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ISA Transactions
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Letter to the editor

Letter to authors on publishing in ISA transactions


Hi Future Authors, Years in several roles related to publishing journal articles, especially during my time as Editor-in-Chief of ISA Transactions, have led to my formulating general opinions as to what is good (and not) in writing. Here is what I offer as a guide to authors of technical articles. I hope you find it useful. Also, I am pleased that you are reading this. ISA Transactions, The Journal of Automation, has grown remarkably in quality and impact over the past decade, whether by count of manuscripts submitted, acceptance rate, number of published articles, impact factor, number of associate editors, stature of people involved in contributing to the journal, or impact on the International Society for Automation. It is a pleasure to be associated with ISA Transactions. Your reading this indicates that you are also looking toward ISA Transactions, which we appreciate. It is also my hope that the following insight leads to continued progress of ISA Transactions, and our profession. Sincerely, R. Russell Rhinehart 1. Scientific journals ISA Transactions is a science and engineering journal, and articles in such journals must comply with what is termed the scientific method. This means the following. 2. Stakeholders Who has a stake in the outcome of ISA Transactions? One stakeholder group is comprised of readers. Readers from the research side want to see their past work honored and want to see the publication of new ideas which can be built upon in continued research. Readers from the practice side want to see credibility of techniques that they can implement, as opposed to just ideas. One group of stakeholders is comprised of all of those whose reputation rises with journal reputation. This includes authors, editors, reviewers, editorial board members, and ISA staff. One stakeholder entity is the society itself. The International Society for Automation benefits from the success and reputation of ISA Transactions. A final group is comprised of those who wish to guide learning. Graduate students reading articles in ISA Transactions are guided about the right way to analyze and present results. This is important to professors who are seeking to teach students how to become scientists and engineers, and important to a society which wants scientist and engineers to do it right. Characteristic of an engineering journal, ISA Transactions seeks to balance theory and practice, and to bridge the gap between mathematics and application. We aim to make ISA Transactions useful and valuable to both applied researchers in academia and advanced practitioners in industry (the readers from the first two groups). Accordingly, a mathematical analysis of a set of equations that represents a system might be fine for some journals, but would be considered incomplete for ISA Transactions. Articles need to connect the theory with practicable application. Articles need to establish that the method or conclusion has credibility to a user. On the other hand, articles that report on an implementation might be fine for some publications, but would be considered incomplete for ISA Transactions unless there was a data-based audit analysis, compilations of the issues, and balanced presentation of the pros and cons with respect to applicability. When you submit a manuscript to a journal, you need to be sure that it makes all of the stakeholders happy. It is easy to be grounded in your own experience and see publishing as a necessary stage in your personal career progress. However, be sure that you have a customer focus that includes all stakeholders. As important as publishing your work may be to you, it is not about you. It is about them. Write to please all of the stakeholders. 3. Personality Leave out any trace of personality. As you read article after article, you find that they have no personality, and it may be tempting to fill that void. Do not include

Concluding statements and claims are the result of rational,


logical, fact-based analysis of new facts presented in the article and/or truths from former refereed work. One persons interpretation is widely corroborated by subject matter experts. The analysis should be grounded in fundamental mathematical statements, which could represent statistics, physics, chemistry, mathematics, economics, or engineering science. The concluding claims must be comprehensively defended by data that establishes credibility, and by discussion of results provided in the article (you cannot generalize, hypothesize, forecast, or project applicability unless the claim is defended). The work needs to be repeatable by others, and to reveal sufficient detail that others can independently affirm the findings. The order in which facts are presented and discussed should guide the reader through a logical path revealing the basis for the concluding claims. Nothing extraneous to the progressive development of the argument should contaminate the article.

0019-0578/$ see front matter 2011 ISA. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.isatra.2011.11.001

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

a style or opinion that you wish to have as your personal trademark. The articles are to focus on the work, and to reveal only a rational analysis of legitimate results. The manuscripts should be devoid of any taint, infection, or trace of personal involvement, presence, or influence. You may be tempted to reveal your creativity by injecting an aside comment, personal opinion, alliteration, double entendre, joyful play with words, scandalous acronym, humor, hidden message in the leading letters of successive sentences, sophisticated words, puns, artful sentence convolution, or such. Such creations may have come out of otherwise mundane research meetings, and they may provide a welcome, joyful break in the work. You have a right to joy on the job. But, if you include anything other than a rational, factual-based, data-based discussion structured for ease of reader understanding, your reader will detect the break in the rational, logical, scientific method, or propriety of technical writing. Then the reader will wonder what other aspects of your hidden agenda infect and undermine the legitimacy and utility of the work. You want people to cite your work in a way that enhances your career. But, if some aspect of your work reveals gaminess, frivolity, mischievousness, or rascality then the reader may fear that other aspects of your work also are part of a trick, subterfuge, or sarcastic entrapment. In such a case the reader will not want to cite your work. Worse yet, the reader may have missed it. Later, when it was revealed, the reader may feel personally insulted by being snookered. You do not want to insult your readers; you want them to honor and cite your work. Perhaps, in an Editorial Opinion, you can use humor or literary artifices, but even then it is at the risk of undermining your reputation as a serious leader, and the readers acceptance of your message. If you want your work, your career, or your stature taken seriously, do not express your personality in technical papers. When you are no longer interested in advancing your career, once you have received career-end awards and honors for your numerous and worthy contributions, then you can use humor, then you can express your style, and then you can promote the new personal image that you want to create. Because the scientific method is to be based on rational analysis of unbiased results, the convention is to eliminate any personal association with the work. The statement We ran the experiments in a random sequence indicates that a human may have been involved. Leave out the personal reference. A third-person voice is preferred. This voice might write The experimental trials were randomly sequenced. 4. Editors, reviewers, and authors are human Reviewers of our manuscripts can select one of four recommendation categories: Accept, Minor Revision, Major Revision, and Reject. Overall, for ISA Transactions, about 33% of the recommendations are Minor Revision, 33% Major Revision, and 33% Reject. Rarely do reviewers recommend Accept. This indicates that, after you think your manuscript is perfect, other eyes will find omissions or deficiencies that need to be addressed. Further, on any given manuscript reviewers will express a variety of opinions. One reviewer may take offense at poor English use, and discount an otherwise good manuscript, while another on the same manuscript will see innovation and utility and rate the manuscript highly. One reviewer will see the strength of credibility established by an experimental demonstration, while another will denigrate the manuscript because it does not have theoretical proofs. One reviewer may take offence at the manner in which the manuscript snubs the reviewers legacy, while another, who

