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Information for authors.


Communications of the ACM is a monthly magazine that publishes articles, reports, technical notes and correspondence, and features of general interest to the computing community. It also publishes official ACM notices, ACM and general news, conference information, and the ACM Forum.

Communications aims at the broad audience of ACM members, most of whom have four or more years of experience in the computing field. In 1986 there were about 77,000 subscribers; 53 percent are in programming and company management; 54 percent have been in the computing field for ten or more years; and 57 percent have advanced degrees.


General interest articles cover material of substance and emphasize concepts and principles. An article sets the background, defines fundamental concepts, compares alternate approaches, and explains the significance or application of a particular theory or result by means of good written and visual material. Reference lists should be included, giving citations of the most significant items that support and substantiate the article. Where appropriate an annotated "Further Reading" section with a few citations and some commentary can be used.

Manuscripts submitted as Articles undergo a formal review for technical accuracy, interest to readers, and effectiveness of style and presentation. Articles discussing current research in all areas of computing, including those covered by the ACM Transactions, are invited. Research articles must be concise and written in a style that makes the results and their significance accessible to all the readers.


Reports are official documents issued by committees, panels, and task forces. They may also be prepared by individuals (e.g., accounts of meetings or trips). To assure that they meet Communications' standards of clarity, conciseness, and appropriateness, all reports will be reviewed before decisions are made to publish them. In the case of committee reports, the Editor-in-Chief may determine that adequate review has already occurred and may waive further review; the Editor-in-Chief may opt to publish an abridged version of a committee's full report. Committee chairpeople who plan to publish their reports in Communications should collaborate with the Executive Editor during the report-writing process.


Papers of direct and immediate interest to practitioners are published in the Computing Practices section. Submitted manuscripts should emphasize the skills and techniques used daily, including the design and construction of applications systems; discussion of computer systems and tools; methodologies for management of the data-processing function; computer philosophy; and the implications of theoretical contributions to application areas. Papers submitted to Computing Practices are reviewed by the Computing Practices Panel for content, definitiveness, interest, and importance to the practice of computing.


Case Studies are articles that report on experiences gained and lessons learned constructing and using major computer systems. They take a comprehensive view of selected systems, covering them from requirements through design, implementation, and use. Case Studies should take a rigorously objective perspective on the systems they describe, and should be both evaluative and descriptive. Persons interested in working on Case Study articles are advised to consult the Case Study Editors before starting.


The ACM Forum, established in October 1970, the Viewpoint commentary section, established in February 1983, and the Technical Correspondence section are the three main channels by which opinions are expressed in Communications. The purpose of these mechanisms is to emphasize the availability of Communications for discussions of all aspects of ACM's interest, not just the technical. These channels help bridge the gap between those who shape ACM policy and those who benefit (or suffer) from such policies.

The major difference between Viewpoint and Forum is in quality of exposition and depth of treatment. Viewpoints are intended to be well-written, carefully reasoned, sober commentaries in which all positions are substantiated by facts or principled arguments. These columns are intended to carry weight in the computing community and elsewhere. Much more effort is required of a Viewpoint author than of a Forum author.

The major difference between Forum and Technical Correspondence is in the breadth of the intended audience. Technical Correspondence is treated as informal commentary on technical papers or other technical matters. The commentary is likely to appeal only to a narrow segment of the readership.

In view of budget and other limitations, as with most channels of this kind, it is not possible to publish everything received. Some Forum letters may appear in a modified or condensed form (with the author's agreement). Most Viewpoint pieces will be edited by a professional editor (also with the author's agreement).

The following sections summarize the major policy guidelines affecting authors for Forum, Technical Correspondence, and Viewpoints. Items should be submitted according to the Submission Information box on the Communications masthead. .

General Rules

1. Submissions should be relevant to any of ACM's general areas of interest.

2. A single submission should confine itself to one major topic.

3. Submissions should contain opinions that merit publication on account of their novelty, ingenuity, general importance, controversiality, or other interest value. Submissions that simply repeat positions previously covered in the Forum, Viewpoint, or Technical Correspondence sections, or that merely support or disagree with previously expressed views, will not be accepted.

