Information Systems (TOIS)


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Author Guidelines


  • Submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter. See more details in section 5.

1. Scope

The ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS) publishes previously unpublished high-quality scholarly articles in all areas of information retrieval. Please consult the editorial charter.

2. Originality

Contributions appearing in ACM journals are normally original papers that have not been published elsewhere. Publication of a paper that has been widely disseminated is permitted only if the Editor judges that the revision contains significant amplification or clarification of the original material or there is some significant additional benefit to be gained. Any prior appearance should be noted on the title page and it is the obligation of the author to inform the Editor-in-Chief if there are any circumstances concerning the contribution that bear on this policy. Submission of a manuscript that is under review by TOIS to another journal or conference without approval of the Editor-in-Chief is considered to be unethical and, when discovered, will result in immediate rejection by TOIS.

TOIS conforms to the ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous Submissions, except that TOIS usually defines "substantial revision" to mean that at least 50% the paper is material that has not been published previously. For submissions that are substantial revisions of previously published work that has already appeared in a major peer-reviewed conference, authors must provide a detailed explanation that clearly details the differences between the original submission(s) and the new submission. The following changes are considered to be of a largely cosmetic nature: extended introductions of related work sections, testing of on further datasets that lead to similar conclusions as in the original paper(s). The 50% new material is expected to consist of significant technical enhancements that improve over the original paper(s) or of experimental results on additional datasets with outcomes that are markedly different from the claims published in the original paper(s). TOIS welcomes submissions that draw together multiple initial papers into a coherent synthesis of a substantial line of research.

3. Paper Length

TOIS does not have a maximum paper length, however its papers are typically 25-30 pages long (excluding references) when the recommended format is used. Authors considering papers longer than 40 pages (excluding references) should contact the Editor-in-Chief prior to submission to explain why a longer paper is appropriate for the topic.

4. Style Guidelines

See for formatting instructions and templates. Numbered section headings should be used to facilitate readability. Language which reflects prejudice (e.g., sexist language) should be avoided. The introduction should clearly describe previous research on related topics. Care should be taken to specify clearly all procedures essential to the research. When a paper concerns a new piece of software, comparisons to similar programs, benchmarks, and a discussion of limitations should be included.

Generic names are preferred to specific product names. However, when they imply essential aspects of a procedure, as when a specific product has unique features, the product names may be included for clarity. Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to quote long passages (60 words or more) from any material that appeared in a non-ACM publication.

4.1 Title and Abstract

Use a specific and informative title. Typically, a title might contain 6 to 12 words. Avoid special symbols and formulas in titles unless essential to indicate content. Authors' names should be given without titles or degrees, along with the name of the sponsoring organization. Current mailing addresses, including email addresses, should be given in a footnote.

The abstract should be 150 to 200 words long and should consist of short, direct, and complete sentences. The abstract should state the objectives of the work, summarize the results, and give the principal conclusions. It should also indicate whether the focus is on theoretical developments or on practical questions and whether subject matter or method is emphasized. Avoid starting with the words, "This paper". Work planned but not done should not be described in the abstract. Because abstracts are often extracted from a paper and used separately, avoid the use of the first person, display mathematics, and citations.

4.2 Aids for Classification

Categories and Subject Descriptors should be selected from the classification system used by Computing Reviews (CR). The latest CR classification was published in 1998. It is available at Use as many descriptors as applicable.

General Terms are those common to more than one area of computing and are chosen from the fixed list that accompanies the CR classification system.

Additional Keywords and Phrases consist of English language words that may also be useful for indexing. These may be synonymous with terms in the classification system, may be more specific than the subject descriptors, or may not be covered by the existing system at all. In this last case, use specific terms whose meaning is generally accepted in the computing community. Do not use broad, catchall terms (such as "computer," "system", or "automatic") and do not use private terms or acronyms. For additional information, please read, "How to Use the Computing Classification System."

4.3 Mathematical and Symbolic Expressions

Short mathematical equations and other expressions in the text should be run in: (instead of each being displayed on a separate line). Avoid exponents having more multiple levels of superscripting? $e sup {x sup 2 + y sup 2}$, use $exp( x sup 2 + y sup 2 )$. Likewise, avoid the use of built-up fractions in the text. For example, instead of ${1} over { italic {n}}$, use either $1 / italic {n}$ or the negative exponent form $italic {n} sup -1$. In display matter, however, built-up fractions are preferred for clarity. Likewise, avoid small-type mathematical expressions centered above or below arrows.

If submitting hardcopy from a single-font printer, then indicate special marking for symbols (e.g., italics, boldface) and clearly identify unusual symbols.

Equations that are referred to later in the text should be numbered sequentially and referred to, for instance, as Eq. 1. Do not number equations that are not referred to in the text.

4.4 Statistics

For empirical studies, the procedure should be presented in sufficient detail to be replicated by other researchers. Statistical tests should be included to support empirical claims. When reporting statistics, the name of the statistic, the degrees of freedom, the value obtained, and the p-value should be reported, e.g., F(3,65)=4.83, p < 0.01.

4.5 Figures

Figures include graphs of results, schematic drawings, samples of output screen dumps, and photographs of special equipment or displays. Each figure should be numbered and have a caption. Upon publication, figures will be reduced to 12.7cm (5 inches) in width. Care should be taken to ensure that the legends and labels within the figure are large enough to be readable after they are reduced. Acceptable figure file formats are .tif, .gif, .jpg, .png, and .eps.

For final submissions on paper, high quality (at least 600 dpi) figures should be included. Color prints can be reproduced, although this adds to production costs and must be approved by the Editor-in-Chief.

