Privacy and Security (TOPS)


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Author Guidelines



ACM TOPS Reviewing Process

  • All papers are submitted to TOPS Editor-in-Chief (except for special issues where the Guest Editor invites papers). Authors are required to provide full disclosure of prior publication, prior rejection and current submissions of this line of work by the authors. This includes not only the results specifically reported in the paper but also related results on the same topic. Information provided by the authors on prior rejection and current submission will be treated as confidential. At the author's request this information will be shared only by the Editor-in-Chief and the Editor assigned to handle the paper and kept confidential from reviewers.
  • Optional Step. The Editor-in-Chief or his delegate may optionally make a quick assessment on suitability and viability of the paper for TOPS. Papers can be rejected or returned for revision to the authors at this stage without full formal review.
  • The Editor-in-Chief forwards the paper to an Editor for processing. Authors may advise the Editor-in-Chief on Editors who should not be assigned for this paper and attendant reasons. Advice on Editors to assign is also welcome, but balancing load among Editors may take precedence over this advice.
  • The Editor is responsible for having the paper reviewed in a timely manner. The Editor makes recommendations to the Editor-in-Chief regarding rejection, acceptance or further revision of the paper. Revisions may be either major or minor, but at most one major revision is allowed per paper. Correspondence with the authors regarding revisions is typically done by the Editor. The Editor-in-Chief is copied on all correspondence.
  • All accepted papers are subject to a final editorial review by the Editor-in-Chief. This typically requires some minor changes by the authors with respect to presentation, citations and claims. The Editor-in-Chief reserves the right to reject a paper at this stage or to ask for substantial revision.
  • The final manuscript is forwarded by the Editor-in-Chief to ACM HQ. At this point the paper is considered to be "In Press." The process moves from the Editor-in-Chief to ACM HQ.
  • Note for Special Issues. TOPS special issues include papers invited from leading security research conferences by the Program Chair (or delegate of the Program Chair) who serves as Guest Editor. Authors are expected to substantially enhance such papers which undergo the same rigorous reviewing process applied to regular TOPS submissions. The Guest Editor handles all reviewing procedures and makes recommendations to the Editor-in-Chief. Everything else in the process remains the same.

TOPS's Reviewing Process State Diagram


Information for Authors


RELEVANCE. TOPS papers should have practical relevance to the construction, evaluation, application, or operation of security or privacy-critical systems and applications. Theoretical papers must make convincing argument for the practical significance of the results. Theory must be justified by compelling examples illustrating its application. TOPS can therefore reject perfectly good papers that are appropriate for theory-oriented journals. The mission of TOPS is to publish the best original research in the security discipline. Tutorial or survey papers are not suitable for TOPS.

Note: Submissions on watermarking or steganography are currently out of scope of interest for TOPS.

PAGE LIMIT. Submissions must not exceed 35 pages TOTAL in the ACM style. Papers over 35 pages will be rejected without review. Authors are encouraged to make excess material (if any) available on-line and refer to it in the submission. However, excess material will be read at the discretion of reviewers. The same rules apply to Special Issue papers. Accepted papers must also conform to the 35-page limit.

AUTHORSHIP INTEGRITY. All authors must be explicitly identified at the time of submission. Once identified, the set of authors must remain fixed (though ordering can change) through publication. In other words, addition and deletion of authors is not allowed, unless permission is granted by the Editor-in-Chief.

EXCLUSIVE SUBMISSION. Papers submitted to TOPS should not be under consideration for publication in any other journal or conference at the time of submission or any time during the TOPS review process. This includes ongoing discussion with editors of other journals regarding suitability of the paper (or closely related papers) for that journal in general or for a particular special issue. Similarly for conferences. Submission to TOPS implies exclusive consideration by TOPS 'till such time as official decision by the Editor-in-Chief has been made. Authors should submit a brief statement of compliance with this policy.

FULL DISCLOSURE. Authors are required to provide full disclosure of prior publication, prior rejection and current submission of this line of work by the authors. This includes not only the results specifically reported in the paper but also related results on the same topic. Information provided by the authors on prior rejection and current submission will be treated as confidential. At the author's request this information will be shared only by the Editor-in-Chief and the Editor assigned to handle the paper and kept confidential from reviewers.

PRIOR CONFERENCE PUBLICATION. While TOPS does publish work that has previously appeared in conferences, authors should note that we will not publish any paper verbatim (or close to verbatim) to a conference publication. Publication of such work in TOPS usually requires consolidation of several conference papers and significant additional new material which has not been previously published. Authors should submit such work to TOPS only after the paper has been presented at the conference so that any questions or comments from the presentation can be taken into account.