may not have had time to perform due diligence in the review, will report nothing objectionable. One reviewer may report that the work was trivial because it represents a common classroom example, while another will think it is a refreshingly new and useful concept. Each reviewer uses their personal value system and experience to judge a manuscript. It takes substantial effort to get reviews, and ISA Transactions averages about 3.5 reviews per manuscript. Although that is a relatively large number of reviewers per journal manuscript, it is a small sampling of human opinions from the population, and the statistics of small numbers may not get it right. The selected reviewers may be either too harsh or too easy. Further, it is not unusual to receive a wide range of opinions, including Reject and Accept on any one particular manuscript. The editor must then interpret the reviewers recommendations and commentary, and include her/his own view to present a balanced opinion to the author. It is likely, however, that the author may not have the same experience or values used by the reviewers to judge the completeness and sufficiency of the manuscript; and regardless of the balance or consistency revealed in the review findings, the author may be offended that the reviewers did not think the work to be beautiful and perfect. It is like this: Every parent in the playground has the prettiest, smartest, kindest baby. Each parent looks at the other babies and pities the parents who got stuck with less perfect babies. Such parents think that any problems their child has in school are the result of meanness of other children or of teachers making bad decisions. Similarly, authors think their work is flawless, complete, ground breaking, etc. Authors are human, too; and co-authors usually share a common, limited viewpoint of what constitutes completeness and sufficiency. If the work is truly groundbreaking, reviewers may likely be offended that the work contains innovations that will undo their career contributions. Reviewers are human too. Authors and reviewers seem to have strong opinions and to be easily offended. Those involved in journal articles have either proven, or are in the process of proving, intellectual prowess and ambition success as PhD holders and researchers. Often ego is tied up in the acceptance of their great work, and their career success is predicated on publication acceptance of their work. Some reviewers, on manuscripts that I have personally submitted to journals, returned evaluations that the work was wrong, unsubstantiated, and that it would be dangerous to publish it and misguide readers. I think this was in response to the style of my work, which supports sufficiency over perfection within engineering solutions, which contrasts with the normal academic values of perfection and mathematical proofs. We need to preserve quality. But no single person owns the truth about quality, excellence, completeness, sufficiency, etc., especially the parent of the child. Authors need to respect all of the diverse value systems of the reviewers, which also represent those of the readers. Sometimes using humans in the process of reviewing manuscripts leads to mistakes. But mostly, when the author is offended at the injustice of the reviewer comments, the author is merely blinded by pride in his/her creation. 5. Acquiesce to reviewers If a reviewer has an objection, concern, criticism, or confusion about some aspect of your manuscript, it is likely that many readers of the published article will have identical responses. Accordingly, whether the author feels the reviewer criticism is valid or not, it is likely a valid representation of readers response. Every reviewer objection or criticism should lead to a change in the manuscript that eliminates the objection that improves the manuscript.

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

You may feel that the reviewer was misguided, had an erroneous perspective, did not read the introduction carefully, or missed a point. If this is the case, consider in your manuscript what triggered the readers misdirection, and revise to clarify that aspect for future readers. You may feel that the reviewer asks for work that cannot be done (perhaps an experimental demonstration if you are a theorist, or theoretical proofs if you are an experimentalist, or more experiments when funding or equipment access has ended). I recommend honoring the reviewers viewpoint in the manuscript revision. Perhaps acknowledge the incompleteness, and temper your claims and discuss the opportunity for continued investigation. Perhaps add simulations or some analysis to fill in the gap. Some authors become offended by the audacity or a reviewer to make, in the authors view, inappropriate objections to their manuscript. These authors explain to the editor, often in lengthy and bold declarations, why the reviewer is out-of-bounds and why their perfect manuscript should not be altered. Then they do not change the manuscript. What then? When the editor returns the revision and authors comments to the reviewers, it can escalate the entrenchment in a contest of values. Likely, the reviewers response will not be Oh, yes, author. You are right. My whole experience can be discounted as worthless or irrelevant. Although some reviewers are young in experience, most reviewers represent established authorities with legitimate viewpoints. To acquiesce to reviewers does not require you to be obsequious, molly-coddle, or kowtow to them. They cannot demand that you make the changes they desire. They are not in charge. The editor will make an independent decision which seeks to balance all viewpoints. However, respect the reviewers viewpoints that you might encounter, accept that other readers will have the same view, and revise the manuscript to help broaden acceptance. Improve the manuscript. If you believe that the manuscript should not be changed regarding an objection, then help the editor and reviewer agree with you in a manner that does not contest the reviewers experience. However, by editing your manuscript, you help all of the readers understand. And, you grow in professional balance, even if the progress is uncomfortable. When you submit a revision, help the editor and reviewer. Explain where and how each objection or reviewer comment led to a manuscript improvement. This will permit the editor or reviewer to turn to that page and see what was changed. They will appreciate your making it easy for them, and you will want to facilitate a speedy re-review and decision. If the editor can see that the revision reasonably addresses the issue, the editor may accept the manuscript without asking for the original reviewers opinions. Getting the manuscript published is what you want. Invest your energy to facilitate getting it published, instead of in defending your limited view of perfection. 6. Impact factor There are many measures of quality of a journal. The Thompson Reuters Impact Factor is a measure of citations of articles from one journal by all journals over the past three years normalized by the number of articles in the one journal. There are associated citation-based indices which are weighted by the citation stature of a journal. The Impact Factor for ISA Transactions is on an increasing trend, and in both 2008 and 2009 it made the largest relative jump in the Elsevier family of journals related to sensors or control. This makes us happy. Thanks to all who are contributing. Such indices are important to academic authors whose career progress is predicated on publishing in high-stature journals.

