RA-L Information for Authors


The scope of RA-L is to publish peer-reviewed articles that provide a timely and concise account of innovative research ideas and application results, reporting significant theoretical findings and application case studies in areas of robotics and automation.

Specifically involved are the topical areas and keywords listed here.


Types of Submission


RA-L will publish manuscripts reporting on innovative ideas and results that need to be rapidly published in a concise form.

Letters are six pages long in two-column IEEE format (see below for details), including figures and references, with up to two extra pages. Links to multimedia material – videos, data repositories, code sources etc. – are welcome.

RA-L is an electronic-only, hybrid open-access journal. The final version provided by the authors will be rapidly posted on IEEE XPlore, and will be replaced by an edited, XML tagged version soon after. Submission of Letters to RA-L is open throughout the year.

Submitted manuscripts will be either published within six months from reception or rejected.

Letters with Conference Option:

Authors of manuscripts submitted to RA-L who also wish to present the same results at one of selected RAS-sponsored conferences will be offered this option during a definite time window. 

Manuscripts submitted to RA-L with Conference option will undergo a regular RA-L review. Results of the first review round by the LEB will also be used by the Conference Senior Program Committee (SPC), which will decide the program of the Conference. The final decision on publication on RA-L and presentation at the Conference are completely independent.

A manuscript accepted for RA-L and included in the Conference program will appear on IEEE Xplore as a Letter in RA-L, while only an abstract (non-citable) will be included in the Conference Proceedings on Xplore.

A manuscript submitted to RA-L with Conference option, accepted for presentation at the Conference but rejected for RA-L, will appear in the Conference Proceedings on Xplore.

A manuscript submitted to RA-L with Conference option, not accepted for presentation at Conference, but accepted in RA-L, will be published in RA-L on Xplore.

All manuscripts presented at the Conference will be available to attendants through the USB thumb-drive in the Conference Kit


Conference Best Paper Awards

 All RA-L submissions with Conference option will be considered for Conference awards.

The Conference Best Student Paper Award requires self-nomination, to allow the Conference Program Committee know which papers are eligible for this specific award. To allow self-nominations for RAL papers with ICRA option,  a form is available at

Recall that you may only request consideration for the Best Student Paper Award if the paper meets the following criteria:
(1) The paper must be mostly written by the student, and the student must be the first author. The advisor and/or others can be co-authors.
(2) At the time of submission of your RA-L paper, the first author must have been a registered student.
(3) The student will present the paper at the Conference.


Submitting a previously published Conference paper and the “evolutionary paradigm”

The RA-Letters will not consider submissions that are currently under review for a conference (except under the Conference Option scheme).

In principle, RA-L may consider submissions that have been published in the Proceedings of an IEEE conference, provided that the manuscript follow the “evolutionary paradigm” of IEEE, i.e., if it incorporates substantial improvements and it openly discloses the source(s) and discusses the changes. However, because the length of a Letter is comparable to that of most Conference papers and RA-L are intended to publish novel results rapidly and concisely, application of such “evolutionary paradigm” to Letters is difficult.

Submission to Transactions of an evolved version of a previous conference paper is instead considered natural.

Notice that the “evolutionary paradigm” does not apply between Letters and Transactions, because they are both archival Journal publications. 


Review Procedure

After the first submission of their manuscript, authors will be notified of reception and of the Editor of RA-L who will supervise the review. Authors will receive the first decision, along with review comments, within three months from submission.

The first decision is of three types only: Accept for Publication, Reject, or Revise and Resubmit.

If the first decision is Accept for Publication, authors are required to submit the caera-ready version of their paper within two

If the first decision is Revise and Resubmit, authors can resubmit a revised version along with a Statement of Changes letter indicating how comments by the Editor and by reviewers have been addressed. It is encouraged that the revised version highlights the parts of the text that have been added or modified, so as to make it easier for reviewers to see how their comments were addressed. The revision has to be resubmitted within one month from reception of the first review. Failure to meet this deadline means the paper will be automatically moved to the Reject category: unfortunately, the tight timeline of the Letters will allow no extensions or exceptions to this rule.

Authors will receive a second and final decision within 5 months from initial submissions. Final decisions are only of two types, Accept for Publication or Reject.

If the final decision is Accept for Publication, authors are required to submit the camera-ready version of their paper within two weeks.
The Editor verifies that the final version of an Accepted paper satisfies all conditions indicated in the Acceptance letter. The Editor can withhold publication until all required changes are satisfactorily made. In case this is not achieved by authors within 180 days from submission, which is the time limit for publication of Letters, the paper could be effectively withdrawn from publication. 

