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Editorial

Journal Articles and Conference Proceedings: Deontology and a Bit of History OPEN ACCESS

J. Mech. Des 131(6), 060201 (May 19, 2009) (1 page) doi:10.1115/1.3131862 History: Published May 19, 2009
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You may have noticed that the complete name of our journal is Transactions of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design. We refer to it simply as “JMD” for convenience and a bit for branding purposes. But why transactions?

The term “transactions” refers to “the often published record of the meeting of a society or association” (Merriam-Webster Online, 18 June 2009). The journal articles are then the published record of ASME meetings and of the scientific presentations researchers make in them. This is why you often see in a footnote of an article's first page the name and year of the conference where it first appeared.

In fact, the first ASME journal appeared as simply Transactions of the ASME in 1880. As meetings and specialty research areas grew and multiplied, so did the transactions. A title history of the various ASME journals can be found in http://www.asme.org/Publications/Journals/Administration/Title_History.cfm. For history buffs and for those who believe that we should learn history so we do not repeat our mistakes, the title Journal of Mechanical Design appeared first in 1978 as an offspring of the Journal of Engineering for Industry, which was itself established in 1959 and lived on under that title until it was renamed to its current title Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering in 1996.

Recall now the meaning of transactions. The meetings transacted in the journal were those of a growing number of technical committees within the ASME Design Division. So, young JMD became a child of parental contention, and after four short years, in 1982, it was renamed Journal of Mechanisms, Transmissions, and Automation in Design, as a glorious literal example of deciding by committee. It took eight years, a healthy dosage of community sarcasm and a courageous technical editor to restore the original JMD name in 1990. I guess it usually takes twice as long to fix a mistake than to commit one. In any case, JMD continued to evolve as some of its constituents moved on to generate new journals in Computing and Information Science in Engineering (2001), Medical Devices (2007) and Robotics and Mechanisms (2009). Some other gerrymandering involving other journals apparently also took place over time but it is beyond the scope of the present discussion.

I offer this bit of history to give you a context for the deontology applicable to the journal regarding conference papers. In principle, the journal archives a select number of research presentations made at ASME meetings and conferences. Since most conferences today generate proceedings, the journal archives a selection of papers that have appeared in proceedings. In the vast majority of cases, the conference paper and the transactions publication will have the same title.

Since conferences tend to emphasize work of current interest, in progress and somewhat ephemeral, a relatively small fraction of proceedings papers will end up in a transactions journal. In practice, research work can be accepted to the journal without prior appearance to conference proceedings as long as it meets the journal's archival standards. This can happen for several reasons, including inability of authors to attend a meeting and willingness by the Society to be inclusive of authors in that situation.

There are some deontological and practical points that we need to keep in mind.
  • A conference paper and its journal transaction appearance, if it occurs, are considered one and the same publication; those who count, count it as one.
  • A conference paper that has appeared in ASME proceedings is a fully-reviewed publication. In the spirit of the aforesaid transaction, it can be submitted to any appropriate ASME journal, but not to a non-ASME journal. In the latter case, it would be considered as duplicate publication and an ethical violation.
  • If a conference paper is rejected by one or more ASME transactions journal, the authors may choose to submit it to another journal outside ASME, but to do so they must first: (i) obtain copyright release from ASME and (ii) disclose to the editor of the other journal that the work has appeared as an ASME conference paper, and present the copyright release. ASME is quite generous about copyright releases.
  • Occasionally, an ASME conference paper may be considered as not fitting topically in any ASME transactions journal, in which case the authors should follow the same procedure as above.
  • Authors of papers from non-ASME conferences submitted to JMD should also follow the procedure above and inform the JMD editor.
  • An ASME conference paper may be altered significantly before its submission to a journal, and so the authors believe it to be truly a different paper. Such a submission should include the original conference paper in its references and explain what are the new contributions.
  • JMD will review submissions of papers that have appeared in any ASME conference proceedings, provided they fit JMD's purpose and scope; these can be found in http://journaltool.asme.org and http://www.asmejmd.org.
  • Submissions to an ASME conference and to JMD can be done concurrently, as the two review procedures are entirely separate. However, it is normal practice to present the work first at a conference and then at the journal.
  • Conference reviews cannot be used in determining publication in the journal. The same reviewers may be used if the editor or associate editor seeks such information from the conference organizers. However, given the current variety of reviewing structures for conference papers, this is often impractical despite some obvious potential efficiency.

Authors will benefit from participating in the relevant ASME conferences in many obvious ways, but there is no prejudice against submissions that are not related to an ASME conference. We have adopted this practice, even though it results in transactions not strictly so, because we want to encourage rather than oblige JMD authors to become active also in the Society's technical committees and meet personally with colleagues. Authors are persons. The value of our personas does not always come through fully in our papers.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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