The problem is, in my opinion, these citation-based measures of quality are incomplete indicators, and are irrelevant indicators of quality to much of the work ISA Transactions publishes. If intellectual leadership within a rapid publishing community is evidenced in citations, then it is a reasonable measure. But, many of our readers are in industry. They use the information; they do not publish. That value-of-use is not acknowledged in the citation indices. If academic readers include a technique in experimental work, it may take more than three years to have a derivative work completed and published. Then the experimental delay prevents the work from being included in the citation count. A good number of ISA Transactions articles fall in that category of experimental work. Additionally, since ISA Transactions is continually growing (the number of published articles is increasing at about 20% per year), the number of citations of past articles is normalized by a higher number of articles, leading to lowered citation index values. I prefer to use other measures of impact and quality. One of these is acceptance rate. About 40% of submissions eventually appear as ISA Transactions articles. Another measure of quality is the strength of the review process. With about 3.5 reviewers per manuscript, we provide explicit and comprehensive feedback leading to improvements in manuscripts. It would be nice to have some measure of the number of articles that guide practitioners, or the fraction of downloaded articles by the practice community. I think such measures are more relevant to a journal that seeks to appeal to applied researchers and advanced practitioners. Articles written about the citation index metrics often point out their incompleteness, in light of all the other quality metrics that are not included. However, the Impact Factor is important, if not wholly relevant, and the editors and business managers of ISA Transactions are working to keep it high. 7. Commercialism Commercialism means any type of promotional agenda. It might be better termed promotionalism, because it is practiced by academics as well as those in the private sector. Beyond promoting a business or product, commercialism includes promoting a country or region, a political system, a religion, aggrandizement of an individual or an Institute, or explaining the superiority of a method or approach that promotes the authors legacy. Commercialism is a term we use for any type of promotion that would offend people with a competing business, idea, approach, product, country, legacy, heritage, program, religion, etc. As a scientific journal, the only commentary permitted will be a rational and logical discussion about facts presented. Rules about commercialism include Proper names of a product, company, program, or country name can be mentioned once in the publication. Any subsequent pronoun (it, the product, the method, the principals, the region, etc.) is counted as an additional instance, and indicates excessive promotionalism. Any mention of we, us, our, I, etc., or the opposing pronouns they, them, etc., indicates an us-versus-them message in the manuscript, which would be considered commercialism. Some authors will feel that it is acceptable, or are told by their bosses, to use the publication opportunity to market the strength of their company or the economic or cultural rise of their country. Some authors will cite the name of a great technical leader, representing their legacy, in a manner such as According to Grey TPerson [3], this technique . . . but, simply use the reference number for any other work such as According to [3], this technique . . . . Some will cite many articles of their own, and only a few of others. Some authors are so enamored with company, country, or legacy pride that they do not realize that

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

they are being promotional. Some authors are just using local jargon PlantHELPER did this, then PlantHELPER does that, see the PlantHELPER display in Figure . . . , when they could refer generically to what could be done within any SCADA system or HMI software. Some authors are nave about the practice, and do not know that their claims constitute excessive extrapolations from their benchscale or simulation results to commercial practice where issues such as economics, safety, reliability, operator training, etc. create a wholly different environment for assessing performance or practicability. ISA Transactions articles must focus on the technical contribution. Articles cannot have a not-so-hidden but purposeful agenda, or be inadvertently infected with a bias, pride, or navety. Some cases of promotionalism are obvious. Other times, a subtle choice by authors of what aspects to address in comparisons could steer the analysis of half-truth toward a seemingly rational, but erroneous, conclusion why some approach is better than another. Part of the review process should examine the data and the completeness of the analysis to see if it supports the claims. Avoiding commercialism does not mean that articles must be written so that they can offend no one. An analysis may reveal that one method is better than another, and this could offend those whose careers are grounded in the other method. However, if the analysis is comprehensive, data based, and if the claims are consistent with the limits of the study, then a rational person should agree with the conclusion about the technical findings, even when disliking the potential impact on his/her business, country, ancestry, legacy, etc. Religious or political views or allegiance must not be expressed. There can be no underlying agenda in an article, unrelated to the facts presented, that would offend or raise the ire among others who have alternate viewpoints. Acknowledgments such as For His glory, Amen, To Mother Earth, To Liberty, For world peace, etc. raise issues about whether the contents are unbiased scientific analysis. Further, publishing any such statement of ideology would invite others to use ISA Transactions to promote alternate religious, political, social, or cultural viewpoints. If your viewpoint is important to you, you would not appreciate a journal permitting the promotion of alternate viewpoints. 8. Unsupported claims I find that unsupported claims are often found in the introduction, results, conclusion, and research highlights sections. There are four aspects to unsupported claims. One is the use of adjectives, adverbs, or superlatives. The second is extrapolation of the results or statement of beliefs. The third is prediction of the future. The fourth is can be. Adjectives, Adverbs, or Superlatives Authors know what is good, big, easy, fast, simple, popular, better, valuable, important, profound, etc., and seek to tell us. Sometimes they know how very, immensely, superbly, etc. some feature is. Perhaps it is so; but, the authors cannot make that claim. It is the readers prerogative to formulate such opinion or value judgment. Authors can present data, not opinion. Any adjectives, adverbs, or superlatives that you use should be a flag that you may be overstepping your authority to judge your own great work. Adjectives, adverbs, and superlatives often reveal that the work is infected by emotion and value-laden opinion. The evaluation of the work must be rationally grounded in facts only. Authors can use adjectives, adverbs, or superlatives when the claim is (1) supported by clear discussion of undisputable evidence, and (2) tempered by a complete evaluation within the situation or relative context. For example, instead of writing a general

