2009 APL General Editorial Policies Archive
Applied Physics Letters (APL) is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). The Editor, aided by the Associate Editors and the Editorial Board, is responsible for the content and other editorial matters related to the Journal. Submitted manuscripts are initially screened for their suitability by our Reviewing Editors in the Editorial Office, and those that appear appropriate for publication in APL are sent to an expert referee for evaluation, and may be sent to another referee for a second review. It is our intention to reach a decision on the disposition of a paper on the basis of no more than two rounds of reviewing. Only for exceptional situations will an additional review be undertaken. Such extended reviews are time-consuming, and should not be used as a mechanism to change an otherwise unacceptable manuscript into an acceptable publication.
An author may appeal an editor's decision to reject a manuscript by making a request to the editor that the case be reviewed by the Executive Director of AIP. The Executive Director will not make direct decisions whether or not a paper should be accepted for publication, but rather will assess whether procedures were followed properly. Additional rounds of review or adjudication would only be called for if proper procedures were not followed.
Papers are accepted for publication in APL according to the following criteria:
Content: The mission of APL is to offer prompt publication of short experimental and theoretical reports on significant findings in applied physics. To be acceptable for publication in APL, the submission should be original and interesting to the Applied Physics community, and contain sufficient physics, as opposed to mere recipes or fabrication. Papers that do not have a strong component of applied physics will be returned to the authors.
Novelty: Emphasizing rapid dissemination of key data and new physical insights, APL only publishes papers containing new results that have not been submitted elsewhere. With rapid growth in journal size, we are no longer able to consider for publication every submission that is merely free from error. We aim at publishing papers that represent substantial advancement of established knowledge or that report significant novel development in applied physics. Manuscripts that, in the reviewers' or editors' opinion, fall short of this standard will not be accepted. Particular requirements have been established for papers that focus on device proposals and materials preparations.
- * Device proposals: A number of manuscripts submitted to APL concern proposed devices that have not yet been constructed. Our policy is to consider such submissions only if one or more of the three following criteria apply: (i) it contains sufficient novel theory to qualify as a theoretical paper, (ii) sample experimental data by the author are included to demonstrate that the idea is feasible, and (iii) the idea is of such novelty and potential importance that (i) and (ii) can be waived.
- * Materials preparations: Our criterion for considering manuscripts in the area of materials preparation, including thin-film synthesis and processing, is that the paper contains more than one of the following features: (i) new or unique methods in preparation of materials/films, and/or (ii) novel, unusual, or excellent properties, and (iii) physics, not merely recipes. Although recipes can be helpful to the community, there are other places to publish them, including conference proceedings.
We discourage use of words like "new" and "novel" because of their redundancy. In fact, if the findings are not new or novel, they should not be submitted to APL. Other trivial priority claims, such as "for the first time," should also be eliminated. Similarly, the escape clause "to our knowledge" should be avoided, because the reader has no idea of how diligently and competently the writer has searched for prior work in the field.
Timeliness: One of the questions on the reviewer's checklist is: "Is the paper especially important, interesting, and timely enough to warrant rapid publication in Applied Physics Letters?" A fraction of papers, which report new results but in a mature field, do not fulfill the condition of timeliness required by APL, and should be submitted for consideration as a Communication elsewhere.
Serial Submissions: Publication of ongoing work in a series of papers should be avoided. We believe that, while there is a need for rapid communication of important results, the literature becomes fractured and less accessible when serial publication of specialized advances becomes the norm. Serial submissions designed solely to meet the length requirement are not suitable for publication in APL. Instead, the authors should report their results in a full-length paper for submission to a regular journal. The scientific community will be better served by a comprehensive paper than by several separate Letters.
Readability: Manuscripts must be written in correct American English. This is the responsibility of the authors, not the editors. Papers that are judged to be below the standards for APL will be returned to the authors for rewriting.
Length: Applied Physics Letters has a firm policy of rejecting manuscripts which exceed the absolute upper limit of three journal pages. If a manuscript requires more than three pages, it is not a Letter, and should be submitted to a regular journal. Only rough estimates of finished length are made in the Editorial Office. If a manuscript is obviously too long, it will be returned to the author for shortening. However, some fraction of marginal cases may pass all editorial hurdles, reach the composition stage at AIP, and are then found to be too long. They are removed from the scheduled issue and returned to the author. The author's institution may be billed for the extra work in recomposing the shortened manuscript, and there is a waste of time and effort as well as a publication delay of about one month. Guidelines for estimating length are included in the Information for Contributors.
Format: Information for Contributors is published in the first issue of every volume, twice a year, and is also posted on the Journal's website. Rapid changes in publication technology require that authors follow the instructions for preparation of figures with particular care (for detailed information, see
Bylines: It is the responsibility of the person submitting the paper to ensure that all authors approve the inclusion of their names on the byline. In addition, whenever the name of a co-author is removed from, or added to, the byline of a paper after the date of submission, we must have a signed concurrence of that co-author before publication.
Copyright: Applied Physics Letters requests a signed copyright-transfer form, assigning the copyright to the American Institute of Physics, to be included with each submission. It is a tradition of long standing that submission to APL implies that the work has neither been copyrighted, classified, published, nor being considered for publication elsewhere. Since this form is required before publication, supplying it initially can prevent unnecessary delays. The copyright-transfer form and other publication-related forms can be found here.
Patents: Submission of manuscripts that contain patentable ideas is at the author's risk, and neither APL nor the American Institute of Physics assumes any responsibility in this regard.
Although our text pages are reserved for reports on original research, from time to time APL also publishes a section of short Comments and Responses. The following rules apply:
1. The main purpose of the Comment is to point out and correct significant errors or deficiencies in APL articles or to take issue with the conclusions reached. Another purpose is to inject additional insight or corroboration even when the article is not believed to contain an error. We would like Comments to be concise, substantive, and free of polemics. They are meant to address scientific issues only. We wish to avoid controversy on all questions of priority; the scientific community at large derives insufficient benefits from such comments. In addition, calling attention to an oversight in a reference list will generally not be considered publishable.
2. The Comment should take up not more than one journal page, roughly 1000 words. The title should read: Comment on "original title" [APL volume, page (year)]. Reference lists, tables, figures, and figure captions must all be considered when estimating page length.
3. A Response to the Comment will normally be solicited from the authors of the Letter in question. Just as the Comment, the Response must also conform to the above requirements, and can only contain 1000 words or less. The title of the response should read: Response to 'Comment on "original title"' [APL volume, page (year)]. Both Comment and Response will be reviewed by an anonymous referee. If the Comment is rejected, neither will be published. If the Response alone is rejected, the Comment will be published without the Response. No further exchange beyond this point can be considered for publication. If both are accepted, the Comment and the Response will appear in the same issue. As these processes can be time consuming, we cannot guarantee as rapid a publication schedule as we maintain for regular submissions.
4. Since a Comment is published only if it is informative to the readership and if the same result cannot be achieved either by an Erratum, Addendum, or by a separate article in another journal, authors of a Comment are encouraged to first contact the authors of the Letter in question for a direct response before submitting their Comment to APL. However, the Editor does not require such a step.
(Revised December 2007)