Editorial Policies

Focus and Scope

Ledger was launched in 2015 to address the growing need for a traditional academic journal dedicated to cryptocurrency research. Ledger aims to encourage greater involvement by academics in cryptocurrency and foster a culture of rigorous analysis and peer-review within the Bitcoin community. It also aims to spur the aggregation and filtering of important content generated across relevant communication channels. The journal strives to serve both the general public and the Bitcoin research community through the dissemination of high-quality and timely scholarly content. Ledger is published in an open-access format by the University of Pittsburgh.

Ledger publishes full-length articles describing original research in all areas related to cryptocurrency and its intersection with mathematics, computer science, engineering, law and economics. Manuscripts are selected on the basis of conceptual advancement, novelty, technical quality, and general interest to the journal’s audience. Submissions of articles related to all areas of cryptocurrency research are welcome, including (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Development of new cryptocurrency computer algorithms/protocols
  • Analysis of existing cryptocurrency algorithms/protocols
  • New cryptographic methods for cryptocurrencies
  • Network analysis of transactions on public ledgers
  • Macroeconomic studies of cryptocurrencies
  • Computer hardware design of new components
  • Novel applications of cryptocurrencies 
  • Legal commentary on cryptocurrency uses
  • Finance and the effect of decentralized ledgers on markets
  • Analysis of proposed changes to the Bitcoin protocol

Ledger also publishes review articles (both invited and unsolicited), perspective pieces, and formal correspondence. The journal does not charge author fees.

In an effort to foster transparency, a transcript of the peer-review process will be published alongside accepted articles. This transcript will include all the correspondence relevant to the processing of the manuscript by the journal, including referee reports, author responses and editor comments. Prior to publication of an article, journal staff will embed the hash of the final manuscript within the Blockchain, and authors will be encouraged to sign this hash.  

 

Section Policies

Research Articles

Manuscripts describing original research related to cryptocurrency and its intersection with mathematics, computer science, economics and law. Research articles should be no longer than 4000 words in length, and are assessed based on conceptual advancement, novelty, relevance, and technical quality.

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Reviews

Review articles aggregating all of the relevant and latest research on a particular subject related to cryptocurrency. Reviews should be limited to 6000 words, although longer articles will be considered. It is suggested that potential authors of review papers contact the journal staff to gauge the suitability of the topic for publication.

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Perspectives

Commissioned short commentaries summarizing recent literature in the field and discussing the broader implications in an easy-to-digest manner.

Unchecked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed

Correspondence

Comments and criticisms on articles published in Ledger.

Checked Open Submissions Unchecked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed
 

Peer Review Process

At Ledger, we strive to have a quick, open, and transparent peer review process, as we feel these these things are a benefit to the academic community at large. To that end, our process involves the following features:

Published Peer Reviews

All reviews of published submissions are published alongside the articles they helped to shape. If a paper is rejected, the authors may publish the reviews at their discretion. In this way, reviews serve to lead public discussion, and thus reviewer attention—a precious resource—is conserved.

Waivered Single-Blind Process

While reviewers of submissions will by default be anonymized, reviewers may request to waive that anonymity in the name of transparency and public discussion.

No Confidential Reviewer Recommendations

Once a submission has been selected for peer review, no recommendations made by reviewers will be withheld from the author.

Cross-Reviewer Commentary

In the case of multiple-stage revisions, reviewers are sent all previous-round reviews, and are encouraged to comment where they deem appropriate.

Author Reviewer Recommendations

As part of the submission process, we accept an author's suggestions for potential reviewers who are likely to understand the author's work, and respect reasonable requests for reviewer exclusions.

Eight-Week Turnaround

We target a eight-week turnaround time from the point of initial submission to the return of a submission with first-round reviews, though times may be shorter or longer. If a submission is not selected for peer review, that time will be considerably shorter. If finding a number of appropriate reviewers is a challenge—which is sometimes the case in a new field of study—the time may be marginally longer. In the latter case, editors will contact the author to apprise them of the situation.