universal claim, such as The method is simple, a defensible and comprehensive statement could be Compared to the 83 lines of code and 27 variables of Method A, the 21 lines of code and 7 variables needed for Method B reveal that method B is relatively simpler. However, Method B requires an MS level education to understand, whereas Method A can be understood by those with a 2-year degree. Extrapolation After illustrating something in a simulation or laboratory-scale experiment, some authors think that their great work is ready for industrial practice and claim that they have demonstrated its practicability for commercial practice. Authors infatuation with their own work often leads them to believe grandiose visions. Some extrapolate the applicability of a proof under limited conditions to a universal truth, or a linear technique to nonlinear situations, or a PhD-level technique to be implementable by a BS engineer. What works in one environment may not work in another. For example, a birds wings are a great tool, but they are impractical when flying under water or in outer space. The review process should help you remove extrapolations, and understand the limits of your work. Future Humans are not very good at predicting the future. Yet, authors often make claims such as Our future work will investigate this aspect. Or A future publication will reveal the implementation of the approach. Any prediction of the future should be removed. Can be Authors frequently write It can be shown or It can be seen. But, they usually do not clarify under what conditions, assumptions, or limitations it can be done. Each use of can be, or similar claims such as easily shown or may be, should be a flag that the authors are covering up the reality and limitations. The manuscript should explicitly indicate how, where, when, under what conditions, it can be. 9. Recreational mathematics Fundamental mathematical analysis is an important and often essential component of establishing credibility of an engineering procedure. I value mathematical analysis. I like mathematical analysis. I took extra classes in college, and now request to teach the mathy engineering courses. But, from the ISA viewpoint, theory and practice are equally valued. The mathematical analysis needs to be relevant to establishing the validity of a practicable technique. Our articles cannot present math simply because we can. The strengths of academics are in analyzing fundamentals. They appreciate the mathematical analysis behind engineering techniques, and chose a career path that permits them to pursue their joy in mathematical analysis. Further, in many countries the national funding for research is peer reviewed by highranking individuals. Where evidence of an individuals stature within the community is publications, nearly always, the peer review is by academics. Academics like an intellectually satisfying mathematical analysis, but often have no engineering practice experience. Accordingly, the young academics career is directed by pleasing other academics, which moves the academic community even further into the arena of mathematics and away from engineering practice. Its like this. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, one particular species roamed over a continent. Then continental drift separated the land mass into two sections with differing resources and climate. Isolated, the two portions of the species evolved independently. Ages and ages passed. Now, descendants of the common ancestor are so different that they can no longer synergize.

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

Academia and industry are evolving in different directions. The language, values, and mores of the two engineering subspecies are very different. The two environments are very different. Here are a few aspects. One group buries their conclusions at the end of the paper and divests the conclusions from all application context. The other group leads with the conclusions, which are immediately qualified by the issues within an application context. Practice seeks a balance between sufficiency and perfection. In one environment, sufficiency is a value. By contrast, academics use the concept of excellence, and pursue excellence. Mere sufficiency is represented by a slacker C student. In the other environment, sufficiency is a corruption, not a value. Engineering practice is an aggravation. Real processes are complicated and confounded by many nonideal features. We cannot perfectly (precisely or accurately) analyze real processes. Further, the processes are dependent on devices which constantly fail, and which requires a user to be immersed in the important aspects of signal isolation, device communication protocol, fuses, oil mist in a pneumatic line, and such. A key attribute of any successful engineering tool or techniques is K.I.S.S.: keep it simple and safe. If it is complicated, it cannot be maintained. By contrast, intellectual achievement within the academic community is often demonstrated and established by creating and analyzing complexity. Back to the focus on mathematical analysis. For those able to do it, mathematical analysis is a joy. Solving equations to get closed form solutions, provides the same triumphant pleasure as solving a Sudoku puzzle, breaking a code, seeing the cards in the other bridge players hands, completing a crossword puzzle, winning a chess match, or solving a Mensa challenge. This is what many people do for a recreational break. The issue is that these games provide no substantive benefit to human economic welfare. Much of academic mathematical analysis does not provide a practicable solution that will help to take automation to the next level. For the mathematical analysis to be tractable, it often needs to be linearized, idealized, truncated, and impacted with so many assumptions and acceptances that it no longer applies to the real world. But, the mathematical exercise can be elegant and mathematically correct, can provide a significant mental challenge, can demonstrate intellectual prowess, and thereby can provide great personal joy in the triumph of getting the perfect solution of a most excellent complication. In opposition to practical work, I call this recreational mathematics. Recreational mathematics is the expression of mathematical skill, which is permitted by an imagined reality. There may not be any mathematical mistakes in the work; but, because of limitations associated with its premise, assumptions, basis, or idealizations, it has no utility to control applications, practice, or engineering. ISA Transactions seeks to bridge the theory and practice gap. We want to prevent a complete diversion of engineering subspecies by keeping enough intercourse between research and practice so that intellectual mathematical analysis is acceptable and useful. Mathematical analysis needs to have a credible basis, lead to a practicable method, and be supported by credible simulation or experimental evidence. 10. Manuscript length I think 25 pages is about the right length for a manuscript a single-spaced, single-column manuscript, on letter paper, 12 font, including all figures equations, appendices, tables, and reference list. I also think that anything between 20 and 30 pages is fully acceptable, and is within the norm. Shorter and longer yet is still acceptable, but raises concerns.

