2010Q1 Reports: CL Journal

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CL Journal Report for Calendar Year 2009

Robert Dale, Editor

1 Summary

Submissions slightly up on last year, from 71 to 84. In terms of or processes, currently the journal is in a state of flux, with a lot of changes ongoing, and more to come. Overall things are just about under control.

2 Statistics

These statistics are not in the form that they are usually provided: Mary Gardiner, Editorial Assistant, usually compiles these for me, but her hands are full with a very new baby, so I have cobbled these together as best as I can.

In 2009, we received 84 submissions. This is an increase on previous years – we have beat this number before, but only with the help of special issues, of which we had none in 2009.

At the time of writing, first decisions on 10 of these papers were still outstanding. I don't have figures on our mean time to first decision in 2009, but the fact that in early February we only have 10 papers from 2009 awaiting first decisions suggests that we are doing well. Generally speaking, our decision times have been getting faster, but there's still wide variance on a per paper basis: some of our best reviewers are also our slowest reviewers. Of the 74 papers from 2009 on which decisions were reached, 9 have so far been accepted for publication, 38 are under revision, 1 has been invited to resubmit as a squib, 19 were rejected, and 7 were considered inappropriate for CL. One paper was a proposal for a survey which was accepted; the survey itself is late.

Historically we have not insisted on revised papers being submitted within a specified time frame, but we're very likely to start doing this in 2010, as part of a planned revamp of our reviewing process. I have not carried out a detailed analysis, but I suspect a good proportion of the papers we send back for revision and resubmission don't come back to us.

3 Journal Departments

3.1 Squibs [Pierre Isabelle]

At the beginning of year 2009, there were two submissions in the squibs pipeline pending from 2008. In the course of year 2009, 11 additional papers were (re-) submitted. At the end of 2009, there were 3 submissions left in the pipeline. Thus, 10 decisions were made over the year.

The results were as follows:

 * 2 papers accepted 
 * 5 papers rejected
 * 3 invitations to revise 

The mean time taken for these decisions was 72 days.

Thus far, 3 papers have been (re-) submitted to the Squibs Editor in 2010.

Also, I have been handling some book reviews on behalf of Graeme Hirst, for books published in a series he is editing for Morgan & Claypool. I received three books during 2009. Two reviews were completed and the third was pending at the end of the year.

3.2 Obituaries

Over the last two or three years we have started running obituaries in the journal. Our field is of an age, unfortunately, such that these are likely to become a little more frequent.

3.3 Main Articles

We continue to receive mainly long articles of around 40 pages, and relatively few short articles of around 20 pages. Although, despite being an electronic journal, we still have per-page costs (for copy editing and typesetting), we can experiment a bit more with length variation; and we should probably look to hosting additional material related to papers on the journal's website.

3.4 Book Reviews [Graeme Hirst]

Book reviews are edited by Graeme Hirst. We continue to publish one or two reviews in each issue, a smaller number than in the past as fewer books overall are being published in computational linguistics nowadays. However, a new series of CL books edited by Graeme Hirst recently began publication. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, reviews of these books are being coordinated by our squibs editor, Pierre Isabelle, with Hirst out of the loop.

3.5 Last Words

Finding members of our community who are willing to write a Last Words piece is difficult. It's not clear to me whether this means that all our controversial issues have now been raised, or I'm not asking the right people; suggestions for possible LW authors are most welcome.

4 Current Changes

4.1 Editorial Assistance

Mary Gardiner, who has been our one-day-per-week editorial assistant for a number of years, is on maternity leave in 2010H1; Suzy Howlett has taken over the editorial assistance role in the interim. Running the journal would be impossible without their help.

4.2 Editorial Board

Eight new members have joined the editorial board for the period 2010-2012:

Michael White, The Ohio State University Chris Callison-Burch, Johns Hopkins University Katrin Erk, University of Texas at Austin Philipp Koehn, University of Edinburgh Joakim Nivre, Uppsala University George Foster, National Research Council of Canada GuoDong Zhou , Soochow University, China Advaith Siddharthan, University of Aberdeen

At the same time, the following members of the board have reached the end of their three-year periods on the board:

Claire Cardie, Cornell University Bob Carpenter, Alias-i Olivia Kwong, City University of Hong Kong Ellen Riloff, University of Utah Sabine Schulte im Walde, Universität Stuttgart Simone Teufel, University of Cambridge Peter Turney, National Research Council of Canada

Their invaluable assistance in conscientiously reviewing papers for the journal is much appreciated.

4.3 Review Management

For the last seven or eight years, the journal has survived using email as the primary workflow tool, backed up by a spreadsheet database. In the last few months, we have switched to using the web-based Open Journal System. The transition has gone reasonably smoothly, but the software still needs quite a few tweaks before it meshes perfectly with our workflow. At the same time as these modifications are being implemented, we'll be reviewing our processes and making changes where appropriate. The software development work is being carried out by Mary Gardiner, who, as noted above, recently became a mother, so there is a temporary halt on this development. A trickle of changes are likely to made throughout the rest of this calendar year.

5 Upcoming Changes

5.1 Article-by-Article Publication

Although the journal is now electronic only, we still make use of the concept of issues that are published on a quarterly basis. There's no reason why we need to continue to do this; we could instead publish articles one by one as they are ready. However, doing this requires making various changes to the way MIT Press processes our materials, so what happens here depends on what happens in regard to a number of other possible developments, noted below.

5.2 Funding Models

Now that CL is open access, we are reliant on sources of funding other than subscriptions for the ongoing funding of the journal. In 2010, the cost of producing the journal is likely to be around $60k. This is a significant cost, and so we may want to look at alternative funding models. My intention is to table a discussion paper on this topic at the mid-year ACL executive meeting.

5.3 Publication Model

The ongoing discussions in regard to the relationship between conference and journal publication clearly have an impact on how the journal develops in the future. It would be good to arrive at some concrete decisions here relatively soon, since the various possibilities have impacts on the different possible funding models. One possibility is that we may wish to reconsider our relationship with MIT Press.