- What is topiCS?
- Which types of submissions
- What format is required for submitted
- topiCS sections versus Special Issues
Preparing a Proposal for topiCS
- What issues should a proposal for topiCS address?
- The role of Associate
Editors in topiCS
- The Board of Reviewers
- Contacting prospective authors
- Word limits, page limits,
limits on number of authors
- Publication timeline
- When will my topic be published?
Reviews and Reviewers
- Is there a requirement to reject a certain
proportion of papers?
- Who is the audience for my reviews?
- Help with meeting NIH requirements for PubMed?
What is topiCS?
topiCS is a new journal devoted
to Cognitive Science. It will be rigorously peer-reviewed.
It will also be different from most journals in that the
charge to the Associate Editors is to find exciting, under
reported work, across the full-range of cognitive science
topics, and to recruit the best authors in these areas to
submit their work to topiCS.
Which types of submissions are possible?
Many types of submissions may be included in topiCS.
What follows is a sampling, not an exhaustive list.
- New and Emerging:
or emerging work from people in disciplines that may not
consider themselves to be cognitive scientists, but who
are doing cognitive science work. Reviews or updates
on established cognitive science areas in which recent
years has seen an upsurge of interest and/or a major
paradigm shift. Quick publication of award winning work
presented at the annual Cognitive Science Conference
or of outstanding cognitive science work presented at
non-Cognitive Science conference.
- Integrative and Reflective:
This category of papers challenges established researchers
to not simply report on their current research but to
step back and discuss larger issues in cognitive science
through Integrative and Reflective papers that go beyond
a single research topic to examine broader issues and
trends. An example of this is the Visions of Cognitive
Science topic that is represented in this first issue
by 6 lively and interesting papers from leading members
of our community. (See Volume 1, Issue 1 of topiCS.)
Another example is the topic Philosophy in Cognitive
Science and Cognitive Neuroscience for which Associate
Editor Andrew Brooks (Carleton University) has asked
leading philosophers to discuss the influence of their
philosophy on contemporary cognitive science. Philosophers
who are onboard for this topic include William Bechtel,
Daniel Dennett, Pierre Jacob, Thomas Metzinger, Zenon
Pylyshyn, and Paul Thagard.
- Great debates:
Two or more target articles (or two or more groups of researchers)
that take different positions on a topic of interest to
the larger cognitive science community. Smaller commentary
articles discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each
approach. This category may present a mix of New and Emerging
and Integrative and Reflective papers.
- Commentary and Responses:
All readers of topiCS are encouraged to send commentaries to the Editor or to the Associate Editor who handled a particular paper. topiCS is serious about encouraging commentaries and a section of each issue will be reserved for the Commentary and Response topic.
What format is required for submitted manuscripts?
With the following exceptions, all submitted
manuscripts must conform to the guidance of the APA Publication
— Publication Manual of the
American Psychological Association (2009). (6th ed.). Washington:
American Psychological Association. Available from: http://books.apa.org.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Include figure captions with figures
on all manuscript submissions that will be reviewed. Once
the paper is accepted for publication then you will receive
specific instructions on how to prepare the paper for publication.
- You may refer
to human subjects as "subjects" rather
than as "participants." The term "subjects" has
an old and established tradition within empirical studies
of human behavior and does not reflect any dehumanizing
of the people who are recruited and participate in our
studies. Depending on context and the study you may also
refer to them in terms that seem appropriate, e.g., operators,
pilots, gamers, etc.
By all means, as a courtesey to your reviewers who may drop the paper version of your manuscript on the floor, please number your pages!! Seriously, it is much easier for a reviewer to refer to a paragraph or section if the pages are numbered.
topiCS sections versus Special
Topics selected for topiCS will
appear in a section of the journal under the name of that
topic. Although there may be a few topics that take up an
entire issue of the journal, most topics will appear as a
section of one issue with some topics appearing as a section
across multiple issues of topiCS.
Preparing a Proposal for topiCS –
First – Consider that the
range of pages for most topics should be between 120 and
140. At 400 words per page, approximately how many papers
do you expect to have? Note that there is no expectation
that all authors be allotted or produce manuscripts
of the same length. The pages per author decision is
part of your editorial discretion and your negotiation with
your authors. However, if at the time we go into production,
the total number of pages exceeds 140, you will have to make
some hard decisions as to which articles to exclude.
