The Review Process
Applied Physics Letters is published by AIP Publishing. The editor-in-chief, aided by the deputy editors and associate editors, is responsible for the content and editorial matters related to APL. To identify papers that meet APL publication standards, the editor-in-chief and the deputy editors initially screen all submitted manuscripts. Manuscripts that pass the screening are evaluated by expert referees. Generally, two referees are sought but decisions on publication may be made with fewer or more reviews as required. Routinely, we decide whether to publish a manuscript after one or two rounds of review. We only allow additional reviews in exceptional situations.
Criteria For Publication
APL offers rapid publication of short experimental and theoretical papers related to applications of physics phenomena in all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. Because the significance, novelty, and timeliness of results are critical considerations, APL’s publication standards require the manuscript to meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Report research that makes a substantial advance in applied physics and closely related disciplines
- Advance new or emerging fields that influence the direction of applied science
- Develop innovative technology using underlying physical principles
- Present scientific advances that cross multiple disciplines, generating new avenues of science dialogue
- Take critical steps toward real-world applications
Before submitting a manuscript to APL for consideration, authors should note the following additional points:
- Cover Letter: Authors of APL are highly encouraged to provide a cover letter as part of their submission. It can help convey the importance of the research to the Editors, explain why you consider the paper appropriate for the broad readership of Applied Physics Letters and specifically how it aligns with the criteria for publication. The cover letter should make a clear statement on the manuscript’s significance and list related work by the authors. The cover letter will not be transmitted to peer reviewers and is intended to aid in the editorial pre-screening of manuscripts.
- Device proposals: A number of manuscripts submitted to APL concern proposed devices that have not yet been constructed. We consider such submissions only when one or more of the three following criteria apply: (i) it contains sufficient novel theory to qualify as a theoretical manuscript; (ii) it includes sample experimental data by the author to demonstrate that the idea is feasible; or (iii) the idea is of such novelty and potential importance that (i) and (ii) can be waived.
- Materials preparations: Manuscripts about materials preparation, including thin-film synthesis and processing, must contain more than one of the following features: (i) new or unique methods for preparing materials or films; (ii) novel, unusual, or excellent properties; and (iii) physics rather than merely giving recipes. Although recipes can be helpful to the community, there are more appropriate places to publish them.
- We discourage the use of words like "new" and "novel." If the findings are not new or novel, they should not be submitted to APL. Also, avoid trivial priority claims such as "for the first time" and phrases such as "to the best of our knowledge."
- Timeliness: A fraction of papers, which report new results but in a mature field, do not fulfill the condition of timeliness required by APL.
- Serial Submissions: Authors should not attempt to publish incremental advances in ongoing work as a series of manuscripts. While there is a need for rapid communication of important results, serial publication of specialized advances can result in fractured literature that is less accessible to readers. Further, we do not accept serial submissions designed solely to meet manuscript length requirements.
- Serial Publications: As a letters journal focusing on short manuscripts in rapidly evolving fields, APL does not publish sequential (serial) papers with the same title on the same topic and identified as Part I, Part II, etc.
- Language Standard: It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that manuscripts are written clearly. A manuscript can be rejected if the scientific meaning is unclear due to poor English. Manuscripts that do not meet Applied Physics Letters’ language standard will be returned to the authors for rewrite before peer review, during the review process and/or if provisionally accepted pending language editing.
Because good science has no value unless it is clearly communicated, AIP Publishing recommends that authors use AIPP Author Services to improve the quality of your paper’s written English. AIPP Author Services was developed in line with our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion for all authors. Using this service ensures that your paper will be free of language deficiencies, so editors and reviewers will be able to fully understand your research during the review process. A native English-speaking subject matter expert of AIP Author Services will correct spelling, grammar and punctuation and verify the use and consistency of technical terms and content in your paper. Note that this is not a requirement or a guarantee of acceptance for review or publication.
Length: We will return manuscripts that exceed APL’s length limit to the author to shorten before we consider it for publication. If a manuscript must be longer than the length limit to effectively communicate results, it is not a Letter and should be submitted to a journal that publishes full-length articles. Guidelines for estimating length are included in the Author Instructions.
Title length: Authors of APL are encouraged to restrict title to the order of 100 characters including spaces. This is a guideline only.
Figures: Figures should highlight, clarify, and summarize data and results. They must be legible, with clear graphics, easily understood axis and labels, and well composed captions. For detailed information on preparing figures see our Instructions for Preparing Graphics.
Bylines: Any changes the authors wish to make to the author byline after the initial submission of a manuscript should be made in writing, and the document, or concurrence letter, should be signed by all authors, including those being added or removed. The new author list should be stated directly along with a justification for the change. Getting the signatures and providing the letter is the responsibility of the corresponding author. Alternatively, the corresponding author may send an email to all authors, including the author who is being added or removed, stating the desired author order and the justification for the change and requesting that each author respond back to the corresponding author and copy the editorial office indicating approval of the change.
If the authors wish to make a change to the byline, they should begin by contacting the editorial office (email@example.com) indicating the change they want to make and whether they will provide a concurrence letter or verify concurrence through the email process. The editorial office will then provide instructions on how to provide documentation to the journal.
Copyright: Authors publishing in the journal retain the copyright and must complete an exclusive License to Publish Agreement. When authors submit their manuscript to the journal, they imply that their work has neither been previously copyrighted nor accepted for publication elsewhere. Because the License to Publish Agreement must be completed before the journal publishes a manuscript, we encourage authors to sign the agreement electronically before they submit their manuscript. This will prevent unnecessary delays. We also require authors to inform the editors if the manuscript, or part of the manuscript, has been previously submitted to, or is pending at, another journal.
