American Journal of Physics®

For Contributors – Submission and Review Procedures

The editors and staff at AJP are committed to publishing papers that will be widely read and useful to the community of physics instructors. For that reason, papers are carefully reviewed and thoroughly edited. The result should be a paper that makes you very proud. We encourage potential submitters to read about the process below.

The following instructions apply to regular papers (articles), and most of them apply to other submission categories (letters, book reviews, notes, etc.). Exceptions for other categories are found at the bottom of this page.

Initial submission

Submit manuscripts online at AJP Peer X-Press Manuscript Submission Website

Please have ready a single pdf file containing all text, endnotes, figures, and tables, preferably with figures and tables incorporated into the text rather than at the end. Ensure that your manuscript meets the requirements for anonymous review.

If authors have a conflict of interest, this should be disclosed in the Author Declarations section of the manuscript. If no conflicts exist, authors should include the statement "The authors have no conflicts to disclose." This statement should appear after any acknowledgements and before the references. This statement is not required for editorials, book reviews, notes, letters, comments, and responses. More information about this policy can be found here.

You will also be asked to provide a brief statement explaining why the manuscript is appropriate for publications, based on the guidelines in the Statement of Editorial Policy.

Optional additional items include a cover letter to the editor and contact information for scientists who can provide expert and unbiased reviews.

Initial evaluation by the editors

Before sending manuscripts for review, the editors check that they fall within the Editorial Policy and could be useful to readers. If the editors are unsure, they may send the manuscript to a single reviewer. Manuscripts that are not acceptable are rejected without review.

Decision following external review

Manuscripts are generally sent to 2-3 reviewers, and we try to provide an initial decision to authors within one to two months of the date of receipt. This decision may be based not only on the reviewer recommendations, but also on the editor’s judgement of the usefulness of the paper to the readership. For about half of the manuscripts sent for review, the recommendations are insufficiently strong to support continued editorial consideration, and the manuscript is rejected. In other cases, the manuscript will be returned for revision with suggestions and directions for resubmission.

Optional resubmission

Resubmissions are made using the link provided in the decision letter or by logging in to Include a single response letter that explains how the concerns of the reviewers (and editor) have been addressed. A cover letter to the editor is optional. Upon resubmission the manuscript will usually be sent to the previous reviewers and sometimes to new reviewers who will have access to the previous reviews. Review normally continues until all reviewers recommend either "accept" or "accept with revisions."

Conditional acceptance

Conditional acceptance is issued when the reviewers are generally satisfied that a paper is appropriate for publication in AJP. Frequently the editor will include either general or specific suggestions for improvements to the paper when issuing the conditional acceptance. Significant additional changes beyond those requested by reviewers are normally required to bring a paper to the standard of publication. This additional editorial review is necessary because external reviewers may not provide detailed review or may be too close to the subject of the manuscript to flag portions that are unclear to a more general audience. The editors will work with authors to improve a manuscript's clarity and general readability and to remove redundancy. The process generally includes one or more correspondences asking the author to implement or approve changes, to remove ambiguities, to rewrite sections, to submit better figures, etc. Authors have the final say on all matters including wording and the editors will usually accept an author's preferred language as long as it conforms to accepted standards of English grammar and usage; however, it is possible that a paper that has been conditionally accepted will ultimately be rejected if the editor does not find the author’s final version to be acceptable.

When resubmitting a paper following conditional acceptance, you will upload an editable version of your text file, along with separate, publication-quality figure files and, if applicable, any supplementary materials (these may need to be formatted as zip files if they are not in a format accepted by the manuscript system). The preferred text file format is LaTeX, using the most recent REVTeX style. The only acceptable alternative to LaTeX is Microsoft Word .docx format, using either the built-in MSWord equation editor or MathType, and only standard fonts. LaTeX users should consult the sample manuscript for instructions about creating an editable copy of the manuscript. Restore any information that was removed to allow anonymous review, including author names, institutions, and acknowledgements. If you wish to include authors’ preferred pronouns, these can be included as author notes, along with email addresses.

Copy editing and production

Once the editors and authors are satisfied with a manuscript, it is accepted for publication and sent to the American Institute of Physics Publishing (AIPP) for copy editing and publication. For papers submitted using the Editorial Express manuscript system, the authors must complete either the Exclusive License to Publish or the Open Access Agreement Form. AIPP will send galley proofs to the author within a few weeks of its submission by the editors. (Note that the editors do not normally see the proofs; the author has final responsibility for correcting errors.) Reprints may be ordered using the Reprint Order Form.

