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Proposing a Special Issue Topic

The IEEE Communications Magazine (ComMag) is always soliciting Special Issue (SI) proposals. An SI is a group of papers organized around a timely narrow-scope topic of interest to the magazine readership. SIs give papers prominence and provide opportunities for the reader to explore new and emerging topics.

Potential Guest Editors (GEs) interested in organizing a Special Issue are invited to submit their proposal through the IEEE ComMag Manuscript Central after discussing it through e-mail with the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief (EiC) and Associate Editor-in-Chief (AEiC). The proposal should address the issues’s background and motivation, scope, its significance, timeliness, and relevance to the IEEE ComMag.

The proposal should also include:

  • Manuscript Submission Deadline (t0, typically a minimum of 3 months after proposal submission)
  • Decision Notification (t0+3 months, cf. IEEE 90-day period for initial decision)
  • Final Manuscript Due (t0+5 months, cf. production timelines)
  • Publication Date (tentative proposal, would depend on publication calendar): t0+7 months
  • A plan to advertise the Call for Papers (CFP)
  • Short biographies of the GEs and their experience in the topic and in editorial work (not exceeding 250 words each), and
  • Draft of the CFP (attached separately).

Some of the requirements for an acceptable SI proposal include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Proposers should examine the scopes of ComMag Series, other Special Issues published in the last 18 months, and SIs scheduled for publication (posted on ComMag website). We will consider new hot topics, not already covered by ComMag (currently or recently), and expect proposed SIs to have minimum overlap, if any, with our Series and other Special Issues. Topics of interest should have the potential to uniquely contribute to the magazine.
  2. An SI must have a short and catchy title that attracts our broad and diverse readership.
  3. An SI must have narrow and well-focused scope on a particular issue and should not be too broad. We are looking for new and creative ideas to complement our other publication tracks, not duplicating them.
  4. For each SI, a maximum of 4 Guest Editors (GEs) are expected (including the lead GE), where:
  5. Each GE should add a unique aspect to the team and each must have a particular role.
  6. All GEs should contribute to the solicitation and review processes; and must fully respect IEEE ComMag policies. The proposal should explain how the GEs will work together.
  7. The selection of GEs must strike a good geographical balance and a balance between academia and industry.
  8. GEs must have prior experience with ComMag (as authors, reviewers, and/or editors); and the lead GE must have significant experience in this regard. We encourage proposals led by ComMag ATEs and TEs.
  9. The team should mix experience with youth, and may not include GEs who were ComMag GEs within the last 18 months at least.

