ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction (THRI)


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Information and Guidelines for Reviewers

Thank you for agreeing to review a paper for ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction. The editorial board of THRI is committed to publishing the most interesting and stimulating papers in Human-Robot Interaction. We do this by reviewing papers with great care and expertise, and carrying out that reviewing and publishing efficiently and rapidly.  Please do read the entirety of this page to help THRI achieve these aims.

Efficient reviewing is essential to the success of THRI. To publish papers in a timely fashion, we allow 30 days from receipt of the paper to prepare a THRI review. It is important that you commit to this timeframe. Otherwise the entire publication pipeline begins to slow down.

Encourage diversity in our published papers and you will help make THRI interesting. We want to also encourage creative and imaginative papers, those that stimulate and provoke as well as enlighten. We will stand in the mainstream, but also welcome papers that are clever, or surprising, or present radical new directions for Human-Robot Interaction.

Review compassionately and you can make the difference between a mediocre paper lost forever and one that is revised to publication quality and contributes to the field. Please write reviews that are meaningful for the author. Speak in particulars, not generalities. Never characterize the authors. Give constructive criticism when discussing a problem. If there are major flaws, identify them as clearly as possible.

Be positive in order to make the best impact; consider each paper in its best possible sense. Look for the most useful and interesting ideas. Try to make suggestions to the author that will make the paper as good as it can be, whether it is already wonderful or in great need of help.


Ethics of review

Protect confidentiality

As a THRI reviewer, you have the responsibility to protect the confidentiality of the ideas represented in the submitted papers. THRI submissions are by their very nature not published documents. The work is considered new or proprietary by the authors; otherwise they would not have submitted it. Protection of the ideas in the paper you receive means:

  • Do not show the paper to anyone else, including colleagues or students, unless you have asked them to write a review, or to help with your review.
  • Do not show videos to non-reviewers.
  • Do not use ideas from the paper to develop new ones, until the paper has been published.

Avoid conflict of interest

Even though you would, of course, act impartially on any paper, there should be absolutely no question about the impartiality of review. Thus, if you are assigned a paper where your review would create a possible conflict of interest, you should return the paper and not submit a review. Conflicts of interest include (but are not limited to) situations in which:

  • You work at the same institution as one of the authors.
  • You have been directly involved in the work and will be receiving credit in some way. If you're a member of the author's thesis committee, and the paper is about his or her thesis work, then you were involved.
  • You suspect that others might see a conflict of interest in your involvement. For example, even though Microsoft Research in Seattle and Beijing are in some ways more distant than Berkeley and MIT, there is likely to be a perception that they are "both Microsoft", so folks from one should not review papers from the other.
  • You have collaborated with one of the authors in the past three years (more or less). Collaboration is usually defined as having written a paper or grant proposal together, although you should use your judgment. For instance, being coauthors in either a course or survey paper generally should not in itself lead to a conflict of interest.
  • You were the MS/PhD advisor of one of the authors or the MS/PhD advisee of one of the authors. Funding agencies typically consider advisees to represent a lifetime conflict of interest.
  • You have unpublished work that would get scooped by the current submission because it tackles the same problem using a similar approach. At a minimum, such a cross-reviewing conflict should be declared to the editor in a private comment.

Remain anonymous

All reviewers are expected to maintain anonymity forever. In particular, it is never appropriate for a reviewer to reveal himself or herself to the authors of an accepted paper, as this could be perceived as an attempt to curry favor. Requesting citations primarily to one's own work may thwart anonymity, so should be carefully considered.

Be professional

Belittling or sarcastic comments may help display one's wit, but they are unnecessary in the reviewing process. The most valuable comments in a review are those that help the authors understand the shortcomings of their work and how they might improve it.

General ACM policies

For more information on specific topics, see the ACM publications policies.

Review Criteria and Format


The THRI review process aims to provide both a thorough review for intellectual quality and constructive feedback for submitting authors.  A scientific review essentially constructs a sound, dispassionate, and properly supported argument.  Thus, each of the responses in a THRI review aims to build an sound argument.  This review feedback has direct implications for the disposition decision of a submission based on the criteria above.  

Clarity and Composition

Submissions that are not sufficiently clear or reproducible implies a revision or rejection disposition.  For such submissions, please provide feedback describing revisions necessary for acceptance.

Novelty and Contribution Scope

Submissions that are not demonstrably novel implies either a revision (to establish a clear and distinct contribution) or rejection.  Any claim that the submission's contribution is addressed in prior work must be supported by at least 3 citations with independent authorship.


Submissions lacking in scientific validity implies either a revision (to establish proper experimentation and/or contribution scope) or rejection.


Submissions outside the scope of relevance to HRI should be revised, redirected to another suggested journal, or rejected.  It is critical to note HRI can include technical contributions to robotics without empirical human-centered studies, and vice versa.

Scientific Reproducibility

An accept recommendation asserts this submission is scientifically reproducible, in accordance with ACM standards.  Submissions that have been reproduced, externally or as part of this review, can be recommended for badging based on criteria set by ACM Publications.

Conflicts of Interest

A valid review must assert it has not created a conflict of interest.  Conflicts of interest can occur (but is not limited to) when: a reviewer is at the same institution as a submitting author, a reviewer has collaborated with as a submitting author in the past 3 years, a reviewer has been directly involved in the work and will be receiving credit in some way, the reviewer has ever been an advisor or advisee for a submitting author, or a reviewer's involvement could create a perception of undue influence.  If a reviewer has unpublished work in direct relation to the current submission (i.e., addresses the same problem using a similar approach), such a cross-reviewing conflict should be declared in the confidential comments, at a minimum.

Guidelines for Special Issue Proposals

THRI special issues are an important mechanism for presenting a focused collection of significant work from areas of high innovation and activity to the HRI community. THRI expects one special issue per year and considers only “open call” special issues; that is, special issues that are announced worldwide to all relevant scholars, that consider submissions from anyone, and that review submissions as rigorously as non-special issue submissions. THRI does not consider special issues that are workshop proceedings or that otherwise gather the work of a group of authors designated in advance.

Proposals for special issues should be submitted using Manuscript Central. Begin your submission as you would a paper, but select “Special Issue Proposal” from the drop-down menu on the first page of the submission form. Proposals must include (a) the following components in 1-2 pages and (b) a draft CFP:

  1. Scope and focus of the special issue
  2. Timeline
    • Paper submission deadline
    • Notification of initial review
    • Revision deadline
    • Notification of final review
    • Camera-ready deadline
    • Publication
  3. List of guest editors (name, affiliation, contact address)
  4. List of potential contributors
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