Please note that the proof stage is not a time to make manuscript revisions. Instead, it is a time to find and correct mistakes. A limited number of alterations in proof are unavoidable, but the cost of making extensive corrections and changes after an article has been composed will be charged to the author.

While the copy editors are almost always correct on matters of journal style and generally correct on grammar and punctuation, authors who are confident of their original text can over-ride changes made by the copy editors.

Video abstracts

AJP manuscripts can include video abstracts. See examples here. These can draw readers to the paper, and also help them better understand work that is highly visual. At the time of acceptance, the editor may suggest that a video abstract would be helpful, but the author can also volunteer to prepare one. David Jackson, the video abstracts editor, assists in their preparation.

Appeal of decisions

If a paper was rejected without review, the authors may contact the editor with information that may have been overlooked in making the decision. The editor will either send it to one reviewer for further assessment or consult with an associate editor who can advise whether it should be sent for review.

If a paper was rejected following negative review reports, but the authors believe that the reviewers misunderstood the manuscript, they may send a brief explanation (not a revised paper) that will be forwarded to the reviewers to ask if it changes their opinions. At the editor's discretion, the submission may also be sent for an additional review.

AJP receives so many submissions that normally a paper is accepted only if it receives uniformly favorable reviews. However, even in that case, the editor may conclude, upon closer examination, that it is either inappropriate for AJP or more suitable for another journal. If the authors disagree with this decision, they may ask the editor to refer the case to the AAPT Publications Committee. A subcommittee will examine the paper, the reviews, the appeal, and the editor's reasoning and will determine whether additional consideration is appropriate. Papers with one "reject" review or two "weak revise and resubmit" reviews will not be considered for appeal by this committee, regardless of the strength of the other reviewer recommendations.

If an author believes that proper editorial procedures were not followed, they may ask the editor to refer the case to the Journal Manager at AIP Publishing. The Journal Manager will not decide whether to accept a manuscript for publication, but rather will determine whether the editorial review process was properly followed. If proper procedures were not followed then additional reviews can be requested.

Manuscript categories

Article - The instructions above normally apply, although there are some special categories of articles that are exceptions.

Computational physics papers are normally reviewed and accepted by the Computational Physics editors, and if that process has been completed, then when they are uploaded to the manuscript system they can include author identifying information and need not include a statement of how they satisfy editorial policies. They should still be initially submitted as a pdf. They will then be "returned for revisions" so that the editable files can be uploaded, and the manuscript system will ask for the License to Publish or Open Access agreement at this point.

"Back of the envelope" papers are normally written by the Back of the Envelope editor. These are not generally reviewed, and they reflect the opinion of the author. Authors interested in contributing a paper to this section should contact the AJP Editor.

Letter - These should normally be under 800 words. They may contain figures, equations, and endnotes, but they are not normally subdivided into sections. They may be reviewed, depending on their content. If they comment on a published paper, the authors of that paper will normally be given an opportunity to respond. Submissions do not need to include a statement of how they satisfy the editorial policies or a conflict of interest statement.

Book Review - These are solicited by the book review editor, and they are normally accepted by the book review editor and the AJP editor before they are submitted into the manuscript system. They can and should contain author identifying information when initially submitted. Submissions do not need to include a statement of how they satisfy the editorial policies or a conflict of interest statement. These are not generally reviewed, and they reflect the opinion of the author.

Comment, Response, or Note - Comments on published papers will normally be sent to the author of the original paper, and submitters will be asked to contact them directly before submitting a comment. They will usually be reviewed, as will any responses. Notes are shorter and more focused than regular articles, but the submission and review process is similar. None of these categories need to include a conflict of interest statement.

Erratum - These are submitted by authors to correct errors that are discovered in their previous publications. They are not normally reviewed, and they do not need to include a conflict of interest statement.

Guest editorial - These are normally reviewed according the procedures above. They do not need to include a conflict of interest statement. Those who are considering writing a guest editorial are encouraged to discuss the topic in advance with the AJP editor.

Award, Announcement, Editorial, Books Received - These are submitted only by the editorial staff.