Novice authors seem to write manuscripts that are either too short or too long. After writing their research dissertation, and then condensing it to papers, many authors include far too much detail. They can cut much of it. What had been an important learning point for a graduate student is not what a practiced journal subscriber needs to read. A rule for writing journal articles is Dont teach the teacher. Dont demonstrate all that you have learned. Only present the new that you have discovered. Some novice authors violate the one-ideaone-paper rule, and seek to publish a paper with two separate ideas. They should submit two shorter papers. A rule for them is One-ideaonepaper. Some authors who are seeking to use their publications to open career opportunities want the world to see everything they did. They include side issues and proofs in their manuscripts. They violate the rule Only include evidence that is essential to support the conclusions and claims. On the other hand, when the papers come first, many graduate students merely show proof-of-concept results, with inadequate grounding, no comprehensive analysis, or no discussion of the results and implications. Tables and figures do not explain. They just display numbers and lines. If you write Table 4 shows that Method A is better, or As can be seen in Figure 6, Method B works, you are not explaining it to your reader. Do not make your reader work to figure out how to interpret the data or graphs. One rule for authors of the too-short manuscripts is Clearly describe what the reader should see in all tables, figures, graphs, equations; and explain the logic of how the features lead to your conclusions. Another rule for them is Ground your work in the state of the art. Fully explain the problem, void, or inadequacy in the way things are done. Use literature (journals, periodicals, or patents) to defend your claims about the state of the art. Explain how your work solves the problem. And, another rule for them is Include sufficient evidence from independent approaches to credibly defend your work. Reveal that you have performed a complete and comprehensive study. A last rule is Attempt to critically reject your hypothesis. To illustrate this, here is my Theory of Positional Invariance. Theory of Positional Invariance: Like many laws of science, this theory starts with observations. One observation is that an astronomer on the South Pole measuring the mass of the moon will get the same value as an astronomer at the North Pole. Yet to one, the moon seems upside down; the crescent is backward. Here is another observation: Whether standing in front of me or behind me, my grandchildren still recognize my attributes as that of Pop. From these and many similar observations, I conclude that the orientation of something does not affect its nature. I observe that the + sign and the sign are exactly the same, except for a 45 degree positional rotation. Accordingly, applying the Theory of Positional Invariance, I expect the + and properties to be the same. Let us see if examples support the theory: 2+2=4=22 Yes. Here is another test:

(4.0) + (0.8) = (3.2) = (4.0) (0.8).


We find that it is also true for complex numbers:

(3.0 + i) + (1.4 0.2i) = 4.4 + 0.8i = (3.0 + i) (1.4 0.2i).


Wow! Why do they teach multiplication when addition is equivalent and much easier? That was fun, but the real takeaway is this rule for authors: Evidence authors submit needs to be

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

grounded in tests that would critically evaluate or reject the hypothesis, not in limited situations that make it appear to be true. Finally, the manuscript length is not really the issue. The substance is. We have several categories of manuscripts for ISA Transactions analysis, application, design, tutorial/review, editorial, and technical notes. So, a final rule to authors: Read the descriptions in the Authors Instructions, and be sure that the manuscript complies with the criteria for the category. 11. Plagiarism When an author copies material from another paper, and it ends up published in ISA Transactions, it makes a legal, political, ethical, embarrassing, and additional workload mess! Legal: The original publisher owns the copyright, the original author owns the intellectual property, and some organization owns the glory for having the original paper. They may represent entities or principals A, B, and C in countries D, E, and F. If a copied portion of the work is published elsewhere, the new publisher has violated the copyright rights of the original publisher. The new author, organization, and publisher may be entities G, H, and I in countries J, K, and L. Now, international law, as well as the law within several diverse countries, comes into play. The offended organization or individual can sue the offending organizations. We do not want to create a situation in which lawyers are the only winners! Political: The world looks down upon the unethical and illegal behavior of the offending authors country. We do not need more usthem finger pointing and prejudice. Ethical: The original author has contributions taken and claimed by others. The offending author is claiming rights to something she/he did not generate. Embarrassment: ISA Transactions will retract the article, remove it from all e-access, and publish a retraction notice in its place (acknowledging the article title and authors) as well as on a page within a subsequent ISA Transactions issue. The retraction is necessary to accommodate the legal claims. This results in a public humiliation of the authors, their institutions, and their countries. Some areas of the world do not assign the blame to their home team, but use a public retraction notice in a foreign publication as an opportunity to show how unfair and unjust certain other countries are. We do not need more fuel for unrest. Work: Any claim of plagiarism has editors and legal staff at ISA and Elsevier (our publisher) review the claims and subject articles. The process will likely include several email letters to the authors, giving them a chance to counter the claim, and end with several conversations between editors and staff about the appropriate action. Authors do not want to create such a mess that undermines their own future. There is no good way to detect plagiarism. Elsevier is starting to use CrossCheck for ISA Transactions articles, which will have access to all articles in Elseviers ScienceDirect, IEEE Explore, and the corresponding systems of Springer, Taylor and Francis, and Wiley. It will report an index that would indicate the extent of the manuscript that is suspiciously similar to something already in the data base. High numbers will be a flag for editors and reviewers to investigate. It is not a perfect measure. It may not catch copied photos, figures, or illustrations. It will not detect plagiarized sections of book chapters, conference papers, periodical articles, or old manuscripts that are not in the data base. It will identify self-plagiarized backgrounds, literature surveys, or introductions, which could be considered permissible. If there are 1000 world experts on a particular topic and three are chosen to review a manuscript, it is also likely that the three