Patents: Authors assume the risk of submitting a manuscript that contains patentable ideas. Neither APL nor AIP Publishing assumes any responsibility in this regard.
The editors reject a manuscript when it does not fit the mission of APL, does not meet APL’s standards for novelty and importance, or when it has technical issues that lead to concerns about the reliability of the results. Editorial rejection without review is based on the first two considerations, although editors may return a paper without review if they notice a serious technical issue. Rejection after review generally results from assessment of novelty and importance or from technical concerns uncovered in the review process. There are a few other reasons that a paper may be not be published. For example, when a large number of potential referees turn down the invitation to review, this is a sign that the paper does not overlap APL’s mission and audience. In such cases, the editors will return the manuscript so that the authors can pursue a more appropriate journal.
Authors can appeal a rejection by submitting an appeal to the editorial office (firstname.lastname@example.org) within 30 days after the manuscript is rejected. The appeal must include a revised manuscript and a succinct (one page or less) explanation of the arguments in favor of reconsideration. Successful appeals focus on clarifying the suitability or importance of the work if the editors rejected the manuscript because it did not fit APL’s mission or did not meet APL’s standards for novelty or importance. If the editors rejected the manuscript based on technical issues, the appeal must rebut the technical issues raised in the referee’s reports. In your appeal, address APL's acceptance standards. Also, keep in mind that because your manuscript was initially rejected, you must provide an insight or argument that goes beyond what the editor has already learned through the review process compelling the editor to conclude that your manuscript deserves further consideration.
Examples of approaches that do not lead to successful appeals include:
- A simple revision of the paper to address referees’ comments. The editor would probably have returned the paper and allowed the authors to update it if a simple revision would have addressed the main issue.
- Resubmitting the paper under a new manuscript number within 30 days of rejection. Once a paper has been rejected, it is inappropriate to resubmit essentially the same manuscript even if it has been updated in response to the referees’ comments. Resubmissions are automatically rejected by the editorial office and the authors are informed of the appeal process.
- Reinterpreting the referees’ reports for the editor. It is better to provide the editors with new information or insights.
- Providing a list of papers on the same topic that have recently been published in APL. This can create concerns about the novelty or importance of the work.
Appeals will not be considered if submitted after 30 days. In order for a rejected manuscript to be considered again for publication in APL after 30 days, it must be revised to meet APL’s acceptance standards for novelty and importance as well as incorporate feedback from editors and/or referees, and submitted under a new manuscript number. An appeal letter clarifying the suitability of the work, as described in APL’s Editorial Policies, must be included with the new submission. The appeal letter must also provide a satisfactory explanation as to why the appeal was not made within the 30 day appeal timeframe.
Ruling on an appeal of a rejected manuscripts is not immediate. Decisions generally take one or two weeks.
Policies about Comments, Responses, Retractions, and Corrections
APL and AIP Publishing’s policy is based on best practices in academic publishing. We take seriously our responsibility to maintain the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record of our content. We have several mechanisms to correct errors in articles that have been published in APL. Authors can use an Erratum to correct a simple error or omission in a published article. A retraction may be issued if there is clear evidence that the findings are unreliable. These are discussed in AIP Publishing's Retraction and Correction Policies.
Readers can use a Comment to identify and correct significant errors or deficiencies in APL articles or to take issue with the conclusions reached. Comments can also provide additional insight or corroboration even when an article does not contain an error. We encourage readers considering submission of a Comment to first contact the authors of the article in question for a direct response. The following policies apply to Comments and Responses submitted to APL:
- Comments must meet the same standards of importance and timeliness as Letters published in APL. Hence, they must address a significant concern or new insight to be suitable for publication. In addition, the longer it has been since an article was published, the more likely it is that the body of published literature has corrected a serious error, which makes a Comment less valuable.
- Comments must address scientific issues only and be concise, substantive, and contain no harsh criticism. Comments should not be used to address controversies over research priority or to call attention to an oversight in a reference list.
- A Comment should be fewer than 1000 words, no more than one journal page. When estimating length, consider reference lists, tables, figures, and figure captions. The title should read: “Comment on original title [APL volume, page (year)].”
- The editors initially evaluate a Comment to determine whether it meets APL’s publication standards. If so, the editors will typically ask the authors of the original Letter for a Response to the Comment. Like the Comment, the Response must conform to the requirements listed above, including the 1000-word limit. The title of the response should read: “Response to Comment on original title [APL volume, page (year)].” The editors also evaluate the Response to determine whether it meets publication standards.
- In general, after a Comment and Response pass editorial review, the same anonymous referee reviews the Comment and its Response. If the Comment is rejected, neither is published. If the Response alone is rejected, the Comment will be published without the Response. If both are accepted, the Comment and the Response will appear in the same issue. Only one round of review is allowed for both Comment and Response. If the Comment and Response require more than minor revisions, both are rejected. APL cannot guarantee as rapid a publication schedule as that which we maintain for regular submissions.
If your manuscript is not accepted for publication in Applied Physics Letters, an editor may recommend a transfer to another AIP Publishing journal, such as AIP Advances, for immediate consideration. AIP Advances is a peer-reviewed, fully open access journal covering all areas of the physical sciences. For more information about AIP Advances, visit https://pubs.aip.org/aip/adv.
In some cases, the transfers are offered after consultations with the editors of other AIP Publishing journals. If you choose to transfer your manuscript, all reviewer reports and editor recommendations will be transferred along with the manuscript. Please visit the receiving journal's website for more information. Manuscripts must meet the receiving journal’s acceptance criteria. There is no guarantee that the receiving journal will publish a transferred manuscript.