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There is no review form for TOSEM. (Experience suggests that fixed evaluation forms are not customised enough to one paper or another; responses to a multiple-choice questionnaire do not carry much information for the editor and the authors.) A review typically contains four parts: (a) a summary of what the reviewer considers to be the paper's main achievements, (b) an overall evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the paper (according to various criteria, see below), (c) a recommendation that logically follows (accept, minor revision required, major revision required, reject), and (d) detailed comments. These four parts are communicated anonymously to the authors. The reviewer may also wish to make confidential remarks for the TOSEM Editorial Board only. It is most important that reviews be as informative and constructive as possible.
Papers for TOSEM must be of high quality and fall within the scope of the journal. There are four main ingredients to an acceptable paper:
Few papers excel in all of these, but a sub-standard level in any is sufficient ground for major revision or rejection.
An acceptable paper should contain: (a) motivation and clear objectives, (b) demonstration of novelty and superiority compared to related work, (c) evidence of effectiveness, reproducibility, scalability, and practical relevance. The paper should conform to generally accepted practices for scientific papers with respect to organization, style and language.
Theoretical or methodological papers should clearly show how the results presented may contribute to software engineering practice. Papers on specific systems should concentrate on technical and architectural issues rather than providing feature-by-feature descriptions. Experimental papers should describe the experimental method used and interpret the results in terms of practice. Experience reports on the use of advanced software engineering techniques are in principle excluded unless they provide thoughtful insights about the development world or the application of a technology, that result in the identification of new important challenges for software engineering research. All papers should clearly indicate what is new and significant about the work presented and how it compares with related work. Every claim must be substantiated through detailed arguments. Conciseness and technical precision are other important requirements (typical counter-examples are: concepts being used without being defined, a same concept being referred to under multiple terms, a same term referring to multiple concepts, etc.).
In general, minor revisions are checked by the associate editor in charge of the paper whereas major revisions are re-reviewed by the original reviewers. In both cases the authors are asked to prepare a cover letter detailing how they addressed the various reviewers' concerns.
You should have received instructions about how to submit your report through Manuscript Central. (If you have troubles submitting your report this way, please email firstname.lastname@example.org). An anonymous copy of your review will be sent to the authors as well as to all reviewers, who will also be informed about the editorial decision.
All manuscripts are to be treated confidentially. Please do not distribute or reference a manuscript under consideration without an author's permission. Reviewers' names are not disclosed to authors, so contacting an author can only be done at your discretion.
Publishing a high-quality research journal requires a tremendous commitment by the reviewers who give of their time and knowledge. The TOSEM readers, authors, associate editors, and editor-in-chief owe much to the thoughtful comments you will provide.