Upon receipt of the final version of the paper from the authors, and provided that all formatting and style requirements are met, the camera-ready PDF file will appear as a Rapid Posting preprint on Xplore.  Rapid Posting preprints are citable papers and have a DOI. 

Any paper submitted to RA-L Xplore in six months, or be rejected.

Shortly after Rapid Posting preprint appearance, a moderately edited and XML tagged version will be prepared by IEEE, submitted as galley proofs to the Authors, and eventually published in replacement of the preprint.

IEEE Policy Regarding Intellectual Property Protection

IEEE takes the protection of intellectual property seriously. Accordingly, all submissions will be screened for plagiarism using iThenticate CrossCheck software. By submitting your work you agree to allow IEEE to screen your work. For more information please visit: http://www.crossref.org/crosscheck/index.html

Manuscript Preparation

Page Length

Letters will be six pages long, with at most two extra pages allowed at a charge ($175 per extra page).  These page limits include everything needed for publication, e.g., figures and tables.

Paper Format 

All manuscripts should be submitted in the double column format of the IEEE style file. Instructions and templates (LaTeX or Word) are downloadable from the IEEE "Article Preparation and Submission" section of the IEEE Author Digital Toolbox, together with other useful tools for authors.

For compatibility reasons, the first submission to the Letters will be formatted as a RAS conference manuscript. The final version of an accepted Letter however will have the same editorial style of other RAS journals.

 Initial Submission

If you use LaTeX for preparing a Letter, please download the following files for document preparation

• The zipped file pack ieeeconf.zip. This contains the LaTeX class file ieeeconf.cls, a sample LaTeX source file root.tex and the compiled document root.pdf.

• BiBTeX files IEEEtranBST.zip

• Guide to use ieeeconf.cls (based on IEEEtrans.cls) IEEEtran_HOWTO.pdf

The document should be configured for US Letter paper, using the line
\documentclass[letterpaper, 10 pt, conference]{ieeeconf}

If you use MSWord for preparing a Letter, please download the following files for document preparation

• MS Word template ieeeconf_letter.dot for US Letter paper

• Sample Documents ieeeconf_letter.doc and sample_A4.doc

When using the IEEE style format, the first (title) page will contain the paper title and each author's name, affiliation, and full address (mailing address, email address, and fax number), with the corresponding author clearly indicated, the abstract (no more than 200 words), the keywords (index terms), and the beginning of the main text of the paper. Do not use a cover page.

If a revised version will be resubmitted for a second review, the same format as the initial submission will be used.

 Final Submission

Upon acceptance of the manuscript as a R&A Letter, the author is requested to reformat the paper to prepare a camera-ready version to immediately appear as a preprint on Xplore, while the XML-tagged and copy edited version that will eventually be archived is being prepared by IEEE offices.

If you use LaTeX, please download the zipped file pack IEEEtran.zip which contains the LaTeX class file ieeetran.cls

The document should be configured for US Letter paper, using the line
\documentclass[letterpaper, 10 pt, journal, twoside]{ieeetran}
% Use this command for final RAL version

In your preamble, please comment the command
% Comment this command for final RAL version.
% Use this command for initial and revised RAL versions, and for final conference version

Also, if you have these legacy commands, please remove them
% \pagestyle{empty}
% \thispagestyle{empty}
% Comment or remove these lines for final RAL version.

Please add the following lines, customizing the underline italics fields as necessary:
% Paper headers
\markboth{IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. Preprint Version. Accepted Month, Year}
{FirstAuthorSurname \MakeLowercase{\textit{et al.}}: ShortTitle} 
% Use only for final RAL version

% Make room for more info lines in the \author command 
\author{First Author$^{1}$, Second Author$^{2}$, and Third Author$^{1}$%
\thanks{Manuscript received: Month, Day, Year; Revised Month, Day, Year; Accepted Month, Day, Year.}%Use only for final RAL version
\thanks{This paper was recommended for publication by Editor Editor name upon evaluation of the Associate Editor and Reviewers' comments. *Here you can knowledge the organizations/grants which supported the work}%Use only for final RAL version
\thanks{$^{1}$First Author and Third Author are with School of Engineering, Robotics Department,
        University of Somewhere, Someland
        {\tt\small This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.}}%
\thanks{$^{2} $SecondAuthor is with School of Engineering, Automation Department,
        University of Anywhere, Anyland
        {\tt\small This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.}}%
\thanks{Digital Object Identifier (DOI): see top of this page.}
%Use only for final RAL version.

