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Information and guidelines for reviewers

Protect confidentiality

As a TOSN reviewer, you have the responsibility to protect the confidentiality of the ideas represented in the submitted papers. TOSN submissions are by their very nature not published documents. The work is considered new or proprietary by the authors; otherwise they would not have submitted it. Protection of the ideas in the paper you receive means:

  • Do not show the paper to anyone else, including colleagues or students, unless you have asked them to write a review, or to help with your review.
  • Do not use ideas from the paper to develop new ones, until the paper has been published.

Avoid conflict of interest

Even though you would, of course, act impartially on any paper, there should be absolutely no question about the impartiality of review. Thus, if you are assigned a paper where your review would create a possible conflict of interest, you should return the paper and not submit a review. Conflicts of interest include (but are not limited to) situations in which:

  • You work at the same institution as one of the authors.
  • You have been directly involved in the work and will be receiving credit in some way. If you're a member of the author's thesis committee, and the paper is about his or her thesis work, then you were involved.
  • You suspect that others might see a conflict of interest in your involvement. For example, even though Microsoft Research in Seattle and Beijing are in some ways more distant than Berkeley and MIT, there is likely to be a perception that they are "both Microsoft", so folks from one should not review papers from the other.
  • You have collaborated with one of the authors in the past three years (more or less). Collaboration is usually defined as having written a paper or grant proposal together, although you should use your judgment. For instance, being coauthors in either a course or survey paper generally should not in itself lead to a conflict of interest.
  • You were the MS/PhD advisor of one of the authors or the MS/PhD advisee of one of the authors. Funding agencies typically consider advisees to represent a lifetime conflict of interest.
  • You have unpublished work that would get scooped by the current submission because it tackles the same problem using a similar approach. At a minimum, such a cross-reviewing conflict should be declared to the editor in a private comment.

Remain anonymous

All reviewers are expected to maintain anonymity forever. In particular, it is never appropriate for a reviewer to reveal himself or herself to the authors of an accepted paper, as this could be perceived as an attempt to curry favor. Requesting citations primarily to one's own work may thwart anonymity, so should be carefully considered.

Be professional

The most valuable comments in a review are those that help the authors understand the shortcomings of their work and how they might improve it.

General ACM policies

For more information on specific topics, see the ACM publications policies.

 
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