will not be aware if the plagiarized work came from a source of low visibility. So, it may be possible to plagiarize work and get it published. But once published, and e-accessible by everyone interested in such keywords, it is likely that there are enough eyes and search engines to identify the plagiarism. Sometimes snippets from prior work are plagiarized. It is more and more frequent that graduate students are lead authors. A graduate student may not fully understand the criteria or consequences of plagiarism. He/she may find paragraphs and figures from published articles that state exactly what is desired as background or introduction, copy it, and include it in reports to the professor, which eventually migrates into a manuscript submission. There is no malice or pretense of claim in this situation, and the students subsequent investigation can be unique and make a contribution to the literature. However, this still has the same copyright and legal issues as an author who copies anothers article and submits it claiming it as his/her own. Here is a list of some things that might flag plagiarism for editors or reviewers.

Figures, illustrations, and photos have the fuzzy lines and offcolor background that arises from scanning and inserting a figure. Large versions of the figures should be crisp as an original. English proficiency changes between bad and good within an article. There are no references to the authors own work, or they seem included as a contrivance. Titles for figures or table have a reference citation (an indirect and inadequate acknowledgment of the reproduced work). It is acceptable to copy prior work if a table or figure is accompanied by a statement such as Reproduced with permission and a copy of the permission letter is included in the submission materials. It is also acceptable to use an explicit statement such as The following derivation is extracted from [4] and the extracted reproduction is in italics or quotations. To submit manuscripts, all authors must check the statement Everything in this manuscript represents my original work. It may be adequately true in the mind of the author, who is focused on the original contribution of the work, but not the introductory or background portions of the manuscript, which have a secondary importance to the author. It may be adequately true in the mind of the submitting author who many not be aware of how coauthors created their sections. Whether intended with malice, or not, plagiarism is defined by publication ethics and copyright law. Be sure that all aspects of your manuscript represent your original work. Take care to avoid plagiarism. Ensure that your reputation is not tainted by a violation of publication ethics. Take care of your future. 12. Research highlights Old-style electronic searches were based on keywords and words in the title. In the past, searches could find Experimental Control in Assessment Processes in a psychology article when you are searching for Experimental Demonstration of Process Control in an automation journal. However, todays search engines can find words within context. The Research Highlights list provides the essence of the manuscript within its context that enables search engine precision. Many authors need help understanding what to place here. Some post the conclusions, others the abstract. Neither is to be used. The abstract talks all about the article, but usually reveals no substance. It is often a teaser to get a reader to buy the article. Conclusions are often lengthy summary descriptions. Both are text

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

sections that should reveal proper syntax, grammar, and logical construction. The research highlights is a list of short sentences to reveal manuscript topic, scope, and primary conclusions. Three to four items are appropriate. Highlights should unambiguously reveal context and result, in a glance. Visit: http://www.elsevier.com/ wps/find/authorsview.authors/highlights. 13. Proof It is important for authors to establish the credibility of their work, to provide a basis for their claims. Some prefer to use mathematical proofs, others prefer examples of demonstrations. Both are important. Neither is complete. A proof is a mathematical analysis that shows a universal truth. For instance, you can use the final value theorem in Laplace space to mathematically prove that a proportionalintegral controller can be tuned to create a closed loop with zero steady-state offset, regardless of process gain or time constant for an open-loop stable linear process. Unfortunately, there is a deficiency to proofs. They are predicated on assumptions, and require the real world to comply with tractable mathematical functions. The real world is nonlinear, with variable delays, with physical equipment limitations (on temperature, level, pressure, for example), and subject to the unforeseeable combinations of the vagaries of Nature. The real world is unwilling to comply with our necessary idealizations for mathematical proofs. Mathematical proofs are good, but limited. Any claim authors make needs to be explicitly connected to the idealizations, assumptions, model forms, etc. which permitted the proof. Mathematical proof must also include a concistency check on all working equations. For instance: Does the modeled trend make mechanistic sense, or does it have too many inflections? When coefficients or variables are extrapolated to extreme values, does the equation reduce to an accepted ideal form? There is also a limitation to the use of simulations or experimental work. Examples and demonstrations cannot prove. Consider the Theory of Positional Invariance (Topic 10). There are an infinite number of examples that support the claim that the + operation provides the same results as the operation. Showing ten examples of a certain class that make the theory appear valid does not provide a proof. Examples may illustrate or show how to implement the concept or method. Examples may illuminate or clarify the concept or method. They may demonstrate applicability of the method and reveal how to interpret results. They may affirm or corroborate the claims. But, data cannot prove. Data can only disprove. When using examples, authors should not refer to the results as proving the claims, but should use appropriate terms such as illustrate, show, illuminate, clarify, demonstrate, reveal, affirm, corroborate, support, etc. Unlike mathematical proofs, examples cannot be used to establish a universal truth. Each example reveals a particular, specific situation. One example does not reveal all possible situations. Nor do ten examples reveal the universal applicability. Examples do support a claim, but cannot demonstrate general applicability or a universal truth. When using examples to support a claim, authors should choose cases that encompass the entire range of conditions; and the cases should be independent with no correlation of parameter values. Authors should choose examples that provide a critical, comprehensive test of the method. Authors should choose examples that are contrived to attempt to reject the claim. It is not the number of examples that supports a claim.