Second – Many topics begin
life as small workshops or some other small group of like-minded
researchers. This is certainly a good place to begin soliciting
authors; however, consider broadening your pool by going
outside the participants of the workshop.
Third – How will you
The journal and its Editorial
Board can help you solicit papers from the wider cognitive
science community. Rather than full papers, a call can go
out for responses by interested researchers and you and others
can work to solicit full papers from those that best fleshout
Alternatively, if your
topic began as a workshop, is it your intention to invite
all of the attendees at the workshop to submit papers?
Or will this be more by invitation. Or do you see some
sort of process of negotiation between you and the attendees
and those you will be wanting to recruit (as per #2) who
are not in attendance?
Remember that no matter
how you go about soliciting papers, selectivity in the
final acceptances is the key. Fewer highly influential
papers are better than many low quality ones.
Fourth – Be sure to highlight
the current debates, substantive issues, controversies in
the topic you are proposing
Fifth – topiCS is an international
journal. Does your list of intended authors adequately represent
the interest in your topic throughout world wide cognitive
science community? There is a increasingly vibrant and growing
Pacific Rim community of cognitive scientists who often find
it hard to travel to North American or European conferences.
Is this community appropriately represented in your proposed
list of invitees?
Sixth – Cognitive
science is broader than cognitive psychology, cognitive anthropology,
artificial intelligence, linguistics, etc. We are looking
for topics that span a broad range
of cognitive science. Are the authors representative of a
narrow, disciplinary bound area of cognitive science or do
they represent the range of cognitive science interest in
Please note that this item
is not intended to be a "pollitical correctness" item. For
example, there are many examples of people with degrees in
Computer Science, Media Studies, or Education who are now
members of Departments of Psychology. Likewise,
there are many people (again as one example) trained as computer
scientists or psychologists who are currently engaged in
cognitive neuroscience or cognitive modeling research. Hence,
current affiliation or the department listed on a Doctoral
Degree may not be a true indicator of the cognitive science
breadth of your proposal. However, it is essential that your
proposal address this issue.
Seven – What types of papers
will you be soliciting? New experimental research? Reviews?
Integrative summaries? Cognitive modeling? New theories?
Eight – Finally, all
topiCS papers must be rigorously reviewed. The Editor expects
that a certain number of submissions will be rejected
regardless of the author and regardless of the "invited" nature
of the topic. What editorial process will you set in place
to guarantee a rigorous peer review process? An example proposal
for an editorial process might be the following:
Example 1. Each submitted
paper will be assigned to one AE as Action Editor. The
other AE will be assigned as a reviewer (these roles will
alternative across the submitted papers). A second reviewer
will be recruited from the authors of the other submitted
papers. Finally, to ensure that the paper is accessible
beyond the narrow focus of this topic area, the third reviewer
will be recruited from the general cognitive science community.
Example 2: All articles
will be peer-reviewed to ensure the highest quality contributions.
I will solicit three reviewers for each submission, including
at least one whose primary research area is outside the
area of this topic. This will be done to ensure
that the articles address issues that are of interest to
the broad audience intended for the journal, and that the
content has been written to be accessible to those readers.
My goal will be for the reviewers to represent the diversity
of the journal’s readership.
Example 3. Each submitted
paper will be sent out to three reviewers, at least one
of which will be a psycholinguist and at least one a computational
linguist. (Other specialists will be brought in where necessary.)
Reviewers will be recruited primarily from our Program
Committee. Similar arrangements were in place for the workshop,
but acceptance of papers for the journal will be subject
to substantially higher standards than was the case for
Ninth – If your topic
is accepted you will become a topiCS Associate Editor so
please read the material below regarding the Editorial Board
and Associate Editors. As an AE you will be responsible
for enforcing the page limits given to you by the Executive
Editor. Most topics will be allotted approximately 120-140
pages for content (see the discussion of this below). In
your proposal, comment on how you would enforce these page
limits and, if your reviewed and accepted papers go over
that page limit, how you would break the news to an author
that their positively reviewed paper will not be part of
your issue of topiCS.
Tenth – Making a difference.
How will this special issue make a difference? What goal
does it aim to achieve? How will this special issue change
the community represented by the special issue? How will
this special issue change other communities outside?
Eleventh – Managing a topic.
are you? Tell us who you are by including a CV (one for you
and one for each of your proposed Action
Editors - see next paragraph) that allows
the Board of Editors to judge your experience
as a researcher, reviewer, and editor.
