American Journal of Physics®

Editorial Procedures

1. Initial Processing

Upon receipt of a new submission, an acknowledgment will be sent to the submitting author. Each manuscript is given an AJP editorial office manuscript number. Please use this number in all correspondence with the editorial office and label any subsequent revisions with this number.

The Editor will perform a cursory review to determine whether or not...

  • the topic, level, and intended audience of the manuscript are reasonably aligned with AJP's Editorial Policy
  • the writing is sufficiently clear so that: (1) reviewers will not needlessly expend their own valuable time trying to interpret the author's intent, and (2) a fair review may be obtained
  • the introduction and references therein suggest that a thorough literature search has been performed
  • the format of the manuscript reasonably observes the instructions in this document.

If the manuscript is found not to meet these most fundamental requirements it may be summarily rejected.

If the manuscript is sent out for review, we try to provide a report to authors within three months of the date of receipt. Often it takes less time, but delays are also sometimes unavoidable. Correspondence concerning manuscripts with more than one author should come from the originally submitting author and include the AJP editorial office manuscript number.

2. External review

The external review process is initiated when the Editor sends the manuscript out for review. Reviewers are asked to review the Review Procedures and to submit a report addressing the items indicated in our Report Form.

When the reports are returned, the Editor makes a decision taking into account the recommendations and the number of previous revisions and then informs the submitter in a decision letter.

Decisions on initial submissions

  • If the reviews are negative or insufficiently strong to support continued editorial consideration, the manuscript will be rejected. (Note: Because of the very large number of submissions that AJP receives and our high standards for interest, usefulness, and accessibility to our audience, only about 40% of those manuscripts that qualify for external review are ultimately accepted for publication.)
  • In most other cases, including cases where the reviews are mixed, the manuscript will be returned for revision with suggestions and directions for resubmission. With the resubmission, authors must include a cover letter that summarizes the revisions and provides responses to the issues and questions raised by the Editor and/or the reviewers. Upon resubmission the manuscript will usually be sent back to the previous reviewers and occasionally to new reviewers for re-review.
  • In very rare cases the initial reviews are strong enough to support conditional acceptance (see below).

Decisions on  resubmissions

The bar is set a little higher for resubmissions that have enjoyed the benefit of initial review. This is the time to end editorial consideration of any manuscript that fails to show very significant promise of conditional acceptance after one more review.

  • If the reviews are not, at this point, relatively strong, the manuscript will be rejected.
  • Some manuscripts will enjoy strong reviews, but still need to be returned for further revisions. Resubmissions must include a cover letter that summarizes the new revisions and provides responses to the remaining issues and questions raised by the Editor and/or the reviewers.
  • Manuscripts with strong reviews, including only optional suggestions for further revision, and that are essentially publishable in their current form (other than relatively minor issues of format and English grammar and usage), will be conditionally accepted.

"Conditional acceptance" is an indication that a manuscript has completed the external review process and is now qualified for internal review and editing. Note: No manuscript is "accepted for publication" until it has completed the internal review and editing process.

3. Internal review (after conditional acceptance)

The external review process is the first stage that a manuscript goes through to be considered for publication. Manuscripts are accepted only after both the Editor and the Associate Editor have edited the manuscript. The reason for this additional editing is that reviewers may miss aspects of a manuscript that only become evident upon detailed editing. Often reviewers are too close to the subject of the manuscript and may not flag portions that are unclear to a more general audience.

During the internal review process, the editors perform their own careful review of the manuscript and 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 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 generally accept an author's preferred language as long as it conforms to accepted standards of English grammar and usage.

Only when the editors and authors are satisfied with a manuscript, is it accepted for publication and sent to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) for detailed copy editing and publication.

4. Copy editing and publication (after acceptance for publication)

After a manuscript is accepted for publication and sent to AIP, the author will be asked to submit a Transfer of Copyright Form and to correspond with AIP as necessary on other matters including correction and approval of the completed galley proofs sent to them by AIP.

Authors should return any corrections to the galleys to AIP as soon as possible. Please note that the galley 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. Final responsibility for correcting errors lies with the author.

Storage of Records

All correspondence related to manuscripts submitted to AJP is maintained for a minimum of five years.