Instructions for Referees

The SIAM Journal on Computing (SICOMP) 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 Computing aims to provide coverage of the most significant work going on in the mathematical and formal aspects of computer science and nonnumerical computing. Submissions must be clearly written and make a significant mathematical contribution, and be relevant to computer science.

Topics include but are not limited to analysis and design of algorithms, algorithmic game theory, data structures, computational complexity, computational algebra, computational aspects of combinatorics and graph theory, computational biology, computational geometry, computational robotics, the mathematical aspects of programming languages, artificial intelligence, computational learning, databases, information retrieval, cryptography, networks, distributed computing, parallel algorithms, and computer architecture.

In general, only original papers will be considered. 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. However, papers previously presented in conference proceedings of limited circulation may be submitted in revised form. If a paper has appeared previously, in any form, authors must clearly indicate this in both their cover letter and in 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 an Associate Editor to act as Review Editor for the paper.
  3. The Associate Editor assigns Referees.
  4. The Referees review the manuscript and send reports.
  5. The Associate Editor makes a decision and the author is contacted.

Navigating the System

All SICOMP papers go through review in the web-based Journal Submission & Tracking System; http://peerreview.siam.org/.

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, and a link to view the manuscript. When you use the link to gain access to the web-based system and to see the paper, you are presented with 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 sicomp@siam.org. You can also enter your observations or suggest other referees directly into the system after you click the decline link.

  2. You can alternately access your files by logging into the system through http://sicomp.siam.org, 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 on this link, you will be presented with a "Manuscript" 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 "check status" and "Review Manuscript".

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 following decision: If you recommend publication, there is one more series. Leave at the default setting of "Not Applicable" if you do not think eventual publication appropriate.

Select from a drop-down menu. If publication of the paper was recommended I suggest the following action:

The free-form text box for your report follows.

There is also a text box available if you wish to include a private message to the Review Editor. Comments entered here are not meant to be seen by the author(s).

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, SICOMP 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.

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 sicomp@siam.org 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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