 Organizing a Special Issue

  1. Guest Editors (GEs) should be aware of all IEEE ComMag’s policies, including Manuscript Submission Guidelines, Reviewers Guidelines, and Manuscript Publishing Guidelines.
  2. They MUST fully respect and implement these guidelines and MUST understand that failure to do so, and/or to deliver manuscripts on time, may result in cancellation of the SI at any point in time.
  3. Under current IEEE Communications Society magazines’ policy, GEs are prohibited from publishing articles they (co-)authored in their own Special Issue. GEs are responsible, however, for authoring a Guest Editorial that introduces the SI and is published as a preamble of it.
  4. Submissions to the SI should be made based on an open call for articles, not personal invitations. Individual authors can be encouraged to write a paper but with an understanding that all submissions must comply with the Manuscript Submission Guidelines, and must go through the same peer review process without any assurance of acceptance.
  5. If a Special Issue proposal is accepted, the EiC/AEiC will schedule the SI for a specific publication date after discussing this schedule with the GEs. The Guest Editors should then start to advertise the CFP.
  6. If possible, the CFP will be advertised in the magazine. However, advertising a CFP is the responsibility of the GEs, who should not rely only on publishing the CFP in the IEEE ComMag and/or its web site. Guest Editors must advertise the CFP per their proposal plan, through the IEEE Communication Society’s Technical Committees, mail lists, conference flyers, newsletters, and through their own professional networks. They are responsible for properly informing potential authors about the importance of following and respecting Manuscript Submission Guidelines.
  7. All paper submissions must be through the IEEE ComMag’s Manuscript Central (MC). Manuscript management, reviewing, and communications with authors/reviewers should be done through MC. The SI will have an MC account/submission-category and the GEs will have access to it along with an associated email account. When a new paper is properly uploaded, this email account will be notified by MC. If an assigned reviewer does not have an account, GEs can create a new reviewer account. GEs must check their email account regularly until final decisions are made about all articles submitted to their SI (including articles which the processing of may continue after the Special Issue is published).
  8. Submission deadlines are firmly respected and are not subject to change in any principle. A request for a short extension can only be approved in very special and limited circumstances. Such requests must be submitted only to the EiC/AEiC.
  9. A Special Issue schedule may often not accommodate acceptance of manuscripts requiring Major Revisions because these manuscripts need to go through a second, or more, round(s) of review before acceptance. However, the GEs remain responsible for handling such manuscripts. If they are properly revised and eventually found acceptable, they can be published later under the Open Call track.
  10. Note that if a manuscript’s decision is Accept with Minor Revisions, the authors do not upload a revised manuscript, but are expected to make these minor revisions in the final paper they send to the publications staff directly.
  11. The EiC/AEiC may assign a Series Editor or Technical Editor to serve as a liaison to the Guest Editors. The Liaison Editor will have access to the articles and reviews, will provide the GEs with help and advice, and oversee the progress toward a committed schedule. The Liaison Editor is not intended to duplicate or replace the duties of the Guest Editors. The Liaison Editor does not review articles but may be requested by the EiC/AEiC to scan the final accepted articles and their reviews to verify conformance with the IEEE ComMag’s guidelines for format, style, and quality.

Manuscript Format/Style Guidelines Emphasized

GEs MUST observe the magazine’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines carefully, and must understand that they are not optional, and that GEs are not at liberty to exempt any submission from them. Besides by not complying with format guidelines, a manuscript may be immediately rejected without review. It may also be immediately rejected without review if it is out of scope of the SI, has been previously published, has been submitted elsewhere at the same time, or if it is clearly better suited as a journal or a conference paper. If a submission is judged to be outside the scope of the SI but otherwise has merit within the broader scope of the magazine, the EiC/AEiC should be notified to redirect it to another publication track.

Guidelines to Writing a Special Issue Editorial

GEs are required to prepare an editorial for their papers. The editorial should introduce the papers in the order of their appearance and should address the significance, impact, practical usefulness, and future directions of the topic of the papers. Perhaps most important, it should convey the editors' enthusiasm to the readers. An editorial which does little more than describing each paper will not be acceptable. For 3-4 accepted papers, the editorial (roughly 800 words plus short editors’ bios and editors’ photographs) must not exceed one magazine page. For 5-12 accepted papers, the editorial (roughly 1600 words plus short editors’ bios and editors’ photographs) must not exceed two magazine pages. They are to be accompanied with the color photographs of each editor. Digital photographs in .tif format with at least 300-dpi resolution are preferable.

