Editorial Policies and Practices
Physical Review B is published by the American Physical Society, whose Council has the final responsibility for the journal. The APS Publications Oversight Committee and the Editor in Chief possess delegated responsibility for overall policy matters concerning all APS journals. The editors of Physical Review B are responsible for the scientific content and other editorial matters relating to the journal.
"It is the policy of the American Physical Society that the Physical Review accept for publication those manuscripts that significantly advance physics and have been found to be scientifically sound, important to the field, and in satisfactory form. The Society will implement this policy as fairly and efficiently as possible and without regard to national boundaries."
Physical Review B has an Editorial Board whose members are appointed for three-year terms upon recommendation of the editors, after consultation with the APS Divisions of Condensed Matter and of Materials Physics. Board members play an important role in the editorial management of the journal. They advise on specific papers where special assistance is called for, and participate in the formal appeal process.
If a manuscript submitted to Physical Review B is on a topic not within its purview, but may be suitable for another Physical Review journal, the editors may transfer the paper to the appropriate journal and inform the author(s) of that transfer.
Confirmation of previously published results of unusual importance can be considered as new, as can significant null results. Papers advancing new theoretical views on fundamental principles or theories must contain convincing arguments that the new predictions and interpretations are distinguishable from existing knowledge, at least in principle, and do not contradict established experimental results. Mathematical and computational papers that do not have a clear relationship to physics are generally not suitable for Physical Review B. In general, authors should keep review material to a minimum. Some review and reprise of past work is acceptable if the paper can be made more understandable and self-contained thereby.
Material previously published in an abbreviated form (in a Letters journal, as a Rapid Communication, or in a conference proceedings) may provide a useful basis for a more detailed article in the Physical Review. Such an article should present considerably more information and lead to a substantially improved understanding of the subject. Reproduction of figures, tables, and text material that have been published previously should be kept to a minimum and must be properly referenced. In order to reproduce figures, tables, etc., from another journal, authors must show that they have complied with the copyright/licensing requirements of the publisher of the other journal. Publication of material in a thesis does not preclude publication of appropriate parts of that material in the Physical Review.
Publication of ongoing work in a series of papers should be avoided. Instead, a single comprehensive article should be published. This policy against serial publication applies to Rapid Communications and regular articles.
Although there is no limit to the length of regular articles, the appropriate length depends on the information presented in the paper. Authors may refer in their paper to their own internal reports or theses that contain more detail than the published article or they may deposit some of the material, especially long tables, as Supplemental Material. This can accommodate multimedia. Information about Supplemental Material is available via the Supplemental Material links on the Information for Authors subpage at http://prb.aps.org/author-information/, in the Authors, General Information section.
New terminology should be introduced only when clearly needed. Excessive use of acronyms should be avoided. The proliferation of specialized jargon can serve to inhibit communication. New terminology should be appropriate and, if possible, convey to the reader an accurate impression of its meaning. It should not be frivolous, hard to pronounce, or based on a private joke. New terminology should not be introduced in titles. Justification for the introduction of new terminology should be provided on submission of the paper.
Readers benefit from complete referencing, which is necessary to place any work in the context of the current state of research. Authors should therefore make every effort to ensure that their citations of previously published work are comprehensive at the time of submission. This includes references to books and to published conference proceedings that contain more than abstracts. Authors should also add to the references any works published during the course of the review process.
It may also be necessary for authors to cite unpublished work, such as e-prints, preprints, internal reports, or results which have been reported only orally at meetings (even though an abstract may have been published). Unpublished work that appears during the review process may require citation as well. Unpublished work has not been fully vetted by the community, and considerable judgment on the part of the editors will be employed in determining the need to cite such work.
Papers that describe proposed experiments fall into a special category. For such papers to be acceptable, the experiments must be demonstrated to be novel and feasible. It is the authors' responsibility to show that their proposal is likely to stimulate research that might not otherwise be undertaken.
