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TMLR guidelines for action editors

This document provides instructions for action editors (AE). Before reading this section, make sure to also read and be familiar with the Editorial Policies, the Reviewer guidelines, the Ethics Guidelines, and the Code of Conduct.

Action Editor Responsibilities

As an AE, you are responsible for the following aspects of the review process:

Annual Quota  AE assignments are given on a rolling basis, as submissions are received. The default quota is 12 papers per year, but it is possible to change it through the openreview console, as well as to mark yourself temporarily unavailable for periods such as illness, vacation or work leave. On the other hand, you are generally expected to accept all AE requests of submissions that fall within your expertise and quota. Acceptable exceptions are if you have a conflict of interest with one of the authors.

Desk rejection of inappropriate submissions  The first step following an AE assignment is to determine (within 1 week) whether or not the submitted preprint is appropriate for TMLR and respects our submission guidelines. Clear cases of desk rejection include submissions that are not anonymized, submissions that do not use the unmodified TMLR stylefile and submissions that clearly overlap with work already published in proceedings (or currently under review for publication). If you suspect but are unsure about whether a submission might need to be desk rejected for any other reasons (e.g. lack of fit with the scope of TMLR or lack of technical depth), simply reach out to the Editors in Chief.  

Once you've confirmed that a submission is appropriate for TMLR, the submission becomes public and your identity as the AE responsible for the submission is revealed on OpenReview.

Assignment of reviewers  Once confirmed that a submission is appropriate for TMLR, you should assign it for review to at least 3 reviewers. You must make the initial assignment within a week of accepting a paper’s assignment. TMLR will give you access to a pool of reviewers who have already committed to reviewing for TMLR. However make sure to avoid reviewers who 1) have already filled their annual quota or 2) have an unsubmitted review, unless you’ve received confirmation from the reviewer that they are willing to take on this additional review. By default, reviewers are asked to submit their review within 2 weeks of their assignment. However, if the submission is longer than 12 pages (excluding any appendix), we ask you to permit a longer reviewing time frame.  
Some reviewers may proactively reach out to you through OpenReview and volunteer to review the work, and it is up to you to determine whether their review would be valuable for coming to a good decision for the submission. Though OpenReview will provide some basic mechanism to disallow undesirable conflicts of interests, it is your responsibility to ensure that the volunteer reviewer isn’t indeed in conflict with the authors of the submission and that they have the appropriate expertise to provide a valuable judgement on the submission. You can use the volunteer reviewer’s OpenReview profile to guide you in this decision. For instance, do not accept a volunteer reviewer with a profile that is incomplete, out of date or solely based on an unrecognizable personal email (as opposed to an institutional email).

Post-review discussion   Once the third review has been submitted, the authors are given a chance to take into account the reviewers’ feedback, answer any questions they may have asked and update their manuscript accordingly. You are responsible for making sure the reviewers engage actively in this discussion. You may also participate in the discussion yourself, by asking questions directly to the authors or starting a private conversation via OpenReview involving only the reviewers to try to reach a consensus, if possible. Since papers on OpenReview are visible to all, there might even be signed comments from non-reviewers that you think are relevant and would like to ask authors to react to. Overall, any intervention that will help you come to a decision recommendation for the submission is encouraged (as long as it maintains the anonymity of the authors and reviewers).

Our Ethics Guidelines describe TMLR’s ethical principles and establish common ground for editors, reviewers, and authors to evaluate the potential for harm of a proposed work. If you or any of the reviewers have concerns around the ethical implications of the submission, check whether the authors address the concerns in the (otherwise optional) Broader Impact Statement section of their preprint. In a situation where you would like an additional reviewer with ethics expertise, or if you suspect that no statement would make the work ethically acceptable, reach out to the Editors-in-Chief.

Based on their discussion with the authors, reviewers will submit their own recommendation to you on a decision for a submission no sooner than 2 weeks and no later than 4 weeks after the submission of the third review.

Decision and certification   Once all 3 reviewer decision recommendations have been submitted, you should aim to submit your decision proposal within 1 week. Your decision proposal should therefore be submitted within 5 weeks of the beginning of the discussion between authors and reviewers. If, and only if, authors and reviewers are still discussing the submission, you may decide to take more time.

There are 3 possible outcomes: Accept, Accept with minor revision and Reject (see Editorial Policies). As described in the Reviewer guidelines, acceptance decisions should be made based on two criteria:

Are the claims made in the submission supported by accurate, convincing and clear evidence?

Would at least some individuals in TMLR's audience be interested in the findings of this paper?

In addition to a decision, for accepted papers, you may also recommend a certification if you think the paper deserves to stand out with one such additional recognition.

Final verification of camera ready submission   As your final task for an accepted paper, you are asked to quickly verify that the camera ready manuscript complies with TMLR stylefile, with all author information inserted in the manuscript as well as the link to the OpenReview page for the submission.

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