The Review Process

The Review of Scientific Instruments (RSI) is published by AIP Publishing. RSI welcomes the submission of original manuscripts on novel scientific instruments and techniques of experimental measurement and data analysis methods. The emphasis is on instruments and methods used for scientific research, but we will consider articles with commercial application if the device or technique also has application in scientific research. Although primarily a physics journal, papers across all areas of science are considered for publication. Papers on research instruments in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, astronomy, geophysics, and materials science are the main focus and are encouraged. Papers on electronics or experimental methods are appropriate insofar as they relate to a clearly defined instrument or measurement and represent a novel advancement in electronic design or application.

The Editor-in-Chief of RSI, aided by Associate Editors and the Editorial Advisory Board, is responsible for the content and other editorial matters related to the Journal. Submitted manuscripts are first screened by the editors, and those within the scope of the Journal, judged to be of acceptable novelty and quality, are sent to expert referees (usually two) for evaluation. It is our intention to reach a decision based on no more than two rounds of reviewing. Only for exceptional cases, and where progress is clearly being made, will additional reviews be undertaken. Additional reviews create delays, and requests for a new reviewer are often inappropriate in conjunction with significant modification to a manuscript. A decision after significant changes have been made is usually left to the reviewers requesting the changes. Authors must respond within 90 days, after which the electronic link, left open for resubmission of the manuscript file, will be closed.

Authors are strongly encouraged to suggest potential reviewers upon submission. However, the final decision on referees is made by the assigned Associate Editor, including whether or not to include specific suggested reviewers. Papers, which are far afield and possibly suitable in the editor's opinion but for which no suitable expert referee can be found after some considerable time spent searching, may be refused by the Associate Editor. In some instances, final decisions can be appealed by submitting a rebuttal through an automated appeals process. Only under exceptional circumstances will an appeal be granted by contacting the editorial office. An author may further appeal a decision to reject a manuscript by making a request to the Editor-in-Chief that the case be reviewed by the publisher’s office at AIP Publishing. The publisher will not make direct decisions on 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 warranted if proper procedures were not followed. An author wishing to initiate an appeal should do so through the Associate Editor who handled the manuscript.

Criteria for Publication

The major criterion for publication is technical novelty. A previously published instrument is not considered to be novel. Referees are asked to assess the merit of papers as bearing on a new instrument, new measurement technique, or new data analysis method. A clear statement of what the author sees as novel features in the reported device or technique is helpful for referees (and eventually readers) to compare to their own analysis. Each manuscript must meet the criteria for publication independently. Consequently, authors who submit two papers covering the same new instrument will be asked to combine them. The policy leading to the decision that papers should be combined applies, in particular, to manuscripts submitted in parallel by the same author group, where one covers only the theory (for example) of an instrument reported in the accompanying manuscript. This rule may be relaxed if application of the rule results in an extremely long or cumbersome paper. Such exceptions shall be the decision of the Editor-in-Chief in consultation with the authors and Associate Editors. Each submitted manuscript must stand on its own and must separately satisfy the criteria set out in these General Editorial Policies. Acceptance for publication of one manuscript can never be contingent on the acceptance of another manuscript under peer review. Similarly, in cases where a new manuscript is submitted before the peer review process is concluded on an earlier submission by the same author group on a closely related topic, the new manuscript may be refused by the Editor, but can be resubmitted at a later date. This policy is intended to guard against double publication of the same content should a reviewer of the first paper request inclusion of material contained in the new submission.

Papers covering material previously published in any peer reviewed journal (except in the case of Invited Reviews, Invited Articles, or certain Special Topic manuscripts) will be refused. RSI will consider papers for publication that contain some material previously published, but not yet peer-reviewed, as in a non-peer-reviewed conference proceedings paper. However, such papers should have significant new content, and it is not acceptable to simply resubmit the verbatim text of a paper that has previously appeared in a non-peer-reviewed conference proceeding. Authors may be asked to supply preprints or reprints related to the topic of the submitted manuscript. Authors are strongly encouraged to upload closely related papers or preprints as supplemental files at the time of submission.

The audience for all papers should be thought of as a scientific research readership, and papers should describe work done on research concerning the development of an instrument, measurement technique, or related data analysis method. Papers describing a commercially-available instrument will be refused. RSI papers are not intended to advertise instruments for sale. The New Products section can, however, be used to describe commercial instruments.

Authors publishing in Review of Scientific Instruments will retain copyright and are required to complete an exclusive license to publish agreement. It is a long-standing tradition that submission to the Journal implies that the work has neither been previously copyrighted nor accepted for publication elsewhere. Since completion of the License to Publish Agreement is required before publication, electronic acceptance of the Agreement during the submission process can prevent unnecessary delays. When submitting the manuscript, the authors must indicate that the manuscript and the results/data/figures contained in it are not published elsewhere, nor are they under consideration from any of the contributing authors by another publisher. The Editors reserve the right to reject the manuscript if the authors fail to inform RSI about dual submission/publication.

Types of Papers and Their Content

The goal of Review of Scientific Instruments is to provide an archive of scholarly research that enables readers to practice the use of innovative scientific instrumentation, measurement techniques, and data analysis methods. Manuscripts should have a stronger “how to” than “what we found” character.