Authors should state whether the paper they submit has been previously considered for publication in any of the APS journals (Physical Review Letters, other Physical Review journals, or Reviews of Modern Physics) and supply the code number assigned by that journal. They should also provide information about other recent relevant unpublished work of theirs (e.g., for a paper under consideration by an APS journal, supply the code number; for one submitted to another journal, provide the title; for a paper deposited on an e-print server, supply the e-print number).
When a manuscript has several authors, one of them, the corresponding author, should be designated to receive and respond to correspondence from the editors. This designation can be changed upon notification of the editors. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to represent all those involved with the work reported.
By submitting the manuscript, the corresponding author certifies:
Authors may not present data and other results obtained by others as if they were their own. Nor may authors incorporate without attribution text from another work (by themselves or others), even when summarizing past results or background material. If a direct quotation is appropriate, the quotation should be clearly indicated as such and the original source should be properly cited. Papers that have been found to be in violation of this rule will be rejected. In such cases, resubmission of the manuscript, even with the plagiarized text removed, is not ordinarily allowed. However, the editors may allow exceptions to this policy if warranted by special circumstances.
For nearly all manuscripts, the editors select one or two referees to review the paper. Authors are requested to justify the need for publication in Physical Review B in a submittal letter that can be forwarded to the referee(s). When referee reports seem inconclusive, the editors may consult another referee(s). Additional referees are usually sent previous correspondence, but not the identities of previous referees. Referee reports are advisory to the editors, but are generally transmitted by the editors to the authors, and so should be written in a collegial manner. The editors may withhold or edit these reports for cause. If in the judgment of the editors a paper is clearly unsuitable for Physical Review B, it will be rejected without external review; authors of such papers have the same right to appeal as do other authors. Special review procedures for Comments are described in the section concerning Article Types.
If a manuscript is resubmitted, it is required that authors respond fully to the referee reports that have been sent to them by the editors. Any resubmittal should be accompanied by a summary of the changes made, and a brief response to all recommendations and criticisms. This material will normally be forwarded to reviewers, and so should be written in a collegial manner. Remarks that authors wish to address solely to the editors should be clearly identified and separated from the summary and response.
As a matter of policy, it is the goal of the editors to arrive at a decision on publication in as short a time as is practical. This allows papers that have been accepted to appear quickly and gives the authors of those papers that have not been accepted an opportunity to exercise other options with a minimum of delay. In practical terms, this means that a decision on the acceptability or otherwise of a paper can normally be expected after no more than two rounds of reviewing. Additional reviewing or initiation of the appeals process should be reserved only for exceptional situations: extended anonymous review cannot be used as a vehicle to develop an otherwise unacceptable paper into an acceptable one. To arrive at a final decision on a manuscript, the editors may also consult an Editorial Board member. (Board members are generally informed of the identities of referees of papers on which they are consulted. See also the section on Author Appeals.)
Authors are encouraged to submit a list of experts whom they consider especially suited to review their paper. Such a list is particularly welcome when a manuscript treats a highly specialized subject. The editors are, of course, not constrained to select a referee from that list. If there is a particular individual(s) that authors prefer not be chosen as a referee, they should so indicate and give reasons why. Although such requests are usually honored it is customary to give authors whose work is criticized in a manuscript an opportunity to respond to the criticism.
After acceptance of a manuscript, if further information that seems to warrant investigation is received by the editors, it will be regarded as an obligation to reconsider the acceptance decision.
In some circumstances information about a manuscript considered by Physical Review B and subsequently submitted to another journal may be provided to the editor of that journal. Such information might include the comments and identities of referees.
Authors may appeal a rejection of their paper by the editors. In the case of a formal appeal, the paper and all relevant information, including the identities of the referees, will be sent to a member of the Editorial Board. The Board member may review the case on the existing record or may seek additional expert opinion. The Board member will present an advisory opinion to the editors, which will be sent to authors and/or referees with the Board member's name.
If a Board member has provided a referee report on a paper prior to appeal, another Board member must review the paper on appeal. Authors may suggest those Board members they feel are appropriate (or not appropriate) to conduct the review, but the editors are not bound by such suggestions. If there is no suitable Board member available, the editors may appoint an appropriate scientist to consider a paper under appeal as an ad hoc Board member.
