Spatial Algorithms and Systems (TSAS)


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Information and Guidelines for Reviewers

Thank you for agreeing to review a paper for ACM TSAS. The editorial board of TSAS is committed to publishing the most interesting and stimulating papers on spatial algorithms and systems. We do this by reviewing papers with great care and expertise, and carrying out that reviewing and publishing efficiently and rapidly.

Efficient reviewing is essential to the success of TSAS. To publish papers in a timely fashion, we allow two months from receipt of the paper to prepare a TSAS review. It is important that you commit to this timeframe. Otherwise the entire publication pipeline begins to slow down.

Encourage diversity in our published papers and you will help make TSAS interesting. We want to also encourage creative and imaginative papers, those that stimulate and provoke as well as enlighten. We will stand in the mainstream, but also welcome papers that are clever, or surprising, or present radical new directions for spatial algorithms and systems.

Review compassionately and you can make the difference between a mediocre paper lost forever and one that is revised to publication quality and contributes to the field. Please write reviews that are meaningful for the author. Speak in particulars, not generalities. Never characterize the authors. Give constructive criticism when discussing a problem. If there are major flaws, identify them as clearly as possible.

Be positive in order to make the best impact; consider each paper in its best possible sense. Look for the most useful and interesting ideas. Try to make suggestions to the author that will make the paper as good as it can be, whether it is already wonderful or in great need of help.

Protect Confidentiality

As a TSAS reviewer, you have the responsibility to protect the confidentiality of the ideas represented in the submitted papers. TSAS submissions are by their very nature not published documents. The work is considered new or proprietary by the authors; otherwise they would not have submitted it. Protection of the ideas in the paper you receive means:

  • Do not show the paper to anyone else, including colleagues or students, unless you have asked them to write a review, or to help with your review.
  • Do not show videos to non-reviewers.
  • Do not use ideas from the paper to develop new ones, until the paper has been published.

Avoid Conflicts of Interest

Even though you would, of course, act impartially on any paper, there should be absolutely no question about the impartiality of the review. Thus, if you are assigned a paper where your review would create a possible conflict of interest, you should return the paper and not submit a review. Conflicts of interest are similar in spirit to those that an author has with preferred reviewers including (but not limited to) situations in which:

  • The reviewer works at the same institution as one of the authors.
  • The reviewer has been directly involved in the work and will be receiving credit in some way. If the reviewer is a member of one of the authors’ thesis committee, and the paper is about his or her thesis work, then the reviewer is involved.
  • The reviewer suspects that others might see a conflict of interest in their involvement. For example, even though Microsoft Research in Seattle and Beijing are in some ways more distant than Berkeley and MIT, there is likely to be a perception that they are "both Microsoft", so folks from one division of a company should not review papers from another division of the same company.
  • The reviewer collaborated with one of the authors in the past three years (more or less). Collaboration is usually defined as having written a paper or a grant proposal together, although the reviewer should use their judgment. For instance, being coauthors in either a course or survey paper generally should not in itself lead to a conflict of interest.
  • The reviewer was the MS/PhD advisor of one of the authors or the MS/PhD advisee of one of the authors. Funding agencies typically consider advisees to represent a lifetime conflict of interest.
  • The reviewer has unpublished work that would get scooped by the current submission because it tackles the same problem using a similar approach. At a minimum, such a cross-reviewing conflict should be declared to the editor in a private comment.

Remain Anonymous

All reviewers are expected to maintain anonymity forever. In particular, it is never appropriate for a reviewer to reveal himself or herself to the authors of an accepted paper, as this could be perceived as an attempt to curry favor. Requesting citations primarily to one's own work may thwart anonymity, so should be carefully considered. Be professional

Belittling or sarcastic comments may help display one's wit, but they are unnecessary in the reviewing process. The most valuable comments in a review are those that help the authors understand the shortcomings of their work and how they might improve it.

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