 

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content. Our publisher, the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, abides by the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition of Open Access:

“By “open access” to [peer-reviewed research literature], we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

Researchers engage in discovery for the public good, yet because of cost barriers or use restrictions imposed by other publishers, research results are not available to the full community of potential users. It is our mission to support a greater global exchange of knowledge by making the research published in this journal open to the public and reusable under the terms of a Creative Commons CC-BY license.

Furthermore, we encourage authors to post their pre-publication manuscript in institutional repositories or on their Web sites prior to and during the submission process, and to post the Publisher’s final formatted PDF version after publication. These practices benefit authors with productive exchanges as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.

There are no article processing charges, submissions fees, or any other costs required of authors to submit articles to this journal.

 

Archiving

This journal utilizes the LOCKSS system to create a distributed archiving system among participating libraries and permits those libraries to create permanent archives of the journal for purposes of preservation and restoration. More...

 

Other Policies

Digital signatures and blockchain time stamps

In an effort to promote the use of digital signatures and blockchain technology, the Corresponding Author is strongly encouraged to sign the file hash of the final version of their manuscript (here is a suitable tool for doing so).  This signature implies that each author has seen and approved the paper’s content, and is aware of the responsibilities connected with authorship.  Authors are encouraged to associate a Bitcoin address (or PGP public key) with their identity.  The bitcoin address for the Corresponding Author should be included on the first page of the manuscript.  Prior to publication, a member of the journal’s staff will verify the digital signatures and then timestamp the file’s hash in the Bitcoin blockchain, thereby generating irrevocable proof that the manuscript existed on this date. 

Anonymous authorship

Under extenuating circumstances, the journal may permit authors to publish under a pseudonym.  Authors should include a statement describing why they wish to remain anonymous at the time of article submission.  Only manuscripts where quality can be judged exclusively from the content presented in the paper, and where the scope of any conflict of interest problems would be limited (should they exist), will be considered for anonymous authorship.   

Availability of published material and data

As a condition for publishing in Ledger, authors agree to make all material necessary to evaluate the findings of the paper freely available to readers (e.g., raw data, source code, etc.).  Authors are encouraged to upload relevant data to a public repository and provide appropriate links. 

Conflicts of interest

The journal requires that a statement be included in each submitted article describing any potential conflict of interests (e.g., a related commercial interest).  This statement becomes part of the file hash that is signed by the Corresponding Author.  Although assessing whether a conflict of interest exists can be difficult, as a guideline consider whether it would be embarrassing should the potential conflict become publicly known.  

Scientific integrity

The editorial staff at Ledger is committed to maintaining a high standard of integrity and rigor in its published content.  Suspected cases of scientific fraud, data fabrication, substantial copying of unreferenced text, or the misappropriation of another’s ideas will be investigated.  Pending the results of such investigations, the authors may be asked to retract their articles, or a retraction may be imposed upon them.

Refutations of articles published in Ledger (e.g., challenges to the accuracy of the content or of the validity of its interpretation) are suitable for publication as a Correspondence.  Authors of the original work will be given the opportunity to respond side-by-side. 

Citation and Originality

Ledger will only publish original work that has not been previously published.  Exception is given to self-published articles (e.g., those posted to pre-print servers), or articles that cohesively amalgamate work informally posted online by the author. 

In all cases, accurate and thorough citations of all non-original content must be included, and care must be taken to cite the original source whenever possible.  It is also important, given cryptocurrency’s roots as a largely informal online community, to seek out and identify any contributions from non-traditional sources such as web forums and IRC channels. 

Authors should refer to the Author Guidelines for examples of the citation format for each type of source material. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Ledger publish work that has been previously published as conference proceedings?  What about pre-print servers (e.g., arXiv)?

The journal will consider for publication papers that have been self-published or uploaded to pre-print servers (e.g., arXiv, SSRN, or Crypto ePrint), and articles that represent the amalgamation of work previously posted on cryptocurrency web forums, IRC channels or blogs.  Expanded versions of papers originally published as conference proceedings will be considered, provided 30% of the content is original. 