The author of a paper that has been rejected subsequent to an Editorial Board review may request that the case be reviewed by the Editor in Chief of the APS. This request should be addressed to the editors, who will forward the entire file to the Editor in Chief. Such an appeal must be based on the fairness of the procedures followed, and must not be a request for another scientific review. The questions to be answered in this review are: Were our procedures followed appropriately and did the paper receive a fair hearing? A decision by the Editor in Chief is the final level of review.
Each paper, when published, carries a receipt date indicating when the manuscript was first received by the editors of Physical Review B. If the authors make substantive changes in a manuscript, the paper will also be given a "revised manuscript received" date. If the authors hold a manuscript an unusually long time after it has been returned to them with a referee's report, the original paper is considered withdrawn and the resubmitted manuscript is considered to be a new paper, with a new receipt date.
Papers transferred from Physical Review Letters or other Physical Review journals will be given a new received date, which is the date of transfer. However, a paper that is accepted without further review and has not been unduly delayed by the authors in submission to Physical Review B or by resubmitting it to the original journal may retain the original received date. Consideration will be given to a request that the original received date be retained.
The Author Status Inquiry System (ASIS) provides information to authors regarding the status of their manuscripts automatically at http://authors.aps.org/STATUS/. If clarification of ASIS is needed, send an email message to email@example.com (with subject line, for example, Status BC12345 Jones).
For papers that have been accepted for publication and sent to production, information about their status in the production process is available via a similar service maintained by the production vendor. A link to this service is provided by ASIS for such papers.
Physical Review B publishes, in addition to regular articles and Errata, two types of short papers: Rapid Communications and Comments. We no longer publish Brief Reports. The same standards of scientific quality apply as for regular articles. Each paper, except Errata, must have an abstract. Short papers are limited to 3500 words, although exceptions will be considered for Comments. For information on how to estimate length, see http://publish.aps.org/authors/length-guide.
The Rapid Communications section is intended for the accelerated publication of important new results. Rapid Communications are given priority in editorial processing and production to minimize the time between receipt and publication. The submittal letter is normally forwarded to the referee(s), so it should be supplemented with an explanation of why priority handling is needed.
Comments are publications which criticize or correct specific papers of other authors previously published in Physical Review B. Each Comment should state clearly to which paper it refers. The normal publication schedule is followed.
The reviewing procedure for Comments is usually as follows:
The Errata section contains notices regarding errors or omissions in papers previously published. Besides the standard Erratum, several special categories of documents may appear in this section. In the online journal, these documents involve bidirectional links between the original article and the document in the Errata section. The category of the corrective document is indicated in its title and in the link from the original article.
The standard Erratum is a statement by the authors of the original paper that briefly describes the correction(s) and, where appropriate, any effects on the conclusions of the paper.
An Editorial Note is a statement by the journal about the paper that the editors feel should be brought to the attention of readers of the article.
A Publisher's Note is a notice that the article has been corrected subsequent to publication. Such corrections are made to correct typographical or production errors that involve significant metadata (such as title or byline) or have a significant impact on the reader's ability to understand the article. Such corrections are normally made only shortly after publication, with approval of APS management, and are not made for scientific errors or omissions. The Publisher's Note indicates the correction and when it was made.
A Retraction is a notice that the paper should not be regarded as part of the scientific literature. Possible reasons for this include, among others, presentation of invalid results and inclusion of results that were published previously in substantially similar form. (In the latter case, the prior publication, not the Retracted article, should be regarded as the source of the information.) To protect the integrity of the record, the retracted article is not removed from the online journal, but notice of Retraction is given. Retractions are sometimes published by the authors when they have discovered substantial scientific errors; in other cases, the editors conclude that Retraction is appropriate. In all cases, the Retraction indicates the reason for the action and who is responsible for the decision. If a Retraction is made without the unanimous agreement of the authors, the approval of the Editor in Chief of APS is required.
The editors welcome suggestions from authors and referees regarding improvements in editorial and refereeing procedures.