SIAM News Blog

Q&A with Tim Kelley, SIAM Review Editor-in-Chief

SIAM Publications Manager Mitch Chernoff interviews Tim Kelley, SIAM Review Editor-in-Chief:

SIREV is SIAM’s flagship journal, dating from 1959. The current format dates to a widely embraced redesign first seen in 1999’s Volume 41.  Where does SIREV go from here?

SIREV’s challenge is to keep pace with the community. We review the editorial board each year for coverage and diversity. The journal experiments all the time. The Research Spotlights section is an example of that experimentation. I have high expectations for Research Spotlights.

I’m also very pleased with the progress the Education section has made since 1999. Education has published some very significant reports on issues such as CSE program development. I hope that those of us in academia can use these reports to convince our management about the importance of applied and computational mathematics in the curriculum.

SIREV’s mission differs greatly from SIAM’s specialized research journals. The sections make up a whole, and it’s four times each year we see it published as a full issue. Talk about each section:

Survey and Review

Survey and Review and Book Reviews have been part of SIREV since the beginning. Survey and Review is healthy and we continue to receive excellent submissions. Writing a Survey and Review paper is a great way for an author to get visibility for her/his work. I encourage prospective authors to contact Des Higham, the section editor, for advice on writing a survey paper for SIREV’s very diverse readership.

Research Spotlights

Research Spotlights opened for business in 2012 when Ray Tuminaro took over as section editor. The old name was Expository Research Papers, and Ray and I felt that the new name better reflected the broader class of papers we wanted to see. We’ve had more than the usual amount of turnover in RS, with Steve Wright and now Evelyn Sander as section editor. The idea that RS is open to a very broad variety of topics has been constant. For example, we would like to continue to publish papers about software. Evelyn is eager to talk with potential authors about their ideas.


SIGEST papers are taken from the research journals. When a journal’s turn comes up, I ask the Editor-in-Chief to ask the board for ideas for papers that are not only scientifically good, but so well-written that SIREV’s readership can appreciate the results. The section editors of SIREV then review the nominees from the journal and select one. We usually ask the authors to add some introductory material to put the work in perspective for SIREV’s readers. I get to write the introductions for SIGEST papers, and it’s both fun and challenging for me to understand the paper well enough to do that. A SIGEST paper counts as a separate publication and as an award. SIGEST authors are recognized at the awards luncheon at the SIAM Annual Meeting.


The Education section does more than publish papers on the subject. We also publish reports on education issues. I’d like to see more people in the community think of the section as an outlet for their ideas on education. For example, a clever take on a topic in an entry-level course could be a good start on a paper for the section. Lou Rossi, the section editor for Education, is the point of contact for potential authors.

Book Reviews

Bob O’Malley will step down as section editor at the end of 2014. Bob has been Book Reviews editor since 2000 and finding a proper replacement has been the most interesting part of my job as EIC. I’m delighted to report that David Watkins will be taking over in 2015.

As SIREV Editor-in-Chief for the past three and a half years, what changes have you seen in just that brief interval. What are the rewards of being EIC; conversely, what are the toughest challenges?

SIREV is very different from the research journals. I was editor-in-chief of the SIAM Journal on Optimization some years ago, and that was very different from being EIC of SIREV. One big part of the SIOPT job was keeping track of the papers and making sure the editorial board was broad enough to handle the traffic. SIREV is a very small journal, and my role is close to that of the Vice President for Publications (a job I’ve also done). The section editors handle the papers, and the management part of my job is to appoint the section editors and make sure the board as a whole is broad and diverse. The fun part is writing the SIGEST intros.

What are the most significant of the many recent changes in scholarly publishing? What is the biggest challenge faced by society publishers such as SIAM?

The major change in publishing has been electronic distribution. This is not the problem for journals that many of us expected it to be. SIAM adds value with careful refereeing and copy editing, and the libraries still value that.  Much of SIAM’s cost is preparing the files for print and for electronic posting, which includes both copy editing and composition. Our pagination is increasing as submissions increase, and fully recovering the increase in our costs is an ongoing challenge.

Recently it’s become possible to go completely paperless as a SIAM member. The electronic version of SIREV has been available for years, and SIAM News has a new (and really good) version on the web. I’ve been an electronic-only reader of SIAM Review for a long time, and have made the switch to SIAM News on the web.

SIAM members gain a free subscription to SIREV. That’s a benefit tied to your own work with the journal. Share with us benefits you’ve gained from your association with SIAM over the years. What first interested you in the society?

SIAM has been very, very good to me.

I went to my first SIAM meeting when I was a postdoc and felt at home immediately. SIAM has been a large part of my career since that time. Much of my research comes from ideas I get at SIAM conferences. I have great fun with the professional activities SIAM’s given me the opportunity to do. Running SIREV, for example, is a great job.

Tim Kelley is Drexel Professor of Mathematics at North Carolina State University.

Mitch Chernoff is the Publications Manager at SIAM.

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