Clearly all topiCS proposers should have
an established record of published research
in high quality venues. It is also the
case that most proposers will have some
track record as reviewers for various journals
and conference proceedings. Tell us about
these. On the other hand, we do not expect
that most proposers will have experience
in organizing reviews for journal or for
conference papers. Indeed, topiCS plays
an important role in mentoring the next
generation of editors and associate editors
for the field of Cognitive Science. We
expect all topiCS Editors to work with
the Executive Editor in organizing and
conducting the reviews. Depending on circumstances
and the topic, the Board of Editors might
advocate the addition of someone with a
record of editorial experience as a co-Topics
Editor for your proposal.
will be managing the topic? We are now distinguishing between the
role of Associate Editor who is an Editorial
Board member and Action Editors whose role
is limited to their topic.
topics accepted after December 1, 2010
there will be one person who becomes an
Associate Editor of the topiCS Editorial
Board. There can be several people who
become Action Editors for their topic.
The Associate Editor and the Action Editor(s)
will be listed as "Topic Editors" on the
journal issue(s) when the topic appears
in print. The Associate Editor will serve
a term of not more than three years and
his/her name will be listed in the journal
and various journal-related webpages as
an Editorial Board member.
the review, revision, and publication process,
the Associate Editor will be the one person
in charge of communicating with the Executive
Editor (Wayne Gray) and the Managing Editor
(Caroline Verdier). In general, the topic
proposers are free to organize their internal
structure as best fits the topic and their
individual strengths and weaknesses.
Many of the topics for topiCS will
originate with the Board of Associate Editors. The Board
would issue a call for papers on a given topic and would
play an active role in recruiting authors to contribute papers.
All papers would be heavily reviewed. Being invited to contribute
to an issue of topiCS would not guarantee acceptance.
Note that one way to become
an Associate Editor for topiCS is to propose an
interesting and exciting issue. People who have organized
successful symposium at the Cognitive Science Conference
or other conferences should consider themselves and their
symposium topic prime candidates.
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Contacting prospective authors
We are developing a letter that will
introduce prospective authors to topiCS. Our intention would
be that the topiCS Editor would incorporate parts of the
letter into their contact letter by cutting and pasting what
they consider to be the most relevant paragraphs, or by including
the entire letter as an attachment that follows their more
personal introduction to their topic.
Word limits, page limits, limits on number
Peer-reviewed journals play a quality-control
role in the world of scholarly publication. Rigorous reviewing
and extensive feedback to authors characterize the best journals.
This process requires a strong commitment to quality and
detailed reviews from many people for each issue. Likewise,
high quality journals should look good and read well. These
production standards require the services of a quality publisher
and a team of copy-editors who can work with authors on their
prose. These considerations mean that even in the world of
electronic publication (topiCS will be both print
and electronic) there is a practical limit on pages
The page allocation for topiCS is
200 pages per issue. This includes a few pages listing the
editors, review board, policy of the journal, and any ads.
Associate Editors (AEs) should aim for approximately 120-140
pages for content. Depending on the issue, we could run
four 30-page papers, six
20-page papers, eight 15-page papers, or twelve 10-page ones.
In practice I suspect that there would be a mix of paper
lengths. Sometimes the mix would result as authors would
send shorter papers than expected. In other cases the mix
would result from the Associate Editor allocating more words
to some papers than for others (e.g., target articles versus
For issues of topiCS that survey
an area (one without target articles), I would like to aim
for about 8,000 words per paper (about 20 pages), with a
total of 9 to 10 articles. The tradeoff
is between depth and breadth and in many cases it would be
better to go for breadth. In that case, having a mix of 15-page
(6,000 words) and 20-page (8,000 words) papers might work
well. Obviously having a few 4,000-word (10-page) papers
is an option as well. The nature of the mix is something
that the Associate Editor should work on with the Editor
before contributors are solicited.
Everyone wants to know, "how soon
can my issue appear in print?" Fair question. The biggest
chunk of time is the time you spend recruiting good researchers
and the time they spend writing their papers. The timetable
is driven by your slowest author and your slowest reviewer
and you. Once all first drafts are completed and sent to
topiCS here is what the timeline looks like:
- 0 month (START): All manuscripts are
due to Editors.
- +3 month: The last of the manuscripts
is reviewed; editor decisions are made; and letters are
sent to authors.
