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Purpose of Refereeing

Refereeing for IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials has three functions: to provide feedback on articles that guarantees a high-quality publication, to provide feedback to authors that may assist them in preparing quality manuscripts for submission in the future, and to classify the article in its appropriate category.

Referees should check the content of articles carefully to determine whether the submitted article is either a tutorial or a survey, and, if so, whether it has been placed in the appropriate category. Where the article is neither a tutorial nor a survey, referees should identify the type of article that would be most appropriate and make recommendations for appropriate content. For example, a statement of the following form: "In its current form the article is neither a tutorial nor a survey, but it is closer to being a survey. Sections 2 and 3 should be removed and replaced by more material on the deployment of IP-6. IEEE JSAC seems to have been neglected as a source of articles; this must be remedied."

Referees should strive to offer feedback that is useful to the authors in revising their manuscripts for publication or rewriting a manuscript for resubmission to IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials at a later date. In order to assure consistency with the directions provided to authors, referees should consult the Information for Authors. The former option is appropriate for those articles that have sufficient technical content so that judicious revisions can result in a high-quality article for publication. The latter option is appropriate when the author (s) submitted an article that is not appropriate for publication, or even consideration, in IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials. In the latter case the referee report should contain sufficient information to allow the author to understand the type of article that is appropriate. Indeed, it is probably appropriate to have a canned description that can be used. Referees should be clear about whether they are asking for a revision that is expected to render the article publishable or they are asking for a revision that should be submitted as a new article and are rejecting the old one. With respect to the latter, statements such as "The article in its current form is not appropriate for publication in IEEE Communications and Surveys. On the other hand, there are several ideas that, if developed, could lead to a tutorial of great interest to  the readers of IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials. For example, ..." are entirely appropriate.

Considerations Concerning Suitability for Publication

Value to readers. The usefulness to readers is the single most important issues for the referee to consider. Articles should be timely, relevant, tutorially oriented, and none redundant.

Technical correctness. Everything that is said must be technically correct. Technical sloppiness must be pointed out in every instance to the best of the ability of the referee.

Tutorial content. Referees should be aware that the primary purpose of IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials is to inform readers on topics of interest to the communications community. Articles must be written in a style that is understandable to the general practitioner in the communications field as well as to the communications specialist practicing in a different area. Key concepts must be clearly explained.

Tutorials should cite selected articles or texts that provide background needed to read the article and additional reference material where study can be continued. Choice of reference materials should be considered carefully; that is, the author should include reference that can help the reader the most. Referees should identify unnecessary references and recommend their deletion.

Surveys should have comprehensive references. Where references are neglected, the referee should strive to correct the deficiencies by either offering specific citations or pointing the author in the right direction. For example, the referee might suggest that the authors consult the "last four years of IEEE PCS, IEEE Communications, or ACM CCR for relevant articles, especially those of a survey nature."

Style. Referees should carefully assess whether or not the scope of the article is too broad or two narrow. All material included should be germane to the main topic of the tutorial or survey, and omission of material directly related to the topic should be kept to a minimum. Referees should identify superfluous material that could result in confusion to the reader, especially in the case of tutorials.

Referees should feel at liberty to suggest additional material for inclusion in the article. Again, the primary consideration is the value to the reader, and referees should not be shy about asking for additions that increase the value of the article to the reader.

Style. Referees should not hesitate to point out approaches that they think would make the article more useful. Statements such "In the judgment of the referee, the article could be made a lot more effective if section 3 were deleted and a reference to Vargus's Understanding Statistics was made." Similarly, referees should not hesitate to suggest the addition of figures or illustrations to enhance readability.

Need for or timeliness of the article. The article must be none redundant in the sense that there are not already appropriate tutorially-oriented articles readily accessible to the readers of IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials. The article must be of interest to the communications community in the sense that it covers a topic that either uses communications technology or impacts communications.

Archival value. Archival value is not a major consideration for articles in IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials. Timeliness and need are the most important considerations. However, referees should strive to help the authors to develop articles that will have impact over the longest possible period.

Guidelines for Reviewers  

Summary of guidelines for review of manuscripts submitted to IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials for consideration for publication. It is recommended that this outline is used as a review form.

  • Provide a one-paragraph description of the content of this manuscript.
  • Identify and discuss the contribution of this manuscript. Please include in your discussion items such as the following:
  • Does the paper have significant tutorial content? That is, is there enough background provided so that the generalist in communications can understand its main contributions? Elaborate.
    • Does the paper contain original contributions? What is the nature of the contributions?
    • Is there a description of lessons learned that are given to the reader to help the reader avoid pitfalls in his own work?
    • Is there a need for a paper such as this in the communications community? For example, are there articles that are already available which cover more or less the same topic at about the same depth?
  • Discuss the quality of the citations in this manuscript. If you think the citations should be improved, please provide specific references or sources of articles, such as journals or magazines, that should be consulted.
  • Comment on the organization of the paper, and offer any suggestions that you think will improve the  paper and its readability.
  • Comment on the technical correctness of the manuscript in general, identify any specific technical inaccuracies that you find, and make suggestions for correcting those.
  • If the manuscript does not require major revision, provide a list of minor changes, such as spelling or grammatical errors, that need to be made.
  • Use the format "p. 7., l. 18 somth ==> smooth" to mean  "on line18 of page 7, correct the spelling from somth to smooth."
  • Provide a summary comment on the overall suitability of the paper for publication in IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials, assuming the recommended revisions are made. For example, if this is an outstanding contribution, please so state. If a major revision is needed, please so state. If the manuscript requires major editing, please so state.