To establish credibility, there should be a sufficient number of claim-challenging, independent, tests over a wide range of conditions. And the discussion or interpretation should acknowledge the limits of the application and propagation of uncertainty. Authors will likely desire to choose examples that support their claim. If the method has limited applicability, they will want to choose examples that are compatible with that limited applicability. If such is the case, the claims should clearly reveal the limits. Do not use vague indications of the limits such as for a certain class of nonlinear systems. I do not think that we have devised a control algorithm that is universally applicable nonlinear, multivariable, constraint avoiding, fault tolerant, noise insensitive, computationally robust, simple, adaptive, over all possible process conditions. All methods have limits. I think it is unlikely that a future author will discover or invent the comprehensive universal solution. Authors should acknowledge the limits of their work. If the great names that preceded us could not develop the magic method, then there is no shame in our having incomplete solutions, also. Authors should use analytical proofs and/or examples to establish credibility. Neither approach is superior to the other. Either approach can sufficiently defend the claims. In either case, authors should devise the analysis and examples to critically test the method, and should include the limitations in the claims. 14. Details Submissions should represent your best, fully complete work. If reviewers detect errors in the manuscript, they will often stop reading and submit a reject recommendation, or not even respond. Submissions should not be a draft that you let reviewers check or editors correct. Reviewers and editors are accomplished, busy people who volunteer. Do not be a burden to them. When you and your co-authors think the manuscript is perfect, then submit it. Here are some details often overlooked by authors, which will cause reviewers to discount your work.

Significant figures Reveal that you understand the reportable


limits and uncertainty of your work. Only report significant figures. Units All numerical values (within tables, figures, illustrations, examples, text) should have dimensional units explicitly stated. SI units are preferred, but where alternate systems are used the SI value and units should be shown in parentheses. Units should be consistent (if pressure is reported in Pa units, it should not also be reported in bar units). Table and Figure Titles and Labels Labels need to be short, yet complete, and need to match the item. As authors create manuscripts, they occasionally use a prior table or graph as a template for the new data, but forget to change labels. Table, Figure, Equation, and Reference numbers Be sure the numbers are sequential, with no missing elements. After you edit and rearrange the manuscript, be sure that your text cites the right item. Table and Figure style What the reader sees should be crisp and focused. Eliminate wasted space. Format tables so that all entries are aligned. Format graphs to focus on the region of interest without clutter by default markers. Use markers for data, and lines for models. Use standard symbols in diagrams, figures, sketches, illustrations, flowcharts, etc. English use Get it right. This includes spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, articles, tense, pronouns, etc. Be sure to use a spelling and grammar checker. But, English use also includes many aspects that a spell-checker will not detect. Use accepted nomenclature (nouns and verbs) for an item or event. Eliminate redundancy. (Say it once. Do not use

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

In other words . . . . Then explain what you meant to say.) Eliminate pronouns. Do not use contractions, colloquialisms, or slang. Capitalize proper names (for example Table 3, Equation 7, or Row 5). Only animate objects can possess (. . . the boys shoe . . . , . . . the shoe lace . . . ). Equations Eliminate errors in derivation or reproduction. Matrix, vector, scalar notation is legitimate and consistent. Subscripts are carefully checked. The equations are dimensionally correct. (Often hidden coefficients, such as gc , are explicitly included. The argument of a log function is dimensionless.) Person A third-person perspective is preferred over a firstperson one to downplay the personal involvement in the data. Human involvement raises questions about possible bias that infects the work. Tense Use the readers time frame. The reader is seeing the data and equations now in the readers time frame, so use the present tense when describing results and derivations. The data shows . . . . The value is in Column 4. . . . Curve A crosses Curve B . . . . The derivation leads to the conclusion . . . . Insert Equation (3) into (7) to obtain . . . . Alternately, when you are talking about the experimental protocol, or the articles that were published, or events that have happened, you could use a past tense. Voice Instead of writing Active is preferred over passive use Write in an active voice. Make definitive statements. Too much passive voice will put the reader to sleep. Negatives Use positive expressions instead of negative ones. Do not say what it is not, does not, did not, etc. Say what it is, does, or did. This will make it clear for the reader. Additionally, use words with positive connotations to energize and stimulate your readers, so that they are willing to use your work. For example, . . . less perfect babies has a more positive impact than . . . ugly babies, but conveys the same concept. Vagueness Write explicit and specific descriptions. For instance, do not write When using a different input value the results are unique. The vague descriptor different could mean integer instead of rational, complex instead of real, or negative instead of positive. The vague descriptor unique could mean singular, or dual-valued, or an inflection point. Be explicit and specific to help your reader. Do not make your reader figure out the specifics. References Be sure that they are complete, accurate, properly formatted (see Authors Instructions), and recent. Be sure that they appear in the text. List them in order of appearance in the text. Nomenclature Be sure that all symbols are defined, and that there is a one-to-one correspondence between symbol and meaning. Do not use two symbols for one concept, or one symbol for two concepts. Use conventional symbols in accord with professional society standards. Define all symbols and acronyms at point of first use. Derivations Clearly reveal the method or approach to obtaining the working equations. Clearly reveal the basis, assumptions, limitations, or idealizations. Use sketches to help a reader understand the context and method. Except for obvious steps, clearly reveal the stages, method, and transformations in the derivation. Explaining the manuscript structure Do not waste your readers time or the publication page space by explaining, The rest of the manuscript is organized as follows . . . The structure of journal articles is fairly uniform, and section and sub-section headings reveal what follows. A text explanation is only needed where an unusual feature, perhaps an appendix, contains essential information. Manuscript format Comply with Authors Instructions. See published articles for examples.

