For Reviewers

Review Process
Submission Types
Open Science Data
Decision Categories, Two-Strike-Rule, Supplemental Files, and Overall Impression
Login for Editors & Reviewers
Information for Editorial Board Members

Submission and reviewing guidelines for the Semantic Web – Interoperability, Usability, Applicability journal.

Review Process

The Semantic Web Journal relies on an open and transparent review process. Submitted manuscripts are posted on the journal's website and are publicly available. In addition to solicited reviews selected by members of the editorial board, public reviews and comments are welcome by any researcher and can be uploaded using the journal website. All reviews and responses from the authors are posted on the journal homepage. All involved reviewers and editors will be acknowledged in the final printed version. While we strongly encourage reviewers to participate in the open and transparent review process it is still possible to submit anonymous reviews.

The standard workflow of the review process is as follows.

  1. Authors submit their article using the journal website. Submissions are screened to filter out articles which clearly fail to match the quality standards of the journal - these are rejected outright.
  2. The article is made available on the journal website. The submission is announced on the journal blog. An editorial board member (EBM) is assigned to the article.
  3. The EBM solicits three reviews, usually to be completed within 6 weeks. The EBM also openly invites other researchers in the area to write public reviews for the manuscript.
  4. The reviews of the solicited reviewers are posted on the journal website – usually together with their names and affiliations (the EBM may elect to arrange a brief discussion among the solicited reviewers, in particular if opinions differ drastically). Reviewers may choose to remain anonymous. Any other researcher can choose to become a reviewer for the article by posting a non-anonymous review on the journal homepage. These reviews will be made available as soon as the solicited reviews are online.
  5. The EBM, together with the journal editors, decide on acceptance or rejection of the article.
  6. If the article gets accepted, all reviewers and editors which were substantially involved are named in the final version.
  7. The authors are strongly encouraged to upload the final drafts of accepted versions on their local websites. The official SWJ layout version will be made available through IOS Press.

Authors of rejected manuscripts may request, after a minimum of 4 weeks following the notification, that their articles and reviews are removed from the public journal website and made available only to members of the Editorial Board. The journal editors reserve the right to remove reviews which do not follow established good scholarly practice.

Please note that authors and reviewers shall not directly discuss papers under review or under revision without approval by the editors-in-chief. Papers by authors who violate this directive may be rejected without completing the review process. If you suspect a violation of this directive, please contact the editors-in-chief.

Submission Types

The journal invites high-quality submissions on all topics related to the Semantic Web, including the use of semantic technologies in other contexts than the World Wide Web. Submissions can fall in one of the following categories. Reviewers should include in their reviews an explicit discussion of the review criteria mentioned for the respective paper category. Please note that some review criteria can be addressed via supplemental files as detailed below.

