We are currently trying to submit a comprehensive survey article I have been working on for a while as a journal paper. Some of the journals we're considering (I'm in Computer Science) require, for survey articles, submitting a 2-5 page white paper to the Editor-in-Chief, in order to evaluate the relevance of the proposed survey (upon which the EiC would either discourage or encourage the submission of a full survey):

Authors interested in submitting overview articles are required to consult first with the Editor-in-Chief (EiC) of their Transactions of choice before submitting a white paper proposal. White papers are limited to 2-pages and should motivate the topic, justify the proposal, and include a list of relevant bibliography including any available tutorial or overview articles related to the subject matter. (...) The EiC solicits input from the Editorial Board on whether to encourage submission of a full paper.

(specific requirements example taken from: http://www.signalprocessingsociety.org/publications/overview-articles/)

I have found some questions on the topic if white papers, but it looks to me like all of those are either concerning short standalone papers, or white papers for grants, which differs a bit from my situation.

Just to summarize, this white paper (2-5 pages, depending on the journal) is not ment to ever be published, but rather to help the Editor-in-Chief and the Editorial Board in deciding on the relevance of the proposed survey. So, for me as the author, the goal of this white paper is to motivate the EiC to invite me to submit the full survey manuscript.

So, my question is how to structure and what information to include in a white paper, meant as a proposal for publishing a longer survey paper. Some specific questions I'm thinking about:

  • Should I divide it into sections, similar to a regular (short) paper (introduction, discussion, etc.) or should it have some different, (specific or not) structure?
  • The reqirements mention including a "list of relevant bibliography": as this is meant to be for an survey article, my complete list of bibliography is much larger that 2 pages. Do I just mention "related work" and omit the references used as sources for the survey from this white paper, or something similar to that?
  • Should I repeat some parts of the survey, or just include the motivation and explanation of the survey topic in this white paper?

2 Answers 2


If I understand your question correctly, the longer survey paper is mostly or entirely written already, right?

The purpose of a presubmission like this is generally to help the editor decide if the topic is broad enough and well enough aligned to be of interest to a large fraction of the journal's audience.

As such, the introductory material that you've written for your survey paper should be just what is needed: it should already give the scope of the survey, the motivation for it, and an outline of how the rest of the survey is structured. I would recommend clipping out your abstract and introduction, keeping its references, maybe adding a few other key references if your introduction was reference light, and sending that in.

Finally, in your cover letter, you should say that this is exactly what you are doing. That will also let the editor know that this isn't a submission in advance of having written the manuscript, but an inquiry of whether to proceed with a fairly mature manuscript. Speaking as a sometime editor myself, that's very useful information.


White papers are a great way to get noticed. Many universities also offer them as resources for current students as a way to gain insight to popular concerns within the area of expertise.

Just look at: http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/news/publications/white-papers

You want to make sure that the white paper gives insight or focus to the main thoughts of your subject, and that proper credits are given to any of the relevant discussion within your paper. If you do decide to include the focus on your survey, that would be ok. However, discussion on what the highlights are and not giving the survey the main focus, may lead to offers to have the survey published or have you give more in depth discussion of your findings. Hope this helps.

  • 2
    Hey! Thank you for your answer, but I think the explanation you offered more describes general white paper (see the links in my question, e.g. this question), something meant for publishing. This white paper is not intended to be published (it is limited to 2 pages) -- the only motivation for it is to persuade the Editor in Chief to ask for the submission of the full manuscript of the proposed survey. Hence the quote and the link I added to my question.
    – penelope
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 8:28

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