4. Submissions should be succinct. The word limit for the Forum and Technical Correspondence sections is 1000 words; for the Viewpoint section it is 2000 words. At the discretion of the appropriate Editor, but only in unusual circumstances, submissions beyond these limits may be accepted.

5. Submissions containing facts that are demonstrably in error will not be accepted.

6. All submissions will be constructed as the opinion of the writer and will not necessarily be an official position of the ACM.

7. The responsible Editor's decision as to the acceptability of a submission is final.

Rules Specific to the Forum and Technical Correspondence Sections

1. Technical correspondence will be forwarded by the Executive Editor to the Associate Editor of the technical. area in which the materials falls. That Associate Editor then handles the submission.

2. If a submission to Forum or Technical Correspondence makes reference to another party, the Editor may solicit a rejoinder from that party. The length of a rejoinder will be limited to the length of the original submission, All parties will be provided with a copy of the original submission and rejoinder(s) prior to publication.

3. At the discretion of the Editor, outside opinions will be solicited as to the publication value of a submission.

Rules Specific to the Viewpoint Section

1. Viewpoint commentaries may not deal with internal ACM organization or administrative matters. (Opinions in these areas can be taken up in the Forum.)

2. Viewpoint pieces that, in the Editor's opinion, require immediate response from other parties will not be accepted.

3. The Editor will select several persons, usually from among other editors of Communications, to review a submission. These reviews will be used as advice in determining whether to accept the piece. The ACM Executive Director will review submissions for conformance to ACM policy.

A final note: Submissions suggesting that the editors are prejudiced, censorial, or otherwise fallible are discouraged. That the editors are all these things is well known and as such this contingency is covered by general rule 3.


Communications invites news releases from associations, government, or academic institutions that relate to computing. Also welcome are conference announcements for the Calendar of Events, Calls for Papers, and ACM Special Interest Group and Chapter news. Communications does not handle product announcements.


Special sections and issues are collections of articles on a specific topic. A considerable investment of professional editorial time will be made to assure maximum readability of this type of material. Persons interested in serving as guest editors or in proposing special sections should submit to the Executive Editor a prospectus that must include a proposed timetable. For complete details, contact the Executive Editor at ACM Headquarters and request a copy of the document "Guidelines for Special Tutorial Articles and Special Issues."


Toward the goal of timely review and publication, a manuscript tracking system is maintained at ACM Headquarters. All received manuscripts are logged and then sent to a member of the editorial panel for review. Members of the editorial panel are asked to send copies of all correspondence with an author to Headquarters. If we have observed no activity for more than two months, we automatically contact the responsible editor for a status report. Authors desiring status reports can contact ACM Headquarters at any time.


ACM Policy on Prior Publication, approved by the ACM Publications Board on September 28, 1987, states: "Republication of a paper, possibly revised, that has been disseminated via a proceedings or newsletter is permitted if the editor of the journal to which it has been submitted judges that there is significant additional benefit to be gained from republication." (See Communications, November 1987).

Conference chairpeople can arrange with the Editor-in-Chief to publish selected papers from ACM conferences, after suitable refereeing. The papers must meet the editorial requirements for research articles. The full paper may also appear in the proceedings with reference to the Communications. Acknowledgment of the originating conference will appear as a credit when the paper is published in Communications.


Five copies of a double-spaced manuscript should be submitted to the Executive Editor at ACM Headquarters (for Articles, Reports, or Computing Practices), The cover letter should be signed by the author and should state for which section the manuscript is intended and what technical area it covers. Case Studies should be sent to the Case Studies Editors through ACM Headquarters.

Forum submissions should be sent directly to the Forum Editor at the address shown on the masthead. Viewpoints should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief Technical Correspondence should be sent to the Executive Editor at ACM Headquarters. News and calendar items should be addressed to the News Editor at ACM Headquarters. Complete submission information is published monthly in the masthead. The process of reviewing submissions and deciding on publishability generally takes 8-12 weeks.

Format. The principal components of a paper are title, abstract or summary, text, acknowledgments, references, biographical sketch, and Computing Reviews categories and keywords.