4.6 Citations and the Reference List

Relevant publications accessible to the public(i.e., articles in standard journals and open conference proceedings) should be cited. References cited in the text should include the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, for example [Bush 1945] or [Salton and McGill 1983]. When the citation(s) includes three or more authors, only the first author should be mentioned by name (e.g., [Foley et al.1990]). A trailing lower case letter should distinguish multiple papers by the same author(s)published during a single year, for example[Winograd and Flores 1987a]. Multiple citations in the same sentence should be enclosed within brackets and separated by semicolons, for example, [Halasz 1988; VanRijsbergen 1975].

The reference list should be arranged alphabetically by the author's last name, followed by the date. In the case of multiple listings by a single author, the earliest publication appears first. When an author is listed both as a single author and as a senior author with coauthor(s),all of the single-author listings precede the multiple-author listings, with the latter arranged alphabetically by last name of successive authors. Again, chronological order is used for multiple papers by the same set of authors. The lower case letter used in the citation to distinguish multiple papers by the same author(s) in the same year should be displayed in the reference list.

References to items in periodicals: These should take the form: author, title, journal, volume number, date, and pages. Author(s) should be given last name first; likewise for editors, with the name followed by (Ed.). The author's name always ends with a period, either the period which follows the initial or a period specifically for that purpose. In the title, only the first word and proper names (or their derivatives) should be capitalized, and the title should end with a period. The year is given in parentheses. For example:

SCHWARTZ, J.T. Ultracomputers, ACM Trans. Program Lang. Syst. 2, 4 (1980), 484-521.

References to reports or proceedings: Author(s) and title-same style as for periodicals. This is followed by the report number, source, date, and pages.

References to books: Author(s)-same style as above. Title-all principal words start with a capital letter. The title is followed by the publisher, city, year, and any specific pages or chapters.

5. Submission procedure

Electronic submission should be made through Manuscript Central, ACM's submission management system at If it is your first time submitting a paper using this system, you will need to create a new account (instructions can be found at the website); otherwise, enter your login and password, choose "Transactions on Information Systems" as the journal, and follow the instructions provided for submitting your paper.

Although not required for submission, we encourage authors to use the ACM LaTeX style files (described on ). While there is no specific word limit for TOIS articles, papers tend to be in the 8,000-12,000 word range.

Submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter containing all of the following:

  1. Confirm that the paper is not currently under submission at another journal or conference.
  2. Disclosure of any previous publications by the author(s) that significantly overlap with the submission. In particular, if the submission is an extension of an earlier conference paper, explain the differences between the two papers. Please remember that TOIS requires at least 50% of the article being submitted to be new material (see under 2. Originality).
  3. Confirmation that all authors are aware of the submission and agree to its review by TOIS.
  4. Suggestions of three Associate Editors that seem most suitable to handle the submission. Only select Associate Editors that are from a different part of the planet than you. For example, if you are from Europe, please select names from anywhere but Europe.
  5. Disclosure of possible conflicts of interest with Associate Editors.
  6. Please confirm that your coverage of related work is appropriate and up-to-date. Failure to include an up-to-date account of the relevant literature is a frequent ground for delays in the decision-making process and even for rejection. As an author you should ensure that your coverage of relevant work is complete and up-to-date, and includes (1) references to the original publications that introduced key notions that you use in your paper, and (2) relevant work published in recent years at all relevant venues including, but not limited to, ACM TOIS (of course), SIGIR, WSDM, CIKM, WWW.

Submission will be acknowledged, and an Associate Editor will be assigned to process the manuscript; this may or may not be one of the Associate Editors suggested by the authors. Authors are expected to maintain current contact information in the Manuscript Central system.

For paper submissions, please email for instructions:
Petra Best, Assistant to the Editor-In-Chief

6. Reviewing procedure

Please see reviewing information for more details.

7. Once Accepted

If the paper is acceptable after refereeing, each author will be asked to complete an ACM copyright form, either transferring copyright to ACM or declaring that the paper is part of government work. All author rights forms are now filled electronically through the ACM e-Rights Transfer Application. If your paper was submitted before April 2, 2013, has recently been accepted, and you have not yet been contacted concerning e-rights transfer, please send your manuscript number to Laura Lander, Journals Manager, at  Authors retain liberal rights to material published by ACM.

Abstracting of material in ACM publications is permitted with credit to the source. Libraries are permitted to photocopy beyond the limits of U.S. copyright law, for private use of patrons, those articles that carry a code at the bottom of the first page, provided the per-copy fee indicated in the code is paid through the Copyright Clearance Center (P.O. Box 675,Schenectady, NY 12301 USA). Instructors are permitted to photocopy isolated articles for noncommercial classroom use without fee. The complete ACM Copyright Policy may be read here.

7.2 Proofs

The first author will receive either galley or page proofs; these should be checked and returned promptly. Although the ACM staff copyedits manuscripts, the author is solely responsible for marking errors. Substantive changes should be approved by the Editor.

7.3 Language Services

ACM has partnered with International Science Editing (ISE) to provide language editing services to ACM authors. ISE offers a comprehensive range of services for authors including standard and premium English language editing, as well as illustration and translation services, and also has significant international outreach, especially in China. Editing is available for both Word and LaTeX files. As an ACM author, you will receive a generous discount on ISE editing services.

To take advantage of this partnership, visit  (Editing services are at author expense and do not guarantee publication of a manuscript.)

Please note that formatting assistance is provided at no charge to authors by Aptara, as specified on the author style guide page:

7.4 Supplemental Online-only Material

Please provide a brief description of your supplementary online-only material (i.e., text and multimedia material) to be published in the Digital Library. A short “readme.txt” file will appear in the DL along with your supplementary material describing its content and whatever requirements there are for using it.

Author Gateway

Please be sure to visit the ACM Author Portal for additional important author information.


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