  • Full papers – containing original research results. Results previously published at conferences or workshops may be submitted as extended versions. These submissions will be reviewed along the usual dimensions for research contributions which include originality, significance of the results, and quality of writing. We encourage authors to write their papers and more specifically the evaluation sections in a style and level of detail that enables the replication of their results.
  • Survey articles – full-length papers surveying the state of the art of topics central to the journal's scope. Authors may want to contact the editors before writing a survey. Survey articles should have the potential to become well-known, highest quality introductory and overview texts. These submissions will be reviewed along the following dimensions: (1) Suitability as introductory text, targeted at researchers, PhD students, or practitioners, to get started on the covered topic. (2) How comprehensive and how balanced is the presentation and coverage. (3) Readability and clarity of the presentation. (4) Importance of the covered material to the broader Semantic Web community.
  • Dataset Descriptions - short papers (typically up to 10 pages) containing a concise description of a Dataset / knowledge graph. The paper shall describe in concise and clear terms key characteristics of the dataset as a guide to its usage for various (possibly unforeseen) purposes. In particular, such a paper shall typically give information, amongst others, on the following aspects of the dataset: name, URL, version date and number, licensing, availability, etc.; topic coverage, source for the data, purpose and method of creation and maintenance, reported usage etc.; metrics and statistics on external and internal connectivity, use of established vocabularies (e.g., RDF, OWL, SKOS, FOAF), language expressivity, growth; examples and critical discussion of typical knowledge modeling patterns used; known shortcomings of the dataset. Papers will be evaluated along the following dimensions: (1) Quality and stability of the dataset - evidence must be provided. (2) Usefulness of the dataset, which should be shown by corresponding third-party uses - evidence must be provided. (3) Clarity and completeness of the descriptions. Papers should usually be written by people involved in the generation or maintenance of the dataset, or with the consent of these people. We strongly encourage authors of dataset description paper to provide details about the used vocabularies; ideally using the 5 star rating provided here.
  • Descriptions of ontologies – short papers describing ontology modeling and creation efforts. The descriptions should be brief and pointed, indicating the design principles, methodologies applied at creation, comparison with other ontologies on the same topic, and pointers to existing applications or use-case experiments. It is strongly encouraged, that the described ontologies are free, open, and accessible on the Web. If this is not possible, then the ontologies have to be made available to the reviewers. For commercial ontologies, exceptions can be arranged through the editors. These submissions will be reviewed along the following dimensions: (1) Quality and relevance of the described ontology (convincing evidence must be provided). (2) Illustration, clarity and readability of the describing paper, which shall convey to the reader the key aspects of the described ontology.
  • Application reports – short papers describing deployed applications of Semantic Web technologies. The reports should be brief and pointed, indicating clearly, in what sense and to what extent semantic technologies have been used in the application. These submissions will be reviewed along the following dimensions: (1) Quality, importance, and impact of the described application (convincing evidence must be provided). (2) Clarity and readability of the describing paper, which shall convey to the reader the key ideas regarding the application of Semantic Web technologies in the application.
  • Reports on tools and systems – short papers describing mature Semantic Web related tools and systems. These reports should be brief and pointed, indicating clearly the capabilities of the described tool or system. It is strongly encouraged, that the described tools or systems are free, open, and accessible on the Web. If this is not possible, then they have to be made available to the reviewers. For commercial tools and systems, exceptions can be arranged through the editors. These submissions will be reviewed along the following dimensions: (1) Quality, importance, and impact of the described tool or system (convincing evidence must be provided). (2) Clarity, illustration, and readability of the describing paper, which shall convey to the reader both the capabilities and the limitations of the tool. See also the comments at and FAQ 20 at .
    A paper concerning a new release of a tool/system for which a (tool/system) paper has already been published in the journal must cite the earlier paper and clearly explain what contributions are brought by the new release. The cover letter must also point out that it is a paper concerning a new release. These papers will be evaluated with respect to the standing criteria for tools/systems papers, and in addition with respect to all of the following. (a) The changes to the tool/system since the previous paper must sufficiently substantial to deserve a new paper. These changes must be described clearly in the paper. (b) The system must have had significant additional uptake since acceptance of the previous paper; convincing evidence must be provided. (c) The previous paper must have had significant visibility within or outside the community. This will typically be assessed by citation counts (not including self-citations) of the previous paper, and this assessment will be performed by the reviewers and editors. It is strongly recommended to contact the editors-in-chief about a preliminary assessment, before submitting such an update paper.

For alternative types of submissions, please contact the editors.

Open Science Data

The Semantic Web journal support Open Science Data in the sense that it requires, whenever possible, that authors provide relevant data and software for evaluation and replication. Hence, beginning 1 May 2021, the Semantic Web journal is imposing a requirement on authors to provide data and software relevant to a paper submission to the maximum extent to which this is feasible. Furthermore, data and software are required to be hosted at a long-term stable URL, without any subsequent changes allowed to be made. The adequacy of the provided data and software for assessment of the paper submission, as well as for the replication of any experiments reported on, is assessed during peer review. There is a transition period for paper resubmissions, until August 31st, i.e. revised versions submitted until August 31st can, but do not have to, meet the new requirements. Please see our corresponding blog post for more details.

