Instructions for Referees

The SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization (SICON) depends heavily on our referees, and we are greatly indebted for maintaining the quality and timeliness of our journal. Thank you for your help in assessing manuscripts.

Editorial Policy

The SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization publishes original research articles on the mathematics and applications of control theory and certain parts of optimization theory. Papers considered for publication must be significant at both the mathematical level and the level of applications or potential applications. Papers containing mostly routine mathematics or those with no discernible connection to control theory or optimization will not be considered for publication. From time to time, the journal will also publish authoritative surveys of important subject areas in control theory and optimization whose level of maturity permits a clear and unified exposition.

The broad areas mentioned above are intended to encompass a wide range of mathematical techniques and scientific, engineering, economic, and industrial applications. These include stochastic and deterministic methods in control, estimation, and identification of systems; modeling and realization of complex control systems; the numerical analysis and related computational methodology of control processes and allied issues; and the development of mathematical theories and techniques that give new insights into old problems or provide the basis for further progress in control theory and optimization. Within the field of optimization, the journal specializes in those parts of the theory concerned with the dynamics of deterministic or stochastic systems in continuous or discrete time or otherwise dealing with differential equations, dynamics, infinite-dimensional spaces, or fundamental issues in variational analysis and geometry. Contributions to numerical methodology are also welcome in accordance with these aims, especially as related to large-scale problems and decomposition as well as to fundamental questions of convergence and approximation.

Due to space limitations, papers will generally be limited to 20 journal pages. This limit may be exceeded; however, deviation from the page limit will require that the author justify the added length and that the referees and editors be convinced that a longer paper is necessary. Long papers that are split into multiple parts may, at the discretion of the editorial board, be treated as a single submission and justification of the overall length of the combined manuscripts may be required.

Submission of a manuscript to a SIAM journal is representation by the author that the manuscript has not been published or submitted simultaneously for publication elsewhere. Papers that have appeared in conference proceedings, or that have appeared elsewhere only in abbreviated form, may be considered for publication if significantly revised. If a paper has appeared previously, in any form, authors must clearly indicate this in both their cover letter and a footnote on the first page of the paper.

Review Process

The manuscript submission and peer review process is broken down into the following steps:

  1. The Author submits a manuscript.
  2. The Editor-in-Chief assigns a Corresponding Editor and an Associate Editor to handle the review of the manuscript.
  3. The Associate Editor selects Referees to review and report on the manuscript.
  4. The Referees review the manuscript.
  5. The Associate Editor makes a recommendation, which is then reviewed by the Corresponding Editor. The author is contacted with the decision.

Navigating the System

All SICON papers go through review in the web-based Journal Submission & Tracking System;

When invited to serve as a referee there are two ways to gain access to the manuscript.

  1. You'll receive an e-mail with basic information about the paper, a link to accept the assignment, and a link to decline the assignment.

    Accept referee assignment: If you accept, the link will automatically log you into the system and take you directly to the files for the pertinent paper.

    Decline referee assignment: If you are unable to review this manuscript and must decline we appreciate any suggestions of potential referees. You can suggest other reviewers or offer any observation on the paper by e-mailing

  2. You can alternately access your files by logging into the system through using your user name and password. You are then taken to your "Home" page. It will list your assignments. If an item is pending, there will be a red arrow next to a manuscript link. After clicking the link, you will see a screen containing:
    • Information about the specific manuscript.
    • A link to see the manuscript
    • Links to Accept/Decline to serve as a referee
    • A link to contact journal staff
If you accept the referee invitation, you'll gain access to a page with links to the full manuscript and author cover letter. You'll also have links to "check status" and "Review Manuscript." If there are no red arrows visible on the "Home" page, then there is no pending work.

Review Manuscript

Once in the system you will be presented with a "Manuscript" screen. At the bottom of this screen under "Manuscript Tasks" is a "Review Manuscript" link. Clicking on this link displays the "Review Manuscript" screen. This screen asks for a recommendation and for a report.*

* Note that in giving a recommendation, along with a free-form text box that allows you to copy and paste a report and /or comments, you must:

Select from a drop-down menu. This manuscript is:

Select from a drop-down menu. I recommend: The free-form text box for your report follows.

Finally, a manuscript evaluation form is available, but the use of this is optional.

If you prefer to work offline, you may find it faster and easier to download and print the manuscript, draft your review remarks in plain text, and copy and paste into the referee remarks text area on this screen.

Again, the manuscript evaluation form is optional; the drop-down recommendations and report are required.

NOTE: As a referee, SICON offers the option of attaching a file to deliver your report. It is recommended, however, that you instead use the text box on the Referee Recommendation Screen to type or paste plain text or TeX code. File attachments are not recommended, as referee confidentiality may be compromised. However, if you must send an attachment know that it may be forwarded to the author by the Review Editor, so please be sure to first edit the file for profile information that—if left in place—could disclose your identity as the owner/creator.

See here for specifics on how to remove hidden identity clues from PDF and Word files.

Private Note to Editors

Referees wishing to make a point to the editors that is not meant for the author can use the text box labeled "Private Message to Review Editor." This is found directly below the "Detailed Comments" text box where you enter your report. The "Private Message to Review Editor" text box is optional, and should be used only for items not to be forwarded to the author. The editors will receive these comments, but they will be separate from the main report and will be labeled as "confidential." Please note that these comments will be seen by both the Associate Editor and the Corresponding Editor handling this paper.

Getting Help

If you need additional help, you can click on the help signs throughout the system. A help dialog will pop up with context sensitive help. You can also e-mail if you need assistance.

Manuscript Status

To get the status of your assigned manuscript(s):

  1. Log into the system with your password.
  2. Click on the link represented by the manuscript tracking number and abbreviated title.
  3. Click on the "Check Status" link at the bottom of the displayed page.
This procedure displays detailed tracking information on the progress of the submission and review.

NOTE: Author rights to unpublished manuscripts: All manuscripts are privileged documents; an author retains the right to the unpublished work. A referee should not use results or ideas obtained exclusively through the refereeing process in his or her own research.

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