Automatica, December 1996, Volume 32, No. 12


Electronic submission and review of Technical Communiqués and Correspondence Items


With immediate effect, Automatica is starting an experiment with the electronic submission of Technical Communiqués and Correspondence Items for review.

Final manuscripts of all categories of papers may already be submitted in the form of LaTeX or other files on disk since about a year ago. Roughly about half of the final versions are now being received as LaTeX files. For the benefit of those authors who use the Elsevier elsart style file to prepare their final manuscript for Automatica recently an annotated sample file has been released. It may be retrieved by accessing the Editor-in-Chief's Internet site.

By exchanging manuscripts and reviews by Internet obviously significant savings of postage and time may be realized. On the other hand, although many researchers and engineers have access to Internet and its facilities these days, not everyone has the inclination or patience to learn to master all its intricacies. Therefore an effort has been made is to make the procedures for electronic manuscript exchange and review submissions as simple and transparent as possible.

If the experience with the electronic submissions is favorable then the experiment will be extended to all categories of submissions. In the meantime, expect that procedures may be changed and adapted without notice.

There are two sides to the operation: the electronic submission of documents, and the electronic review procedure.

Electronic submission of manuscripts for review

Technical Communiqués and Correspondence Items may be submitted electronically in one of two file formats: as postscript files (extension ps) or as portable document files (extension pdf). The latter format has been developed by Adobe for exchanging electronic documents over many platforms. The viewer Acrobat Reader, which is needed to inspect and print pdf files, is freely available and is known from for instance the CDROM with the Proceedings of the 1996 IFAC Congress. Pdf files provide the same quality as postscript files but are more compact and may be password protected.

The files may be submitted by remote file transfer (ftp) or as a MIME attachment to an e-mail message. In both cases a cover message is needed. For the ftp and e-mail addresses and further instructions consult the Editor-in-Chief's Internet site.

The electronic review procedure

While papers are under review, their files need to be available to the reviewers. Access is provided through the Editor-in-Chief's site, which has a list of the log numbers of the Technical Communiqués and Correspondence Items under electronic review. The files themselves are protected by password or otherwise. They may be viewed and downloaded by the reviewers only. If the author or authors explicitly grant permission then the file and title of the paper under review are posted for access by the general public. After a decision on publication has been taken the files are removed from the site.

The reviewers, naturally, are approached by e-mail. They receive instructions on how to view and retrieve the file of the paper they are asked to review. An electronic review form is provided. Reviews may also be submitted in free format by e-mail or regular mail as long as they contain the information requested in the standard form.

Pages 1 and 2 of the Automatica electronic review form


The Editor-in-Chief's site also offers other useful information, such as the complete cumulative table of contents since 1963 (which may be searched by specifying keywords), and a list of papers that have been accepted for publication and will appear in forthcoming issues.

A word on scope and quality

Technical Communiqués offer "New useful ideas and brief pertinent comments of a technical nature." They are an excellent and fast way to announce new results. The submissions in this category have been increasing in number lately. Like all other submissions they are handled promptly but Technical Communiqués are published more quickly than papers in other categories because of their limited size and scope. They are reviewed as thoroughly as papers in other categories. Their length is limited to four printed pages.

Correspondence Items consist of letters to the editor or to authors commenting on previously published papers. In the latter case, the Editor will give the authors an opportunity to respond. Correspondence Items cannot be longer than two printed pages.

Concluding remarks

The electronic submission on disk of the final version of a papers of any category is not affected by the experiment. See the Information for Authors for instructions.

For the experiment with electronic submissions for review to be a success we need to assemble a group of modern-spirited reviewers who have stepped over the threshold of the Internet world. Associate Editor Chaouki Abdallah of the University of New Mexico has been specially recruited to assist in this experiment. In six months or so I will report about it.

Huibert Kwakernaak

Editor-in-Chief, Automatica