In your title line remove any format, e.g. replace  \title{\LARGE\bf My Paper Title} with  
\title{My Paper Title} %Use for final RAL version

In your text, make sure to put at least two and up to five  RAL keywords just beneath the abstract
% Keywords appear just beneath the abstract. Use only for final RAL version. 
List of keywords (from the RA Letters keyword list)

and modify the first word of the Introduction to have the nice initial drop letter
% Drop letter for first word of the Introduction
% Here we have the typical use of a "T" for an initial drop letter
% and "HIS" in caps to complete the first word.
\IEEEPARstart{T}{his} is the first sentence of my Introduction. % Use only for final RAL version

If you use MSWord for preparing the final version of a Letter, you will have to reformat your first submission according to the IEEE Journal template available here. 
Please add or modify as the template as follows, customizing the underline italics fields as necessary:
1) Use this line  as header of first and all even pages:
and use this line  as header of all odd pages excluding first:

2) The footnote on first page should read as:
Manuscript received: Month, Day, Year; Revised Month, Day, Year; Accepted
Month, Day, Year.
This paper was recommended for publication by Editor Editor name upon
evaluation of the Associate Editor and Reviewers’ comments. This work is
supported by (organizations/grants which supported the work.)
1 First Author and Third Author are with School of Engineering, Robotics Department,
        University of Somewhere, Someland This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
2 SecondAuthor is with School of Engineering, Automation Department,
        University of Anywhere, Anyland secondThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) : see top of this page.

In your text, make sure to put at least two and up to five  RAL keywords just beneath the abstract  

 NB: RA Letters do not include biographical sketches nor photographs of authors.

Figures, Tables, and References 

In all submissions, all figures and tables must be numbered and cited in the text. References must be in a separate reference section at the end of the paper, with items referred to by numerals in square brackets. References must be completed in IEEE style as follows:

  • Author(s), first initials followed by last name, title in quotation marks, periodical, volume, inclusive page numbers, month and year.
  • Books: Author(s), first initials followed by last name, title, location, publisher, year, chapter, page numbers.

Keywords Selection 

A list of significant keywords (also named index terms) must be associated with each submitted paper. Select a minimum of 2 up to a maximum of 5 (recommended) keywords during one of the submission steps at the RA-L Papercept site ras.papercept.net/journals/ral.  The first two keywords must be chosen from those predefined within the RA-L set. Additional keywords can be selected from the same list.  You can also type in freely at most 2 keywords, up to a total of 5. The current list of predefined RA-L keywords can be downloaded here.

PDF File Testing 

As you have noticed in the instructions above, the format of papers for initial and final submissions to RAL are different.  The initial submission is in IEEE conference format and must rigidly respect the margins that are enforced by the paperplaza submission system.  The final submission of an accepted paper instead has the style and look of an IEEE Journal.

For technical reasons, the submission of the final version of yor manuscript might receive warnings from the PDF file test in Paperplaza. These warnings can be safely disregarded, once you have ensured that the IEEE journal settings have been used. 

Sometimes, PDF files generated with software or operative systems of Far East countries may have a font embedding problem with Chinese/Japanese/Korean fonts. This prevents the paper to be shown on screen or printed correctly with standard Western system configurations. We cannot expect that all reviewers are equipped with software extensions to work properly with such PDF files, slowing down the review process. Therefore, authors should carefully generate their PDF files and are urged to check them before submission by using the web facility accessible at the RA-L PaperCept site ras.papercept.net/journals/ral. The minimum version of acceptable PDF is currently 1.4.

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) Author Names 

IEEE supports the publication of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) author names in the native language alongside the English versions of the names in the author list of an article. For more information, please visit the IEEE Author Digital Tool Box.


