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About a third of submissions are rejected without review. Typically these are papers submitted by authors that do not understand what type of papers the journal publishes. For example, papers rejected without review are about topics that TOIS does not cover, are descriptions of software systems, or do not contain a credible experimental evaluation. (Please see the editorial charter for more information about the types of papers published by TOIS.) The median time to a decision for this class of papers is about a week.
The median time to review the first draft of a paper is a little under 4 months. This time has declined during each of the last 4 years. The journal is working to reduce this time further.
The median time to review a revised version of a paper is a little over 2 months.
Nearly all papers fall into one of three categories: i) Rejected without review (as described above), ii) Rejected after review, and iii) a Major Revision followed by a Minor Revision followed by Accept.
TOIS recruits reviewers who are expert in the topics discussed in your paper. Experts almost always notice ways that a paper can be improved. When reviewing for most conferences, a reviewer must accept or reject the paper "as is". When reviewing for TOIS, the reviewer can make suggestions about how to improve the paper, for example, fix minor errors, clarify descriptions, improve coverage of related work, or improve experimental evaluation. The mentoring provided by the reviewers and the Associate Editor helps authors develop a better paper. This mentoring is one of the principal advantages to publishing your work in a scientific journal.
ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS) does not accept unsolicited proposals to have a special issue on a specific topic. Instead, TOIS occasionally makes public requests for proposals (RFPs) to have a special issue on a topic of current interest. Requests for proposals are typically announced on SIG-IRList and in other public newsletters and mailing lists. Typically a call will remain open for several months to allow time for editorial teams to form and develop a strong proposal. Special issue proposals are reviewed by the TOIS Editorial Board, which may select none, one, or several of the proposals.
Special issues are open to all authors. Typically they are announced on the TOIS homepage, on SIG-IRList, and in other newsletters or mailing lists as appropriate. Papers submitted to a special issue go through the usual review process.