TCAD Editor's Corner
At its core, a technical publication represents a community or a community of communities that share an interest in solving commonly understood technical problems, often with an understanding of the nature of methods that must be invented. As communities go, IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS (TCAD) represents a very diverse community spread across a large number of technical areas spanning very large scale integration (VLSI), CAD, circuits, embedded systems, formal methods, etc., and internationally spanning nearly all regions of the IEEE.
I take the task of serving as its EiC with humility and in a broad view of this evolving community, its shared goals and aspirations. Publications have been my original passion for service both at IEEE and at ACM. In all those roles, I sought to understand the community and find ways to serve its needs for prompt and clear communications of technical developments. I am glad to have started on this process now, and in the coming months, we shall be looking for ways to expand the community we have built around a well-received publication. Thanks in advance to those of you who have already sent your letters of interest in serving as associate editors. I will take a few moments here to outline my views on the core set of challenges: of our readership’s evolving expectation of reading about new and exciting advances in the areas of their interest; of technical society interest in broadening its readership and of parent organizations’ need to ensure financial viability and success on impact measures. All of these challenges are interconnected by the intertwined threads of quality and timeliness of the publication.
Quality of a publication is a function of the dynamism of the community and deliberativeness of the editorial activity. One provides the content stream over which thoughtful judgment calls can be made based on discriminating feedback from the reviewers. The publication must find its own voice that reflects the evolving interests of its community of readers and authors. TCAD has done a great job of retaining interest from leading researchers in the areas of VLSI and CAD in the broadest sense, with a healthy exposure to devices, circuits, and systems. It has kept apace—for the most part—with leading issues of 3-D integration, microelectronic reliability, both “more Moore” and “beyond-Moore” inspired topics. It is indeed the destination for EDA advances.
TCAD’s exposure to “systems” (embedded, cyber-physical) is a work in progress and presents a growth vector that we can potentially capitalize upon by attracting the strongest researchers to its board and its authorship. Any and all such growth vectors must be pursued with two clear goals in mind: 1) ensure continued excellence and attention to exist- ing areas of strength for that provides the necessary “rating” to attract new readership and 2) targeting the absolutely strongest of the research publications to appear in the growth areas, for anything else will hurt the entire publication in the long term. This is a challenge because the new growth areas may well have their own home bases for the most exciting (and thus, most cited) publications sometimes even across the IEEE, ACM, and USENIX. As a publication, IEEE TCAD must make an attempt to reach out to the researchers who dominate the mindset in these emerging areas. Fortunately, the long-standing and breadth of the TCAD community provide us an avenue to start with researchers who have made a transition to “systems” areas. These researchers will provide a starting point for us to nucleate new growth vectors.
Once the publication finds its centers of gravity in terms of topical coverage across a broad intersection of multiple disciplines, timeliness of publications is crucial to its success. Timeliness has multiple dimensions: at the core level, IEEE keeps track of timeliness of the publications and that certainly is an important characteristic of a timely and efficiently run publication venue. Then there are several other timeliness measures: how quickly we respond to the participants in the review process—the authors, the reviewers and the area editors—as well as how smoothly this process is connected to the production workflow. We have to ensure that these two processes and the individual handoff are seamlessly connected. I believe our review, decision, and production processes must be rooted in two guiding principles: 1) minimize routine work for the volunteers and 2) promote a culture of deliberative thoroughness. I believe that a journal is a production by its editorial board, not an automated venue for publication of peer-reviewed content. By that I mean the editorial board must be familiar with the content it is curating for the readership and make important judgment calls early in the process to ensure a careful and thorough review. As EiC of IEEE DESIGN & TEST, I instituted the practice of having the recommending editor write the abstract of the paper under the editor’s name. That way, the editor not only explained to the reader in his or her own language the importance of the paper but was also held accountable for the content quality in a very public way. While I do not think it is necessarily advisable to pursue the same practice in case of a Transactions, it does point to the primary expectation I have of our area editors to be very familiar with the paper under the review process. By the same token as EiC, I expect to read any content that is finally accepted for publication.
As we make the transition of the editorial board of TCAD, I would like to express my great appreciation to the outgoing EiC, V. Narayanan and deputy-EiC C. Alpert for their dedication that has strictly made TCAD a high impact journal of our profession. I am also thankful to all AEs and the entire editorial team who offered their excellent services over the past years. H. Graeb, our former VP Publications at IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation, has done a wonderful job of supporting TCAD for many years. Many thanks to S. Dailey for her decades of service as a managing editor of the journal. Along with our loyal readers, we will build an extraordinary TCAD community together!