Does the Journal permit anonymous authorship?

Under extenuating circumstances, the journal may permit authors to publish under a pseudonym.  Authors should include a statement describing why they wish to remain anonymous at the time of article submission.  Only manuscripts where quality can be judged exclusively from the content presented in the paper, and where the scope of any conflict of interest problems would be limited (should they exist), will be considered for anonymous authorship.  

Does the Journal have a quota on the maximum number of papers that will be publish per issue?

Ledger will work to ensure publication of all manuscripts that meet the quality criteria for the journal and represent a novel and meaningul advancement to the field of cryptocurrency and blockchain research.  However, as staff resources are limited, the processing of manuscripts may be postponed during periods of high submission volumes.  

What systems have been put in place to help maintain objectivity for the editorial staff?

Ledger publishes a peer-review transcipt that includes all the correspondence relevant to the processing of the manuscript, including referee reports, author responses and editor comments.

What is the Journal’s policy on citations to non-traditional sources (e.g., forum posts)?

Accurate and thorough citations of all non-original content must be included.  Given Bitcoin’s roots as a largely informal online community, it is important for authors to seek out and identify any contributions from non-traditional sources such as web forums and IRC channels and attribute them accordingly.  

What is the Journal's view on the problem of "advertisements masquerading as white papers" in the cryptocurrency field?

The Journal's management recognizes this as an obstable to the pursuit of knowledge in cryptocurrency.  It is this problem that the peer-review process, and its ability to extract the genuine inquiry, is intended to solve.  The output of the Journal should be high-quality crytpocurrency reseach that is generally accepted as accurate and important by experts in the field. 

How long does the peer-review process take?

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are a rapidly evolving fields.  Ledger aims to faciliate the timely dissemmination of high-quality peer-reviewed research to the Bitcoin community.  The editorial staff is committed to ensuring reviews are conducted in an efficient and timely manner.  

Ledger aims to have the first round of reviews complete a returned to the author within six weeks.  Papers that require only trivial changes could then move from submission to acceptance within a six-week period.  In most cases, more extensive revisions and additional rounds of peer review will be required. The target review time for each round is six weeks.  

Is there a limit to the number of rounds of peer review?

No.  However, the editorial staff reserve the right to reject a manuscript if an overly-lengthly review process is anticipated (e.g., during times of high submisison volume). 

Does the Journal publish research on alt-coins?

Ledger publishes orginal research that represents an advancement of knowledge in the field of cryptocurrency.  It is irrelevant from the Journal's perspective whether the advancement was made in relation to Bitcoin, in relation to an alt-coin, or in some other way.  

Who controls the key or keys to Ledger's donation address?

Ledger's donations address is a 2-of-3 multisig wallet with one private key held by each of the two Managing Editors and one key held by an Editor.

How can I check the Blockchain time stamp (proof-of-existence) for an article?

Simply download the PDF of the article to your computer, open proofofexistence.com and select the downloaded file.  The website should return the date stamp for when the hash of the file was included in the Blockchain.  

Where can I find the author's digital signature?

The author's digital signature of the PDF manuscript (if available) can be found by following the "supplementary files" link in the "Article Tools" menu to the far right when viewing the paper on the Journal's website:

The signature can be verified using the SimpleSign tool

What is the format used for a Ledger digital signature and do I have to use the SimpleSign tool?

It corresponds to a Bitcoin-signed message of the PDF's hash.  For example, the SHA256 hash of the Bitcoin white paper is b1674191a88ec5cdd733e4240a81803105dc412d6c6708d53ab94fc248f4f553.  To sign this document, the author would produce a Bitcoin-signed message of this HEX-encoded text string.  This can be done automatically using the SimpleSign tool, or by signing this text string in one's wallet. 

Can I audit Ledger's SimpleSign tool for digitally signing PDF files?

Yes, it is available at github.com/LedgerJournal/SimpleSign.