specific suggestions should be given regarding which parts to delete, amplify, or modify. To avoid confusion, the reviewer's specific acceptance or rejection recommendation should not be included in the comments to the author. Sometimes papers are passed on to senior graduate students for review. Some excellent reviews may result from this. It is important, though, that the quality and professionalism of the review be maintained, and the originally assigned reviewer should check the review personally before submitting.

Double Submissions. Upon receiving a manuscript submission, T-ASE confirms with the corresponding author that the paper is original, previously unpublished, and not being considered for publication by any other journal. If this is not the case, the corresponding author should withdraw the paper immediately. T-ASE will not consider papers that are under review or have been accepted by another journal. If a reviewer reported that he/she recently reviewed the same or a similar paper by the same set of authors for a different journal, the AE should report the case to the handling Editor with information as detailed and specific as possible. The Editor should then verify with the corresponding author and possibly with the EiC of the other journal. If the paper is indeed under review by the other journal, then the paper shall be rejected, and the authors should be warned that this is an unacceptable practice. Otherwise, the review process should proceed as normal.

AE Recommendation Letters. When reviews are due, reviewers may need to be reminded. Depending on the tightness of time, the AE may want to wait for more reviews or act immediately. In any case, the AE should be able to act after receiving two solid and consistent reviews. Combining reviewers' comments and AE's own reading of the paper, the recommendation should be impartial, to-the-point, and constructive. In the recommendation, the AE is asked to provide a general summary of the paper, the recommended disposition (accept, conditionally accept, and revise and resubmit, either as a Regular Paper, a Short Paper, or a Communication Item; or reject), the analysis of reviews, justification of the recommendation, and the specifics that the authors should follow in a revision. AEs need to be very specific about reviewers' comments, and clearly indicate which comments MUST be fully addressed, and which only need to be discussed. If the paper should be cut short, the indication of which parts to cut, and on how the paper should be re-organized for better reading should be given. The AE may also want to comment on the relevance of the problem, the adequacy of simulations, numerical testing, or experiments, the clarity in conveying the contributions, etc. It is important to justify our recommendation since the authors may come back to argue against specific points. In preparing the recommendation, AEs should be aware that the material will be processed by the Editor before going to the authors. In doing so, anonymity of the reviewers and of the AE will be preserved. After the decision is made by the Editor, the AE should forward the Editor's decision (including already the comments by the anonymous reviewers) and the AE's recommendation back to all reviewers, and thank them for their effort in evaluating the paper.

Editor Decision Letters. Based on the reviews, AE's recommendation, and Editor's own reading of a paper, the Editor decides the disposition of the paper and communicates with the Corresponding Author. The Editor needs to justify the decision, gives specific revision instructions, and provides resubmission information as appropriate. The authors should not just submit a revised manuscript, but should also state how the comments were addressed in a separate responses file, and the deadline for resubmission for a conditionally accepted paper (60 days from the date of the decision). The identity of the reviewers should be kept strictly confidential, and the AE should also remain anonymous until the publication of the paper where a footnote is provided identifying the AE. Generally the acceptance rate is expected to be around 30%.

Handling Book Reviews. Book Reviews are generally reviewed by an AE and the handling Editor without going out for peer review.

Handling Resubmitted Papers. Conditionally accepted papers have to be resubmitted within 60 days from the date of decision. Depending on the decision made during the previous review cycle, it may be reviewed by the Editor only, by the Editor and the AE only, or also using one or two reviewers of the previous cycle, typically those who have special requests. The review cycle is generally fast (a few weeks). The resubmission of a revise and resubmit paper is not bounded by the 60 day limit. The same original Editor and Associate Editor are usually selected and the paper has to go through a full review cycle possibly with a mix of new and old reviewers. For both conditionally accepted and revise and resubmit papers, authors should provide a separate document detailing the list of changes and how the previous comments were addressed.

Monthly Load Report. A Monthly Load Report is issued at the end of each month by the EiC and the Editorial Assistant on the status of papers currently under review. The report (in the format of an Excel sheet) is sent to all current members of the Editorial Board, to Guest Editors of Special Issues in process, and to past-term Editorial Board members with assigned papers still in review. The Excel sheet includes Paper ID, Date of manuscript submission, the name of the assigned Associate Editor, the name of the handling Senior Editor, the status of the paper within the Review Cycle Included also within the Load Report are the resubmitted papers that were conditionally accepted in the previous review round. Upon receiving the Monthly Load Report, all Editors, Associate Editors, and Guest Editors should check if there is anything that is not consistent with his/her own record. Associate Editors should work with reviewers on papers that were assigned to an Editor more than 90 days before, and try to wrap them up within the following two weeks. Editors should prepare their decision letters as soon as possible for papers on which the AE recommendation is already available. Note that only papers either still in the review process or that have not yet had a final decision by an Editor are listed in the Load Report. If a paper is authored by a member of the Editorial Board, our privacy policy dictates that the paper be listed under the Editor's name rather than under the AE's name.