Using Manuscript Central

  • Log in with your User ID and Password at Manuscript Central. You may update your password and edit your information.
  • Click on "Guest Editor Center.” To see all the manuscripts assigned to you, click on "Original Manuscripts" in the left frame. Or to search, insert information about a specific paper (e.g., author's name) on the right and click "Search.” Note that your designation will be "Guest Editor" on any paper for which you are the assigned editor.
  • Download the articles by clicking on the paper title. In the next window, click on the paper's title again. The file will be downloaded to your hard drive and opened by the appropriate application.
  • Familiarize yourself with the paper. Once you decide if a paper is to be either rejected without review or submitted to the review process, return to the manuscripts page, and click on the "View Details" button for the paper you are working on. Find the "Guest Editor Actions" section and do one of the following:
    • If you choose to recommend rejecting the paper without a review, click the "Make Recommendation" button. In the next window, go to the "Post Recommendation" block and click the "Post Recommendation" button. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select the "Rejected" radio button. You may add information to the two comment blocks at the top of the page as you see fit. Click "Send to the Editor-in-Chief" button.
    • If you choose to submit the paper to the review process, click the "Assign or Remove Reviewer" button. In the next window, follow the "Instructions" in the box in the lower half of the page. You must assign a minimum of three reviewers to the paper.  We suggest that you assign more than three (up to five), because often a reviewer will be late with a review or never completes the task; and, generally, the more reviewers there are (up to five), the easier it is for the Guest Editors to make a good decision, and the better the quality of the published paper.
  • You will be notified by email when the review is complete. Read the review(s) carefully and rate them. To make a decision recommendation once a minimum of three reviews are completed, return to the Editorial Board Center of Manuscript Central. Click "Original Manuscripts: Manage Reviewers and Make Recommendations" in the left column, and then click "View Details" for the paper you are working on. Scroll down to the second from the bottom block and click "View Review Form" for each Reviewer. To see any documents that the Reviewer may have added to their evaluation or to add your own documents, click the "Attach Files" button below the "View Review Form" button. When you are ready to make a recommendation, go to the "Guest Editor Actions" block and select the "Make Recommendation" button. Scroll down to click "Post Recommendation" when you are ready to send your recommendation to the EiC/AEiC. Fill out the form and enter your comments. When you are finished, click "Send to Editor-in-Chief” and then click "Send Letter."

GEs can download a PDF of the Manuscript Central instructions by clicking on the "Guest Editor Center Guide" in the Guest Editor Center. Please contact IEEE Support if Manuscript Central is not functioning according to the Guide.


Typically, a Special Issue processing cycle (from submission deadline through publication) takes about 6-7 months. Final manuscript material is due for submission by the authors two months before the publication month.

Public Consultation

In order to increase quality of SIs, once they are published in the website, a 1-month period will be open to receive public feedback for improvement (or even suspension). Please send that feedback to EiC/AEiCs/liaison editor (if applicable) & GEs (the latter not applicable in case feedback is about them.)

Submission of Accepted-Papers Final Material

GEs should instruct authors to read their final decision letters carefully as well as the Manuscript Publishing Guidelines page in order to properly submit the final materials of accepted papers.

Guidelines for Proposing a New ComMag Series Based on a Successful Special Issue

ComMag publishes SIs to complement its Series and Open Call publication tracks.

An SI is considered successful if it receives a high number of original submission, thereby revealing that the communications community is active on the corresponding topic. Moreover a successful SI brings to publication a high number of papers. If an SI attracts many submissions in its first appearance, Guest Editors are allowed to request scheduling of a second submission window and a corresponding second appearance, with a possibly revised CfP. If both appearances are successful, the SI becomes a candidate for being transformed into a Series. At least 100 original submissions across all appearances of the same SI and an acceptance rate in line with ComMag Series indicate that the SI has been successful.

Normally, the topics addressed by SI are expected to remain of interest to the ComMag readership over a shorter time span compared to Series. However, when a topic is envisaged to remain of high interest for longer, it is worth considering to plan a periodic appearance of articles on that topic, in other words: a ComMag Series.

The following necessary conditions should be checked before proposing the conversion to Series:

  1. The Special Issue must be successful (according to the above criteria) and recent, i.e., its publication issue (the earlier issue, if on multiple issues) is not older than 6 months from the date of the proposal submission.
  2. For all accepted papers, there must be consensus among reviewers on the following aspects (through corresponding reader interest questions in the review form):
    1. The topic is important within its field of specialization, and
    2. The paper is of current interest to the Magazine's readership, and
    3. The interest is likely to grow over the next five years.
  3. The new Series should have small or (preferably) no overlap with the scopes of preexisting Series or other recent SIs.

SI Guest Editors who are interested in proposing a new Series based on their recent SI should submit a detailed proposal, containing what follows:

  • A thorough motivation for initiating the Series
  • At least two candidate Series Editors, and their qualifications (strong research record on the subject)
  • A draft Series Call for Papers that defines accurately the Series scope
  • Expected input flow (average number of papers per month) and expected output flow (average number of accepted papers per month), or number of appearances per year and average number of papers per appearance.

The EiC and AEiCs will evaluate the proposal and decide whether to accept or not the proposal. The decision will be final and cannot be appealed.