[Do not underestimate the amount of time
it will take you to read all of the reviews, the paper,
and write your letters.]
- +5 month: All 1st revisions are due
in [authors need some time to revise their manuscript].
- +7 month: All 1st revisions are reviewed,
editor decisions made, and letters sent to authors.
- +8 month: All 2nd revisions from
all authors are due in.
- +10 month: All 2nd revisions reviewed,
editiorial decisions made; and all letters are sent to
month: All final revisions due from authors; all manuscripts
are sent to publisher.
month: All papers published in the next issue of topic.
[Our intention is to encourage a friendly competition
among topiCS Editors. No one is promised any particular
issue. Rather each one will go into the publication queue
as soon as it is complete.]
When will my topic be published?
We don't have a set issue that we are
aiming for. Rather, as a new journal, we have a set of concerns
we are juggling. We would like to publish the papers in your
topic in either one or two issues of topiCS. Our twin concerns
are timely publication of individual papers and regular,
quarterly publication of the journal. Regular publication
is important for us to be listed by services such as ISI's
Web of Science. Timely publication is important to our authors.
In general, as soon as the initial articles for a topic are
ready, we put that topic into the publication queue. At this
point our queue is very short; however, our goal is to have
a queue that is 2-3 issues deep. This will allow us to guarantee
regular publication that is very timely by the standards
of most journals. Until we develop a queue, we may publish
an initial subset of articles in one issue, and the rest
of your articles in a second issue. This will ensure the
rapid publication for your authors and regular publication
for the journal.
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Reviews and Reviwers
Is there a requirement to reject a certain
proportion of papers?
Question: Is the requirement to reject some papers strictly
necessary? Our list of potential invitees includes many
very high profile people and while we are happy with the
possibility of rejecting substandard papers, we are uncomfortable
with the requirement to reject a proportion of, possibly
high quality, papers.
Answer: There is no such requirement
but . . . our experience with
topiCS is that very good people can produce very bad papers.
It may be that some good people are so busy that they use
the review process as part of their revision strategy.
For others it might be that they are simply best at writing
when they have no fixed deadline (as would be the case
for most journal papers) and rush their writing process
to meet the deadline of a topiCS paper. "Revise
and resubmit" is a
category used a lot by other topiCS Editors in the past.
You would probably be surprised by the number of distinguished
researchers, including the occasional Rumelhart Prize winner,
whose first submission has been assigned to the Revise
and Resubmit category.Make sure all
of your authors know that an invitation to submit does
not mean that the paper will not be rigorously reviewed
and that you might ask for significant changes. Don't be
afraid of using the R&R category with detailed editorial
guidance as to what changes would be needed to make the
next submission acceptable.
Note that another problem that some
Topics Editors have had is "relevance." No matter
what you do or say it always seems as if there is at least
one paper that really is not on target. Occasionally aTopic
seems plagued by this problem. In some cases the
papers are quite good but (a) not really on topic and/or
(b) more or less on topic but something that really should
have been submitted to a speciality journal in linguistics,
experimental psychology, mathematics, or elsewhere as it
would have easily fit in with the papers in other fields.
Both the Cognitive Science journal and topiCS are aiming
for papers that really do not fit in with standard disciplinary
Who is the Audience for My Reviews?
The simple and wrong answer to this
question is "the authors". The Editor is the main audience
for your review. The Editor is working hard to ensure that
well-written, leading edge work is being published in the
journal. He or she has asked you to assist in this endeavour.
Your main obligation is to provide the Editor with enough
information to make an informed decision about what to
do with the manuscript. Your secondary obligation is to
the author to help them improve the current manuscript
or to politely point out the failings that prevent the
current manuscript from being published.
From the Editor's perspective haviing
a reviewer who is so overly sensitive to an author's feelings
that s/he will not put any negative evaluation into the
comments that the author sees is almost worse than useless.
If you tell the Editor in the "comments for the editor
only section" that the paper has serious problems that
need to be resolved before it can be accepted, please,
please ennumerate those problems in the portion of the
review that the authors receive.
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Help with meeting NIH requirements for PubMed?
The publisher's policy is to deposit
the accepted manuscript version of articles based on NIH-funded
research to PubMed Central, for public access 12 months
after publication, in line with the NIH mandate. This is
something that the publisher has been handling since
April 2008 for authors who submit to any and all Wiley-Blackwell
journals. For more information see: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/bauthor/NIH_policy.asp