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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 papers must be of high quality and fall within the scope of the journal. There are four main ingredients to an acceptable paper:
Few papers excel in all of these, but a substandard level in any is sufficient ground for rejection. Many papers require substantial revisions before acceptance, and reviewers should not hesitate to recommend that a paper be rejected pending changes that are required for completeness, correctness, or to substantially improve clarity. More specific criteria apply to papers presenting theoretical results. TOPS does not accept papers that belong in more theoretical journals (e.g. JACM). This does not imply that all theoretical papers are to be rejected; rather it implies that theoretical papers that cannot establish their direct relevance to current issues in the development of secure systems will generally be rejected. An acceptable paper of this type should contain: (a) motivation and technical analysis of the method, (b) evidence of effectiveness and practicality, and (c) demonstration of superiority compared to alternative approaches. In addition, reviewers should be aware that standards for originality and impact are unusually stringent in these cases.
For more information on specific topics, see the ACM publications policies.