(From The Institute print edition)
Tips for Getting A Transactions
PUBLISHED is important for promotion and tenure in the academic
community, and publication can do much to bolster the careers of
engineers in industry. Have you ever published a paper in an IEEE
transactions journal? Certainly, publication of a transactions paper,
including your photo and a brief biography, adds to your status in the
professional community. Some say that one transactions paper can be
worth four conference papers in terms of prestige. If you’re already a
university professor, transactions publications help you become better
known and can lead toward being elected an IEEE Fellow or to receiving
other awards and honors.
For an engineer
in industry, publication in transactions reflects career success. And
if you’re currently a researcher in industry and aspire to a university
career, it is also wise to establish a publications base. Perhaps most
of all, publications bring their authors a tremendous amount of career
WHAT TO PUBLISH
Transactions normally publish archival articles describing research
that others may find valuable to their work and that they’re likely to
reference. If you’ve invented something or have investigated a
technical topic that advances the technology or could lead to
noteworthy applications, you should consider writing about it in a
trans-actions publication. If you’re an experienced professional, you
might consider writing a state-of-the-art survey, which transactions
publications often accept. Research results can be written as short
letters to the editor.
When you feel
you’ve made a contribution to technology, you must judge for yourself
whether you’ve covered enough new ground to justify a transactions
paper, or if a conference paper would suffice. Note that some IEEE
societies, such as the Industry Applications Society, require that a
subject first be unveiled in a conference paper before it can be
considered for a transactions publication. Such societies hope to
assure their readers as to the paper’s basic quality.
For a research
topic presented in a transactions article, your results should include
a technical description, a mathematical analysis, and a simulation
study. Experimental results are usually required to validate any
theoretical discussion and simulation results. For an emerging
technology, however, a description of the work, along with an analysis
and simulation results, may suffice. Of course, a simulation is only as
good as the model; a model that is not sufficiently accurate will yield
only approximate results.
ORGANIZING THE PAPER
Once you have decided that your work is transactions-worthy, you must
organize what you want to write. And that can be tricky because a
transactions paper has many details. A flowchart for organizing your
writing can be of great assistance (see illustration).
A good paper
tells a clear, concise, well-organized story and presents a logical
flow of ideas. To get a good feel for how material should flow, it is
helpful to review transactions papers published by other authors,
particularly those who are established in their fields.
The title of the
paper should clearly reflect the essence of your contribution. Below
the title, list the primary contributor as the first author; co-authors
should be listed in the order of the importance of their contributions.
Remember, it is unethical to name a co-author who has not contributed
to the work. Likewise, it is unethical to provide as a co-author the
name of a project manager, financial supporter, or department head.
Carefully avoid any appearance of plagiarism, and do not simultaneously
publish the same material elsewhere.
the proper IEEE format—references to earlier work that are applicable
to your paper. References should be as comprehensive as possible while
remaining relevant. It is also wise to cite one or two books dealing
with background material that pertains to the subject.
to write, organize your points in the sequence you wish to make them
for each section and subsection. Plan any figures that can clearly
describe your work, with their titles and important parts labeled. The
figures—whether schematic diagrams, functional block diagrams, or
simple block diagrams—should be self-explanatory and should make a
clear contribution to the paper.
Make sure the
grids of any graphs are light in color, and that variables and their
scales are clearly indicated. Then, adjust the different sections and
subsections of the paper, give them each appropriate titles, and put
your figures in order. (Note, though, that figures can be finalized
only after you’ve made a complete draft of the paper.)
always desirable. Don’t be obscure with them; be sure to use commonly
understood textbook symbols. Define the symbols as they are introduced
in the paper, instead of referring to a list of symbols at the
beginning or the end. Sometimes, though, you should include equation
derivations in an appendix so as not to divert the reader’s attention
from the main text.
PEN TO PAPER
Once the material has been organized, the next step—writing the
paper—is certainly the hardest. Writing for transactions, and doing it
well, remains a difficult art.
grammar and spelling are important. Publication in transactions may
prove difficult if you’re from a non-English-speaking country. Often, a
paper with an excellent contribution will be rejected because of poor
English. Even minor grammatical or punctuation errors can annoy a
reviewer and contribute to rejection of the paper. Knowing proper
English is not enough, however. Avoid ambiguous expressions, and be
clear in your writing.
otherwise good paper may be rejected because of poor organization and
poor English, a paper making even a mediocre contribution to its field
may be accepted because it is well written. This applies to papers from
both industry and academia. Good writing is of paramount importance and
should not be left to assistants or students unless those individuals
are accomplished writers.
FIRST, THE ABSTRACT
Start by writing the abstract. It needs to summarize the contribution
you have made. It should be a single paragraph, concisely written with
carefully selected wording, and it should appear at the beginning,
stating exactly what the paper is about. The key words, known as index
terms, are appended to the abstract.
Next comes a more
difficult part: the introduction. Broadly describe, in a convincing
way, the general importance of your work. Describe past contributions
to the topic, together with the references on which your new
contribution is based, and emphasize in what ways your contribution is
important. It is best to cite others’ past contributions. Doing so can
dispel suspicion that the contribution might not be your own.
Next comes the
body of the paper, a clear description of your work in logical
sequence. Finally, the results and significance of your contribution
are discussed in the conclusion. Some overlap between the conclusion
and the abstract is common. If you got help from others (such as
managers, financial supporters, and colleagues), you should include an
acknowledgements paragraph after the conclusion.
Go over the draft
several times to polish the text. It is always a good idea to prepare
an extended manuscript first, and then cut it down as you go over it to
strive for clarity and to satisfy length constraints. After completing
the paper, make sure you’ve satisfied all the questions presented.
THE REVIEW PROCESS
Every transactions paper is peer-reviewed by more than one person. The
reviewers’ judgment determines its acceptance or rejection. Normally,
if two reviewers recommend acceptance or rejection to the transactions
editor, that settles the matter. If the score after two reviews is
tied, a third review becomes essential.
appropriate reviewers can be difficult, and the review process is far
from ideal. Often, a reviewer’s expertise does not exactly match the
subject of the paper, and the reviewer may not understand the paper
well, even though he agreed to review it. Because reviewers are often
busy professionals, it is important to make the best possible
impression with a well-written, polished paper.
If the reviewer
does not understand the paper, it likely will be rejected. Clumsy or
unclear figures can be grounds for rejection as well. But don’t
simplify too much: if the treatment of your topic seems overly simple,
your contribution may be considered trivial.
reviewers’ identity is unknown to the author, they do not fear
rejecting a paper. Appropriate reasons must be given for rejection.
However the justification may be simply, “The contribution in the paper
is not significant enough to justify transactions publication.” Or a
reviewer’s recommendation for major revision to the paper may be the
reason. Whatever a reviewer recommends is usually accepted by the
transactions editor. On average, transactions editors accept about one
in three submitted papers.
several attempts, you may be lucky enough to receive an acceptance
letter. Note that most accepted papers come with recommendations for
minor revisions. In submitting the revised paper, clearly note in a
cover letter the revisions you made, and highlight the revisions in the
text. Papers that have been accepted conditional on revisions are
rarely rejected once the paper has been resubmitted.
After the paper has been published, you can proudly visit http://www.ieeexplore.ieee.org and note how many people are referencing it, and you can find where the paper is referenced at http://www.scholar.google.com . The latter Web site can provide a gauge of your contribution’s importance.
Good luck to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bimal K. Bose is the Condra Chair of Excellence in Power
Electronics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
A version of this article originally appeared in the second quarter 2006 issue
of the IEEE Power Electronics Society Newsletter.