letter from communications’ contributed/review articles co-chairs
A Front Row Seat to Communications’
For the past five years, we have been co-chairs
on Communications’ editorial board for
the Contributed Articles and Review Articles
sections. In this short span of time we have
seen a dramatic shift in the kinds of
articles submitted to and published in
these popular sections of the magazine.
This shift has not been by accident.
To appreciate the ever-changing
dynamics of Communications’ readership, we should start at the beginning. ACM was founded in a meeting
at Columbia University in 1947 as
the Eastern Society for Computing
Machinery. It was formed as an outgrowth of the increasing interest in
computing that was dawning at that
time. (“Eastern” was dropped from
the name shortly thereafter).
In the beginning, ACM members
were primarily academic researchers
interested in the science, development, construction, and application
of computing machinery. As we all
know, that early interest in computing
has since spread explosively to virtually all aspects of human endeavor
and has transformed today’s world
into an intimately connected information society. Indeed, ACM has evolved
into “an international scientific and
educational organization dedicated to
advancing the art, science, engineering, and application of information
technology, serving both professional
and public interests.”
In 2005 David Patterson, then
ACM’s president, formed a task force
co-chaired by Stu Feldman and Mary
Jane Irwin to study new directions for
Communications in the 21st century.
The motivation for commissioning
this task force was growing dissatis-
faction with what was being published
in the magazine at that time.
The broadening of ACM’s membership to include researchers and
practitioners presented challenges
for what kinds of articles to publish
in Communications. By 2005, ACM’s
magazine—ACM Queue—had a devoted following among many of the
practitioners in the field. At the same
time, scholars in management information systems viewed
Communications as the top publication venue for
their field. But many computer science researchers felt Communications
no longer enjoyed the reputation of
being the leading scientific publication in the field, a reputation it had
enjoyed many decades earlier.
The task force recommended a
Science magazine-like format for
Communications. Science is a huge success
for the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. It appeals to
scientists across many different fields
of science and each issue has a collection of departments ranging from
news to perspectives, which invites a
wide readership. Most importantly,
virtually all scientists consider Science
among the most, if not the most, prestigious publication in all of science.
Communications was refocused
to follow the Science model. The sections of each issue now include Letters, News, Viewpoints, Practice,
Contributed Articles, Review Articles,
Research Highlights, and often a Last
Byte. A website for the magazine was
also established to not only highlight
the print matter but also serve as a
news and scientific research tool.
It is still too early to determine
whether Communications will enjoy the
same preeminent scientific reputation
in computer science as Science enjoys
in the biological and physical sciences,
but the early indicators are very encouraging. Editor-in-chief Moshe Vardi
has made the scientific and technical
quality of the entire editorial board his
primary concern. All the departments
are staffed with preeminent researchers and practitioners who have access
to the best reviewers in the field.
As co-chairs of the Contributed
Articles/Review Articles sections, we
would like to mention the articles we
now receive are representative of the
expansive reach of information technology. In addition to cherishing scientific excellence in what we publish,
we look for original articles that are
suggestive of the impact that IT can
have on all areas of science and society. Our editorial board also insists
on clarity in exposition so the significance of the results being reported
can be appreciated by a universal
audience. Please continue to submit
your best work to Communications!
Alfred Aho and Georg Gottlob serve as co-chairs on
Communications’ Editorial Board. Aho (email@example.com.
edu) is the Lawrence Gussman Professor of Computer
Science at Columbia University, New York, NY. Gottlob
(firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of informatics
at Oxford University, Oxford, England, U.K.
Copyright held by Author(s).