Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM)


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Guidelines for Associate Editors of TOSEM

As Associate Editor (AE), you are responsible for reading the submission, assigning reviewers, evaluating the reviews, and ultimately making a recommendation for the acceptance or rejection of the paper. The details of these processes are described below.

Quality and efficiency in reviewing is essential to the success of TOSEM. To publish papers in a timely fashion we ask you to respond to all requests to assign reviewers and make recommendations as quickly as possible. Our standard invitation letter to reviewers asks them to return their reviews within four weeks, although in certain cases we are able to grant an extension beyond four weeks.


Desk Reject Policy

ACM permits both desk rejects and “assisted” desk rejects. Assisted desk rejects are rejections based on the judgment of the EiC or an AE that a paper is either out of scope or so far from acceptable as to make external reviews unnecessary.  Assisted desk rejects may involve obtaining one outside review to corroborate an AE's judgment.  

Articles may be desk-rejected for the following reasons:

  • - topic is clearly out of scope, irrelevant, or outdated
  • - the work clearly does not meet sufficient standards of novelty or quality of presentation
  • - there is plagiarism, self-plagiarism, or simultaneous submission
  • - the manuscript is incomplete, over the page limit, or incorrectly formatted
  • - the manuscript does not otherwise meet the basic standards of scholarship for TOSEM

All refereed articles accepted for publication need to have three qualified reviews. Soliciting fewer than three reviews is fine for clear reject cases, but not sufficient for articles that are accepted (including articles that undergo at least one round of revisions).  In all cases, the final decision is within the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief.

Authors have the right to appeal such decisions.

Plagiarism Checking

When you view a paper, you will see a tab titled “Manuscript Information”. Click on the tab to find more information on the paper. Scroll down to “Plagiarism Check – iThenticate”, select the file for submission to iThenticate (typically the main PDF submitted), and then click Submit.  It will take a few minutes to generate the report, after which you can find the results of the similarity check to see whether the paper has a large overlap with any published work. By ACM policy, conference papers must have at least 25 percent new material, see If you find the paper has too much similarity with an existing published work, either reject the paper or contact the Editor-in-Chief for discussion.

Review Procedures

An AE is responsible for finding at least three (3) appropriate reviewers with the necessary knowledge and experience for a manuscript, and for supervising the review process until a decision is reached. There are three steps to the invitation process:

  • - Select
  • - Assign
  • - Invite

Assigning reviewers:

  1. Log in to Manuscript Central.
  2. Via the Associate Editor Dashboard, click on the “Awaiting Referee Selection” queue.
  3. Click on “View Submission” to view the paper.
  4. Click on “Take Action”.
  5. Scroll down to see the results returned from Referee Locator (see below).  Select one of the reviewers found by Referee Locator or one suggested by the authors, or search for an existing reviewer in the system, or create a new reviewer account.  Some authors will also list referees that they prefer you not to invite.  NOTE: Before creating a new account for a reviewer, use the reviewer search option to see if there is an account already in the system. This will allow you to choose an existing Manuscript Central account. Please also check whether the email address of the reviewer is still valid.
  6. Click on “Add/Grant REF Role” to assign the selected reviewer.
  7. Click on the “Invite” button to view the draft invitation letter, personalize it if you wish, and then send it out.

A reviewer should be able to accept or decline the task automatically. However, in some cases, a separate step must be taken to mark the reviewer as Agreed or otherwise, in the system.

To make an immediate decision, such as in the case of a desk reject, change the value of "# reviews required to make decision" from the default value of 3 to 2, 1, or even 0 (for instance, in case of minor revisions to be verified by you only).

Referee Locator:
When a paper is submitted, the Manuscript Central Referee Locator tool automatically finds a pool of potential reviewers using an algorithm that looks at the article title, abstracts, keywords, and other metadata contained in the submission. It then compares that information with published papers in the Web of Science from the last five years. 

A pool of potential reviewers is then auto-suggested.  A list of up to 30 reviewers is provided in order of relevancy, providing e-mail addresses as well as links into the Web of Science to view information about their published papers. 

This feature is not intended to replace your AE experience, knowledge, or judgment in selecting reviewers. However, it is one additional tool you will have access to in your search for reviewers.

Review Supervision: 

The system automatically sends out reminder emails to the referees. However, automated reminders are easy to ignore, so you, as AE, should check your Associate Editor Center frequently to maintain a reasonable turnaround time for the reviews.

Review Deadline:

To grant a review deadline extension to a reviewer:

  1. Go to the Associate Editor Dashboard.
  2. Search for the paper (via Manuscript ID or via Manuscript Title).
  3. Click on “Take Action”.
  4. Click on “Grant an extension” underneath the referee’s name.
  5. Set the new due date.

You may also ask the TOSEM Editorial Assistant to grant such extensions.

Making a preliminary decision:
For each review you will receive an e-mail notification; when all the reviews are completed, you should make your preliminary recommendation that will be sent to the Editor-in-Chief for approval.  This decision should take into consideration your own opinion of the paper, as well as the general consensus of the referees.

  1. Find a paper in the AE Dashboard, “Awaiting AE Recommendation” queue.
  2. Select the paper, then click on “Take Action”.
  3. Select a recommendation, then write in your comments to the EiC and Author.
  4. Click on “Create Draft E-mail” and include your comments there as well, and then save the draft.
  5. Click on “Send for Approval” to direct the draft e-mail and your comments to the Editor-in-Chief.

For TOSEM, there are four decision options:

  • - Accept a paper when a submission is excellent, and there are no suggestions for improvement.
  • - Choose Minor Revision when you feel the paper should be accepted after slight revisions.
  • - Choose Major Revision if a paper has real potential, but a large component should be redone and fully re-reviewed.
  • - Reject a paper when the submission does not meet publication standards.

Handling a revised paper:

When a revision is submitted, it will typically be reassigned to you as AE.

  • - For a resubmission of a paper with Minor Revisions, check that the authors have completed the necessary corrections, and then send out for re-review to one or more of the previous reviewers, or else make your decision immediately as described above.
  • - For a resubmission with major revisions, the original reviewers will be automatically loaded into the system and readied for invitation. However, you must take action to invite some or all of them to review the revised paper.

Accessing Previous Versions of a Revision:

You have access to all versions of a manuscript. Revisions are indicated by a revision number appended to the manuscript ID (e.g., R1 or R2). To view decision-related correspondence regarding a previous version, scroll down to “Version History” and click on the “Switch Details” button.

Revised and resubmitted files will also include a link to the Author’s response.

When you are on a task-related tab, such as “Invite Reviewers”, the version history will appear on the right side of the screen. Clicking on the “View Review Details” for the previous version will give you the Author’s Response, Decision Letter, and Reviews.

For further instructions:
Refer to the ScholarOne tutorial for editors or contact the TOSEM Editor-in-Chief or Editorial Assistant.

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