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Papers for the Journal of the ACM must be of high quality and fall within the scope of the journal. There are three main criteria for a paper to be accepted:
Few papers excel in all three, but a substandard level in any is sufficient grounds for rejection. This means that papers that may well be in first-rate journals may not be accepted to JACM. In any case, it is the authors’ job to make it clear why the paper is important and of broad interest. We ask authors to consult a recent issue of JACM for reference.
To ensure that authors feel comfortable submitting despite these high standards, we aim for a two-step review process. In the first step, the editor-in-chief or an associate editor may reject the paper if it is clearly out of scope or does not meet the standards of JACM. Alternately, referees may be asked to scan the paper to decide if it meets the acceptance criteria of JACM, even assuming that all the results are correct as stated. If it seems that the paper might satisfy these criteria, either the same or different referees are asked to provide a more in-depth review.
If a paper is rejected from JACM but still seems publishable and the referees are agreeable, we often offer authors the option of having the reviews forwarded to the editor-in-chief of a more appropriate journal.