March/April 2011

Reliable, in-depth, technical information: ISA Transactions

By R. Russell Rhinehart

ISA Transactions provides ISA members (and other subscribers) reliable, in-depth, technical articles on the science and engineering of measurement and automation from industry experts. The Internet has become a common resource people use, but ISA Transactions provides information that must pass expert review for accuracy and quality before being published. The global technical journal offers a balance of information from the best minds in academe and industry. It contains non-commercial articles targeted for those in R&D and for the advanced practitioner seeking technical details related to new developments or implementation. Articles are contributed by authors from around the world, and prior to publication, manuscript revisions are guided by three to four subject-matter experts seeking to make the articles technically accurate and useful reference tools.

ISA Transactions aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice. This balance of values requires simplicity of technique, credible demonstration, fundamental grounding, and connectivity to the state of the art in theory and practice. The intended audience is research and development personnel from academe and industry in process instrumentation, systems, and automation.

The journal is divided into two sections: "research" with a focus on developing techniques and "practice" with a focus on implementation. Articles in both sections reveal the math behind the techniques. Research articles would reveal proof of concept through simulations or bench scale applications. Practice articles would reveal pilot- or commercial-scale implementation results and discussion.

One measure of quality in a scientific journal is the "impact factor," a measure of the rate at which articles in one journal are cited by articles in other journals. For ISA Transactions, the impact factor increased for the fifth consecutive year, making the largest relative jumps in the Elsevier science/technology category for each of the past two years. There were a record number of submissions in 2010 of 264, which is a 45% increase over the number in 2009. Subscriptions also increased again, and about 7,000 articles per month were downloaded in 2009. This activity reflects sustained progress and relevance of ISA's journal of the science and engineering of measurement and automation.

The 2010 award for best paper was "Model-based monitoring and fault diagnosis of fossil power plant process units using group method of handling data"Vol. 48, No. 2, 2009, Pages 213-219, by Fan Li, Belle R. Upadhyaya, and Lonnie A. Coffey, from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Tennessee and Combustion Consultants, Knoxville, Tenn. There were 11 finalists, all with papers balancing research and practice.

Five editors manage the review process: Russ Rhinehart (Oklahoma State University), Zhiqiang Gao (Cleveland State University), Karlene Hoo (Texas Tech University), Ahmad Rad (Simon Fraser University), and Qing-Guo Wang (National University of Singapore). There are 12 members of the Editorial Advisory Board, each serving staggered three-year terms and providing input on direction and quality for ISA Transactions. In all, the editorial staff members represent 10 countries and careers from academe, practice, and national research labs.

ISA Transactions continues to play a central role within ISA initiatives to showcase the research community and to build a professional recognition for Automation Engineering as a discipline.

The topics of "measurement" include sensors, perception systems, analyzers, signal processing, filtering, data compression, data rectification, fault detection, inferential measurement, soft sensors, hardware interfacing, etc., and the techniques that support them, such as artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, communication systems, and process analysis.

The topics of automation include statistical and deterministic strategies for discrete event and continuous process control, modeling and simulation, event triggers, scheduling and sequencing, system reliability, quality, maintenance, management, loss prevention, etc., and any equipment, techniques, and best practices that support them such as optimization, learning systems, gaming strategy development, and human interfacing and training.

Access to this quarterly publication is free to all ISA members: From, link to "Publishing" (on the left), then "ISA Transactions." If you are considering publishing a scientific article, technical editorial, or tutorial, visit, link to "Publishing," then "ISA Transactions," then "Contribute."


R. Russell Rhinehart is a professor in the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University, and he has degrees from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University. Prior to starting an academic career, he worked 13 years in process and product development for Celanese, eventually supervising a team of engineers.  He is an ISA Fellow, member of the Automation Hall of Fame, VP for the American Automatic Control Council, and faculty advisor for the OSU ISA Student Section.