  • Authors are requested to provide a URL to a file (e.g., a ZIP archive) with resources. There are two reasons for this, namely
    • (1) in order to have available all resources required to replicate experiments, and
    • (2) in case the paper produces data artifacts (such as knowledge graphs or ontologies) so that there is a stable version available for future reference.
  • Please include in your review an assessment of the data file along the following dimensions:
    • (1) Organization of the file, i.e., it is the authors’ responsibility to organize the data file such that your assessment is not too complicated. There should be a README file.
    • (2) If applicable, whether the provided resources appear to be complete for replication of experiments and if not, why. We understand that this is difficult to assess with absolute certainty. Please make a reasonable assessment (e.g., based mainly on the README file), and indicate in the review to what depth you have done the assessment.
    • (3) Assess the appropriateness of the chosen repository if it is not GitHub, Figshare, or Zenodo. Does it follow repository-discoverability? Does it, or will it, have a DOI?
    • (4) If applicable, whether created data artifacts appear to be fully included in the file - if not, then the authors should give convincing reasons for this in the submitted paper. We understand that this is difficult to assess with absolute certainty. Please make a reasonable assessment (e.g., based mainly on the README file), and indicate in the review to what depth you have done the assessment.

Decision Categories, Two-Strike-Rule, Supplemental Files, and Overall Impression

Decisions on submitted manuscripts are one of the following.

  1. Accept
  2. Minor revisions required
  3. Major revisions required
  4. Reject

They mean the following:

  1. The manuscript is suitable for publication and only requires minor polishing; thus, no further reviews are requested.
  2. The authors are required to make moderate changes to their manuscript. The manuscript becomes acceptable for publication if the changes proposed by the reviewers and editors are successfully addressed. The revised manuscript will be sent back to all (or a selection of) reviewers for a second round of reviews. Authors are requested to provide a letter to the reviewers detailing the improvements made for the resubmission.
  3. The manuscript cannot be accepted for publication in its current form. However, a major revision which addresses all issues raised by the reviewers may be acceptable for publication. The revised manuscript will undergo a full second round of review. Authors are requested to provide a letter to the reviewers detailing the improvements made for the resubmission. The two-strike-rule described below applies to all manuscripts that received a major revision decision, i.e., the next round of reviews needs to be a minor revision or an accept.
  4. In its current form, the manuscript is not suitable for publication. A resubmission would require substantial revisions and is only encouraged in special cases. The editors should to be contacted before resubmitting a previously rejected paper.

The journal furthermore implements a two-strike-rule, as follows: If a submitted paper receives a "major revisions required", then a submitted revised paper needs to receive a "minor revisions required" or an "accept", otherwise it will be rejected.

Please note that there are two ways to address review criteria such as importance, usefulness, relevance, stability, and impact, namely within the submission or as publicly visible supplemental files published on the journal's webpage. Journal articles should be written with future readers and their interests in mind; hence, detailed arguments about the relevance or maintenance of a dataset or ontology are best described in supplemental files as these are important during the review phase but not necessarily of interest for future readers. Authors that decide to submit publicly visible supplemental files are nonetheless asked to briefly comment on all review criteria within their submission.

In addition to the decision categories, reviewers are also asked to provide an overall impression score (ranging from 0-100). It is important to note that the score is not necessarily aligned with the decision categories. For instance, a manuscript may present highly innovative and ground breaking work (and thus receive a very high overall impression) but may require substantial language editing, changes to the figures, and the structure, that sum up to a major revision. Similarly, a paper may be well polished and technically flawless but the delta to existing work may be rather small. Consequently, a reviewer may want to indicate that the manuscript at hand requires merely minor changes to become acceptable but that the potential impact of this incremental work is rather low. Simply put, the overall impression provides an additional perspective for the SWJ editors to estimate the quality, suitability, and priority of manuscripts.

Submitting Reviews

To submit a solicited review, please do so by logging in with the account for which the review has been solicited. Then follow the "Reviewer Actions" menu on the left. As always, we suggest that reviews are written in such a way that they will survive a browser crash, a session timeout, loss of wifi signal, and so forth, and then uploaded to the SWJ form once the review is finalized.

To submit an open review, please login on this site and post the review as a comment to the manuscript page. Note that all reviews will be screened for appropriate language before being made available publicly.

Information for Editorial Board Members

EB workflow (access restricted to EB members)