Text. The body of the paper and the references should be typewritten and double-spaced on one side of each page. All papers should use unnumbered section titles. All tables of data should indicate the source(s) of the data. Mathematical expressions and notation should be used judiciously and only as required by the subject matter. They should never be used as a substitute for a high-level description of what is taking place.

Camera-Ready (Typeset) and Electronic Submittal of Accepted Manuscripts after Acceptance. The submission of the final draft of an accepted article in final, camera-ready form is allowable only with prior permission of the Editor-in-Chief Submittal of final copy in diskette form for subsequent editing and transferal to the printer is encouraged. The goal is to capture the keystrokes, not the word processor's format commands. ASCII text files can be sent by standard 5-1/4-inch diskettes or by electronic mail. Please contact ACM Headquarters to obtain more detail on these forms of submission.

Editing. Papers accepted for the Articles, Reports, and Computing Practices sections are reviewed for readability and clarity of exposition by professional editors at ACM Headquarters. They are then revised and rewritten as needed. This process is a collaboration between the editor and the author. All papers will be copyedited to conform to The Chicago Manual of Style, Thirteenth Edition, The University of Chicago Press, 1982.

Length. Manuscripts should not exceed 6000 words (30,000 bytes). Each illustration is counted as 150 to 300 words of text depending on its complexity. The length limit is strictly observed. Longer manuscripts will be accepted only with the approval of the Editor-in-Chief

Title. The title should be short and indicate the general subject of the paper. It should arouse the reader's interest.

Summary. For Articles, Reports, and Computing Practices, the summary is short--two to four concise lines that emphasize the most interesting features and conclusions of the paper.

References. Citations to previous work are included at the end of the article. Where appropriate a "Further Readings" list can be used as an alternative to formal references. The format for citations is given below:

Reference to a journal article:

1. Garey, M.R. Optimal binary identification procedures. SIAM J. Appl. Math. 23, 2 (Feb. 1972), 173-186.

Reference to a book:

2. Garey, M.R., and Johnson, D.S. Computers and Intractability: A Guide to the Theory of NP-Completeness. Freeman, San Francisco, Calif., 1979.

Reference to a technical report:

3. Gouda, M.G., and Dayal, U. Optimal semijoin schedules for query processing in local distributed database systems.In Proceedings of ACM SIGMOD International Conference on the Management of Data (Ann Arbor, Mich., Apr. 29-May 1). ACM, New York, 1981, pp. 164-165.

References should be ordered alphabetically by author. They should be materials accessible to the public (i.e., articles in standard journals and open conference proceedings), Internal technical reports and theses should be avoided unless easily accessible. Private communications should be acknowledged, not referenced.

Artwork. Final artwork does not need to be included with submitted manuscripts; good sketches and accurate graphs are sufficient for the review process. Photographs should be glossy prints. Two- and four-color pictures and drawings can be included.

Authors of accepted manuscripts should provide high-quality professional artwork. If this is not possible, the author should consult with Headquarters' editorial staff for assistance. The author's name and the figure number should be written in blue ink or in light pencil on the back of each figure.

Biographical Sketch. A 100 word biographical sketch describes the author's expertise, current position, and technical interests. Prior professional experience and previous publications as they relate to the article or subject matter should be included. Submitted material will be edited.

Content Indicators. Authors should assign three types of content indicators: categories, subject descriptors, and general terms from the classification system used by Computing Reviews. Additional keywords and phrases of English language words may be used. The latest CR classification scheme may be found in the January 1988 issue of Computing Reviews, or may be obtained from ACM Headquarters. Use as many categories and subject descriptors as may be applicable. General terms are those common to more than one area of the computing field and are chosen from the fixed list given at the beginning of the classification system,

Copyright. Authors whose papers are accepted for publication will be asked to sign an ACM Copyright Form. This form indicates that the author is either transferring copyright to ACM or declaring the paper to be Government or Government-sponsored work in the public domain. The return of the signed form completes the acceptance process. Authors retain liberal rights to material published by ACM. Further information is available from the Executive Editor.

Page Charge. Authors' institutions or corporations are asked to honor a page charge of $100 per printed page to help defray the cost of publication. Payment of page charges is not a condition of publication.

Reprints. The first 50 reprints of each paper are provided without charge.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications of the ACM
Date:Jan 1, 1988
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