Please also see the "25% new material guideline" at ACM Policy on Prior Publication and Simultaneous SubmissionsIf applicable, authors should submit a brief statement explaining how their paper meets the "significant additional new material" requirement. In particular, papers invited for possible TOPS publication in special issues based on conferences must satisfy this policy. Authors should note that the "25%" requirement is not a sufficient condition and typically TOPS papers are enhanced beyond that minimum ACM requirement. The TOPS paper must have enough value-added for the reader and for archival purpose beyond the published record already available in the conference literature. Minor enhancements to conference papers will not be accepted. Papers that have previously appeared in journals, in whole or part, are not eligible for TOPS publication.

SUBMISSION PROCESS. Submission to TOPS is done via MANUSCRIPT CENTRAL at the following URL: 
All correspondence with the Editor-in-Chief should be conducted by email using the address: .

PAPER STYLE. Submissions should be based on guidelines given in instructions for Submitting Articles to ACM Journals. Use of the ACM Transactions format is strongly encouraged. These instructions are limited to LaTex and MSWord. Authors using other systems should exercise their judgement for a suitable format.

TIME LINE. Reviewing and editorial chores are all done by volunteers. Regrettably we cannot make any guarantees as to turn around time. Although there is nothing really "typical" about such things, a turn around time of 3-4 months for the first round of reviews is a reasonable expectation.

Author Rights

Working with the computing community, ACM leadership has responded to calls to make scholarly articles more openly accessible, to enable authors to exercise greater control of their published works, and to comply with the increasing demands placed on authors by funding agencies. 

ACM authors now have three ways to manage their publication rights with ACM:

  1. A license granting ACM non-exclusive permission to publish—by choosing to pay for perpetual open access from the ACM Digital Library, authors may opt to self-manage all rights to their work. 
  2. A new Publishing License Agreement granting ACM exclusive publication rights—in choosing this license authors grant ACM the right to serve as the exclusive publisher of their work and to manage ongoing rights and permissions associated with the work, including the right to defend it against improper use by third parties. This exclusive license is roughly the equivalent of ACM’s traditional Copyright Transfer Agreement except that the author continues to hold copyright. 
  3. ACM's traditional Copyright Transfer Agreement—for authors comfortable with the existing agreement.

Learn more by visiting the Information for Authors webpage.

ACM Author-izer Service

Once your manuscript is published, we recommend that you use the newly launched ACM Author-Izer service. This service allows you to generate and post a link on your home page or institutional repository to your published article. This link will let any visitors to your personal bibliography pages download the definitive version of the articles for free from the ACM DL. These downloads will be recorded as part of your DL usage statistics. A detailed description of the service and instructions for its use may be found at:

ACM Computing Classification System (CCS)

An important aspect of preparing your paper for publication by ACM Press is to provide the proper indexing and retrieval information from the ACM Computing Classification System (CCS). This is beneficial to you because accurate categorization provides the reader with quick content reference, facilitating the search for related literature, as well as searches for your work in ACM's Digital Library and on other online resources.

Language Services

ACM has partnered with International Science Editing (ISE) to provide language editing services to ACM authors. ISE offers a comprehensive range of services for authors including standard and premium English language editing, as well as illustration and translation services, and also has significant international outreach, especially in China. Editing is available for both Word and LaTeX files. As an ACM author, you will receive a generous discount on ISE editing services.

To take advantage of this partnership, visit  (Editing services are at author expense and do not guarantee publication of a manuscript.)

Please note that formatting assistance is provided at no charge to authors by Aptara, as specified on the author style guide page:


ACM is transitioning to the new authoring templates found at:  The new TeX template consolidates all eight individual ACM journal and proceedings templates.  The templates are updated to the latest software versions, were developed to enable accessibility features, and they use a new font set. Please note: Separate Word for Windows and Word for Mac consolidated templates are also available.
We will continue to accept manuscripts using the previous template format through Spring 2017.
The new TeX template requires that a call be made within the source document  for “\documentclass” so that an article is formatted according to the specifications to the publication. Detailed instructions can be found in section 2.2 of the User and Implementation Guide (

For further assistance

  • Questions regarding editorial review process should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief.
  • Questions regarding the post-acceptance production process should be addressed to the ACM Journals Manager, Laura A. Lander.
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