15. Connectivity The readers mind follows the authors path through the manuscript. The readers mental understanding and image follows the authors presentation, and the author should provide the reader the needed step-by-step progression from one mental place to another. If the author does not explicitly guide the reader between thoughts or images whenever there is a discontinuity of the flow of the discussion or change in the topic, the reader becomes lost, remaining mentally on the last topic or image, and wondering how the author jumped to a new place. The author needs to provide connectivity between sections, between paragraphs, and between sentences. Sometimes the connectivity can be in the form of a leading word of a sentence or paragraph that places the new topic in context with the previous topic. Examples of useful connecting words are however, by contrast, in agreement, also considering, additionally, or the fourth and final reason. There are many. The title of a section or subsection provides a mind-set about the purpose of the section within the whole. Every bit of text within that section should be necessary to the title purpose (no extra topics or ideas) and every bit of text related to that title should be in that section (not elsewhere in the manuscript). The text within a section should have connectivity to the section title. Similarly, the manuscript title should have connectivity to the manuscript topics, results, and conclusions. There should be connectivity of each literature citation and the authors choices and conclusions. Do not list a host of related references in the hope that the reviewers will be selected from the cited authors, and that seeing their work referenced without negative commentary will favor manuscript acceptance. If this is your game, then you will simply list the great works. You will not provide a critique about relevance to your situation, purpose, or results. By contrast, add value to your reader. Provide the connectivity of each citation to your work. Use a discussion of the references to answer these questions: What is the incompleteness that you are filling? What is the drawback to the prior approach that you are seeking to fix? What is the finding in the cited work, and why do you choose to use it guide your work? The editor can tell whether a reviewer is miffed that his/her work was not referenced or because it was not reverently honored. There should be connectivity between your conclusions and your results. Do not extrapolate to new situations. Do not forecast the next stage. Do not aggrandize the findings. If the results show limited applicability, then the conclusions should indicate the connectivity to the relevant situations. Finally, the topic and style of the manuscript needs to be in compliance to the journal aims and scope, article types, and layout style. For any journal, read the Instructions to Authors. 16. Closing For me, journal publications are important to sharing best practices, innovative ideas, and stimulating the advance of scientific understanding and engineering principles. ISA Transactions, the Journal of Automation, seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice, to create synergism, and to advance the ability of practitioners to support societal desires for improved quality, reduced waste, improved safety, etc., which can be achieved through measurement and control. Without theory and fundamental analysis behind implementation, a trial-and-error advance of practice becomes risky, and the advances are often burdened with the misdirection of technical folklore. However, without grounding in the practice, research leads to recreational mathematics. Desirably, engineering is grounded in both fundamentals and its application context.

It is not the job of reviewers and editors to clean up the details, or to fix your English use. It is the authors job. Do not annoy the volunteers.

Letter to the editor / ISA Transactions (

If ISA Transactions is to fulfill its mission in stimulating advances, if it is to play a central role in advancing the science and engineering of measurement and control, and if it is to have a beneficial impact on human welfare, then it needs to bridge the gap between theory and practice. For me, contributing to human welfare is what scientists and engineers should be doing. We may feel good about ourselves when we show off how smart we are. We may get recognitions and appointments for being intellectually elite. We may take pride in the number of citations our article has. However, if our work does not come to fruition, if our work does not lead to products or techniques that are accepted by the practice, we have contributed nothing to human welfare. Because the volunteers that support a journal (authors, editors, and reviewers) mostly come from academia, there is a danger that a journal could become appropriated for academic purposes. A seduction trap for a journal is that, when managed by academics who seek excellence, it may become a repository for academic research and demonstrations of scholarly expositions, which have no possibility of synergizing with the practice. We volunteers need

to take care to ensure that ISA Transactions remains relevant to the practice and enables those who are contributing through product development and product application. Hopefully, the advice above will facilitate your ability to publish, and to have a positive impact on the advance of human aspirations. My thanks to Bob Bethea, Rich Felder, Afshin Ghajar, Ahmad Rad, Jan Wagner, and Qing-Guo Wang for their direct or indirect contributions. R. Russell Rhinehart Oklahoma State University, School of Chemical Engineering, 423 Engineering North, Stillwater, OK 74078-5021, United States E-mail address: rrr@okstate.edu. 7 November 2011 Available online xxxx
Tel.: +1 405 744 5280; fax: +1 405 744 6338.