Special Issues. T-ASE encourages the publication of Special Issues. A proposal for a Special Issue should be submitted to the EiC, with a well-articulated unifying theme that reflects the best work in a particular area of significant importance. Topics can either be areas that are just reaching significant maturity or important emerging areas in which research is likely to be significantly developed by the publication of a collection of excellent papers. The proposals are reviewed and approved by the Senior Editors Panel. Detailed policies on Special Issues can be obtained from the EiC, and the editorial procedures are generally the same as those for regular issues except that Guest Editors play the role of AEs, and an Editor will be assigned to carry out the standard Editor's functionalities. A proposal for a Special Issue may end up only with a Special Section if the number of accepted papers is not sufficient to warrant an issue.

6. Best Paper Awards

At the beginning of each year, T-ASE selects a paper that appeared in the Transactions during the previous calendar year for its Best Paper Award. Candidate papers are nominated by members of the Editorial Board, and the nomination process is simple: Just let the Editorial Assistant know the paper title, authors, issue number, and page numbers. The Editorial Assistant will then compile the reviewers' comments, AE's recommendation, and Editors' decisions from file. Evaluation is done by members of the Senior Editors Panel, with criteria including technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of presentation, and practical significance for applications. The award includes a certificate for each of the co-authors, and a check of $1000 to be divided among the co-authors. The award is presented at the Award Ceremony at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

Additionally, we also have the Googol Technology Best Automation Application Paper Award for at least five years under the generous contribution of Googol Technology (HK) Ltd. The selection criteria are similar to the above, with a special emphasis on the novelty and significance of new applications. The winning co-authors will also receive certificates and share $1,000.

7. Things to Watch

Conflict of Interest. Conflict of interest should be avoided by not asking a person to review a paper who was a student/advisor of one of the authors; who has collaborated with one of the authors within the past four years on a project or co-authored a paper; or who has had a public disagreement with one of the authors within the past four years. Such an issue should be clarified when securing reviewers. Similarly, when an AE (or an Editor) is assigned a paper with which he/she has a conflict of interest as described above, he/she should let the Editor (respectively, the EiC) know the situation and request that the paper be re-assigned.

Intellectual Property Rights. IEEE Policy requires that members of the Editorial Board and reviewers treat the contents of papers under review as privileged information not to be disclosed to others before publication. It is expected that no one with access to a paper under review will make any inappropriate use of the special knowledge gained by the access to the paper. If a member of the Editorial Board is very much interested in the work, the correct procedure is to directly communicate with the author (as a researcher not as a member of the Editorial Board) and check if he/she has recent results on a particular topic, and if he/she is willing to share the results.

Communication Protocol. Efficient communication among members of the Editorial Board is important. Upon receiving a request, please respond as soon as possible, even during a trip. If additional time is needed to provide an answer, the right protocol is to respond immediately with a message informing the inquirer when to expect the answer. Don't leave the loop open for too long.

Reporting Difficulties Early. If difficulties arise in finding appropriate reviewers, in getting a review from a particular reviewer who already agreed to review a paper, having too many papers to handle, or having a family emergency or major professional commitment (e.g., eight months before a major conference for which a major responsibility is involved), Editorial Board members should report the difficulties to Editors and the EiC at an appropriate stage. It is much better to anticipate and report difficulties and obtain help than to simply stop communication while letting papers pile up for major disasters to occur. Similarly, if plagiarism is identified, report the case to the handling Editor and the EiC with specific supporting documentation.

8. Concluding Remarks

Beat the Bushes. As T-ASE is a new journal, we need to beat the bushes to invite top quality papers. Course of action may include sending current Calls for Papers to our colleagues via email, bringing printed copies of the CFPs to conferences, and making personal requests to colleagues for submissions (without guarantee of acceptance). Posting our full-color flyer at conferences and exhibits. Authors of good or award-winning papers from relevant conferences, symposia, or workshops should be encouraged to upgrade their papers and submit them to T-ASE. Please also submit own good papers.

The Roles of Editorial Board. With the advance of the Internet, everyone can post his/her papers on the web. The value of a journal is no longer for dissemination of information only. Rather, the more important aspect is the Seal of Approval for quality. Consequently, enhancing the quality of a journal is more important than ever. Members of the Editorial Board play a key role in this process. It is, therefore, important for us to have a service mentality for quality and timeliness. Our responsibilities are not just for the acceptance or rejection of papers, but for improving paper quality by having a constructive and cultivating review process for better papers as the end product. It is our goal to establish T-ASE as the flagship and most cited journal devoted to Automation by publishing original, significant, and visionary papers describing theory and new applications. The enthusiasm and dedication of members of the Editorial Board and the Advisory Board will be key factors in achieving this goal.

Inquiries. Our home page is at www.ieee-ras.org/tase. All technical correspondence relating to publications should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief. For administrative inquiries, please contact the Editorial Assistant.