JOT Special Sections — Frequently Asked Questions
To help Guest Editors of special sections we have compiled a list with the most common questions that we normally are asked about JOT Special Sections. Questions are listed in no particular order, and of course the list is not exhaustive. There is also very relevant information about JOT Special Sections at http://www.jot.fm/authors.html#SPECIAL that we encourage you to read too. Should you have any further question, or need any kind of clarification on the existing answers, please feel free to contact us.
Q1. Is there a minimum number of papers for a JOT special section?
JOT imposes no limits on the number of papers of a special section. The only obligation is to have an editorial paper, written by the Guest Editors. By looking at past years, special sections tend to have between 3 and 8 papers. But there is nothing that forbids you to have a special section with one paper, or with many more. At the end of the day, the Guest Editors are responsible for the contents and configuration of the special section, and therefore it is up to them to provide the best possible selection of papers. Our only requirement from JOT is on the quality of the papers, as they should be of enough quality to be published in a journal.
Q2. Can the papers be from several editions of the conference/workshop?
Having a special section with selected best papers from the last two or three editions of a conference makes perfect sense. Remember that the goal of a special section is to provide an overview of a specialized topic and of its current state. Therefore, if the guest editors think that it is better to have selected papers from some past editions of an event to provide a more comprehensive overview of the state of the art, why not?
Q3. Is an open call for papers possible?
There can of course be open call for papers for a special section. However, it is not clear whether this makes sense in the case of selected papers from an event. Besides, open calls normally introduce significant delays in the overall process, and hence we are not fully convinced that an open call is indeed beneficial. But of course there can be good reasons in some particular occasions; please feel free to let us know if you think that an open call for an special issue suits your particular event
Q4. Can we organize a special section without a “supporting” conference or workshop?
Special sections can also be organized around any specialized topic that can be of interest to the community. (Hypothetical) examples include anniversaries of the birth of some new paradigm (such as MDA, Agile Methods or AOP, to mention some); compilations of works related to a particular matter (formal methods for the automotive industry, or empirical studies on the usability of modeling languages); or even surveys and comparisons for methods or tools (papers coming from tool contests can be very interesting for dedicated special sections). The only requirements for this kind of special sections are timeliness and quality. So if you can put together a set of high-quality papers related to an interesting topic, in a reasonable timeframe, then a JOT special section is your publishing venue. You will get immediate publication, DOIs and persistent storage for the articles, high visibility, and publication in a recognized journal.
Q5. How to invite authors of the selected papers?
For your convenience we have prepared a template for a typical invitation letter to authors that we have used in one special section for a conference. It will give you some indication about the time allowed between deadlines, the information you should request to the authors, etc. In any case these are indicative; please feel free to customize the letter, dates, etc. according to your particular requirements and preferences.
Q6. How to handle the review process?
There is no handling system for JOT papers currently in place. Some guest editors are using Easychair, others handle their papers using other mechanisms. You are free to handle any system that may be good for you. We will only need the final versions of the accepted papers at the end of the process. The JOT standard review form can be used by Special Sections reviewers for writing the review reports.
Q7. Which are the best reviewers for the extended versions of the papers?
This is a difficult question. It s good to use some of the reviewers that reviewed the original paper at the conference or workshop, who can check that the paper has been indeed extended and the comments expressed in the original reports have been taken into account. But it is also appropriate (and even recommended) to have at last a new reviewer who can take a fresh look at the paper and check whether it is of “journal quality”. Remember that standard reviewing rules apply for special section papers, as for any other JOT paper (see http://www.jot.fm/authors.html). In particular, each paper should be reviewed by at least three reviewers.
Q8. Apart from selecting the papers and handling the review process, what else is expected from the Guest editors?
An editorial from the guest editors is also expected. This editorial can be of any kind, although we encourage guest editors to write editorials in which they offer their views on the state-of-the-art and/or state-of-the practice of the selected topic, comment on the papers of the special section and summarize their contributions, and also provide the readers with useful information about the topic of the special section including, for example, classifications or taxonomies of the concepts of that topic, future research lines and challenges ahead, or any other relevant information they might consider worth mentioning.