In a bout of temporary insanity, I've agreed to serve as Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks, which is probably the top journal in the field. Feng Zhao, the Assistant Managing Director of Microsoft Research Asia, has been the EIC since the journal's inception some six (?) years ago, and has done a fantastic job building up the journal and putting together a fantastic editorial board. I've been on the editorial board for a while and overall the quality of the submissions is pretty high. It's an honor to be selected for this role and I hope to keep up the great work that Feng has started.
Systems people tend to eschew journals in favor of conference publications, but I still think that TOSN has an important role to play in the sensor nets community. We need a place to publish longer, more thorough papers than what you can typically cram into a 14-page conference submission. We need a place for papers of high quality that just won't make it into a decent conference -- retrospectives, position papers, surveys, and so forth.
Of course, a major problem with journal submissions (and TOSN in particular) is the very long review cycle. It's just not acceptable for papers to take a year (or more!) to get reviews back. Having served as an associate editor I know how hard it is to corral reviews from good people and get things done in a timely fashion. Of course, some AE's are better at cracking the whip than others. We also need more regular turnover of the editorial board membership to avoid burnout.
Coming into the job, I have three main ideas for how to improve TOSN's standing in the community. Of course I'm open to any and all suggestions beyond these:
1. Improving the connection between TOSN and sensor network conferences. I think it's important that we formalize a process whereby the best papers from SenSys, IPSN, and other venues are fast-tracked to TOSN. We should be more proactive about this and give authors a chance to use TOSN as a venue for publishing a "journalized" version of a good conference paper. This has been done informally for a while but I plan to make the process much more overt.
2. Encouraging submissions of survey papers, article versions of PhD dissertations, and retrospectives. We need more outreach to the community to make it clear that we want these kinds of submissions. Again, this is mainly about being more proactive about soliciting these papers and getting the word out.
3. Introducing special issues. Feng made the decision to avoid special issues in the early life of the journal, for the good reason that it was important to establish TOSN before branching out to specialized topics. Now that TOSN is well established, I think the time is right to have 1 or 2 special issues a year, especially on topics that may be difficult to publish in a conventional manner. One example would be a special issue on industry experiences with sensor networks. If you have suggestions for special issues (or better yet, would like to serve as editor for one!) please let me know.