All pertinent correspondence relating to publications should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For technical issues regarding manuscript submission, please contact Paperplaza at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Multimedia Materials

RA-L considers also multimedia attachments for material accompanying the submission of a paper. Multimedia materials can include
• videos
• dataset files (e.g., raw data with programs to manipulate them)
• source code
• readme and instruction files

Multimedia material is intended to enrich the contents of a paper, both in clarity and in added value. IEEE has set up general guidelines for the submission of multimedia, ranging from the format, to the description of content and of user requirements, and to the way this material should be referenced to in the body of the paper. This information is available in the "Multimedia Materials" section of the IEEE "Author Digital Tool Box" through this link. In preparing multimedia material, it is recommended to follow the general IEEE guidelines right from the initial submission. In addition, specific guidelines hold for the Robotics and Automation Letters:

• The paper should be self-contained, i.e., fully readable and understandable independently from the multimedia material;

• Videos should be prepared allowing portability under various platforms.
o Duration: 1-5 minutes;
o Size: less than 50 Mb;
o Structure: Video must describe title, authors and affiliations at the beginning and credits at the end.
o Accompanying voice should be in good English
o Format: mpeg, mpg, or mp4;
o Codecs: only standard codecs allowed;
o A video that does not play on a standard platform can be summarily rejected.

• A "ReadMe.txt" file (in ASCII text format) should accompany the multimedia material describing:
o Minimum requirements for the user. In particular, provide the version of the software that is required to play/run the submitted files. Include the name of the software, the version number, and any special requirements for the player;
o Contact Information. The author should provide contact information in case users have questions regarding the multimedia material (IEEE will not provide any technical support for this);

• A "Summary.txt" file (in ASCII text format) succinctly describing the contents, usage and value of all multimedia objects.

Authors submit their multimedia material as a single zipped archive file (max 50 MB) during paper submission at the RA-L Papercept site ras.papercept.net/journals/ral. Authors of a RA-L submission with Conference option will also be able to separately upload a 10Mb max. MPEG video.

The multimedia material will be reviewed together with the submitted paper. Once a paper and its associated multimedia material is accepted, the latter will be available in the RA-L page within IEEE Xplore, side-by-side to the PDF of the paper. For RA-L papers with Conference option which are accepted for presentation at the Conference, a copy of the 10 Mb max. MPEG video will be included in the USB pen distributed at the conference along with the paper PDF file.

Copyright and E-Copyright Form

It is the policy of the IEEE to own the copyright to the technical contributions it publishes on behalf of the interests of the IEEE, its authors, and their employers, and to facilitate the appropriate reuse of this material by others. To comply with U.S. copyright law, authors are required to sign an IEEE copyright transfer form with the final manuscript. For your information, this form is available here. It returns to authors and their employers full rights to reuse their material for their own purposes. Authors of accepted manuscripts should fill the electronic copyright transfer form (E-Copyright) at the time of final submission of the material for publication.

Open Access

RA-L policies on Open-Access publishing are the same as general IEEE policies.  The majority of all IEEE transactions, journals, and letters offer a hybrid option, which permits both traditional subscription-based content as well as open access, author-pays content.  For all hybrid journals, the quality of the review process for OA and traditional articles is the same. Any open access papers published within a hybrid journal will be included in all media types offered by that title.

Authors using government research funding or university consortium funding may be required to publish in OA journals. In addition, authors may choose to pay to publish to gain the largest possible audience for their innovative practical, applied and theoretical research.

Letters will allow open-access for those authors who require it and who support publishing costs directly. Any communication regarding the Open Access choice will only be entertained after the final decision about publication, which is totally unaffected. The peer-review process is indifferent to articles being Open-Access or not.  Reviewers will not know if an article is OA or not. Authors’ commitment to OA is only made after acceptance.

The open access article processing charge (APC) for this publication is USD $1950 for all articles accepted on or after 1 January 2017.
Other applicable fees (e.g. over-length paper charges) remain unchanged.


All IEEE journals require an Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) for all authors.  ORCIDs enable accurate attribution and improved discoverability of an author’s published work.  The author will need a registered ORCID in order to submit a manuscript or review a proof in this journal.

Follow these steps to link a PaperCept account to a registered ORCID.  Note that PINs from different sub-domains can be linked to a single ORCID.

1.       Go to the start page of the PaperCept subdomain where you have an existing PIN (if you do not have one, please create one by following the PIN link from the PaperCept subdomain of interest).

2.       If you do not already have an ORCID, follow the link “Register an ORCID,” create an ORCID and return to the PaperCept login page.

3.       Follow the link “Register your ORCID with any of your PaperCept PINs,” enter your registered email or the ORCID and password and then click on Authorize.

4.       Once you authorize the ORCID to be linked to your PIN you will be returned to the PaperCept subdomain from where you accessed ORCID.

5.       Follow “Log in to any account associated with this ORCID” to complete associating your PIN to the ORCID.

6.       If you have inadvertently created multiple PINs in the same subdomain, you can associate all PINs with the same ORCID.

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