Contributed Articles: Contributed articles present detailed descriptions of innovative and newly-tested instruments, measurement techniques, or data analysis methods. In almost all cases, physical data to demonstrate instrument performance are needed, and papers that only propose a new instrument, technique, or method are not considered suitable. Proposals for new instruments that are based only on model studies will be considered if the proposed device has truly novel aspects and if the modeling software is in wide-spread use in the research community and thus has a published track record demonstrating accurate modeling results. References documenting benchmarking of the software should be part of the manuscript. The details of the specific model must be sufficiently described to provide reviewers with enough information to assess the reasonableness of the model for the study described. Even so, tests of key aspects of the proposed device may be required by the Editor or referees. Reports of minor changes that would lead to serial publications on the same instrument are not suitable, nor are papers of a "narrative" nature, which track the development of the instrument through a number of iterations. In recognition of researchers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, RSI will interpret these rules more leniently than in the past and will consider theoretical papers that propose a new instrument, technique, or method as well as modeling studies. It may be helpful to mention in such manuscripts that plans to test the idea experimentally will be carried out as soon as access to the lab is granted.

Papers on a new experimental technique as applied to a published instrument may be suitable, but such papers are closely scrutinized for novelty and for the significance of the technique. Papers reporting new results without providing new information on the instrument used for the measurement or on the measurement technique are not suitable, and authors of such manuscripts are referred to other journals. Authors should present results in a manuscript to demonstrate the capabilities (and limitations) of the new instrument, measurement technique, or data analysis method.

Papers claiming to be novel only on the basis of lower cost are not considered appropriate for publication in RSI. However, many such papers describe more elegant solutions to previously solved instrumental problems, and the particular solution can have other advantages besides lower cost. A generic “low cost” can be mentioned in the text, but novelty sufficient for publication will be judged solely on technical grounds. Cost cannot be referenced in the title, nor can prices be quoted anywhere in the text.

Invited Reviews and Articles: Invited Reviews are commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief. They should be of sufficient length to cover the significant published work of many authors on the topic of the review. These types of manuscripts are classic reviews of an entire instrumental/measurement science field. Manuscripts submitted for publication as an Invited Review are sent to two reviewers in parallel by the Editor-in-Chief, who also handles the subsequent correspondence. Invited Reviews are placed first in a designated issue, and authors are asked to provide artwork for the cover of the issue in which they appear. Typically, there is only one Invited Review or Invited Article per issue. Suggestions for Invited Review topics may be directed to the Editor-in-Chief via the RSI editorial office. Detailed instructions for authors of invited papers are available upon request. Invited Articles are similar to Invited Reviews, but are focused on a specific device or measurement technique.

Contributed Reviews: RSI will consider contributed manuscripts for publication that correspond to Invited Reviews, as described above, but that may be contributed without first being invited by the Editor-in-Chief. As one example, when a new instrumental development is initiated in a research group, a detailed study of that instrumental field with an exhaustive review of the literature will likely take place first. The results of that literature review can be described in a manuscript submitted as a Contributed Review. Authors should strive for a balanced and fair overview of the instrumental field of interest. Manuscripts submitted for publication as a Contributed Review are reviewed with the same standards as an Invited Review. Artwork from the Contributed Review may be used for the cover figure of the issue in which it appears. In very select cases, a Contributed Review may be upgraded to an Invited Review – but this is not the recommended path to an Invited Review.

Perspectives: Perspectives, like Invited Articles and Reviews, are commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief. Perspectives focus on topics currently generating a great deal of interest in the instrumentation community. They provide a look at recent advances in a subfield of instrumentation or measurement techniques and where the subfield is headed. A Perspective needs to contain an assessment of the current status of the field, which can be achieved either through a mini-review component or with the presentation of new, unpublished data and original results. Invited Perspectives are distinctly different from Review Articles in that emphasis is put on very recent developments, possibly leading to disruptive technologies, open questions, and possible solutions. Perspectives are characterized by personal views and opinions of the authors who are recognized experts in their field.

Tutorials: Though all RSI papers are expected to have some didactic aspect, RSI publishes Invited Tutorials, which retain the high standards of RSI.

Tutorials are educational tools (at the advanced-graduate level) intended to help shape the next generation of researchers. Tutorials also support researchers focused on specific topics or techniques or improving their skills in particular areas.

Tutorials do not need to have original research content; rather, they explain, with an educational perspective, principles or techniques in a particular research area. They also communicate a broad overview of the objectives, results, and open questions for that area. The Editor-in-Chief screens proposed Tutorials. If acceptable, the Tutorial will go through RSI’s rigorous peer-review process. Tutorials must meet the same high standards as Regular Articles.

Comments: are to correct significant errors in articles published in the journal, to rebut conclusions reached, or to provide additional insight or corroboration. Comments may not exceed three journal pages and must address scientific issues only and be concise, substantive, and contain no harsh criticism. We discourage Comments on questions of priority. Generally, the editor will invite the authors of the targeted Comment to respond. The editor may decide to accept Comments and Responses, if any, for publication only after the two parties have submitted final versions of their pieces. The editor reserves the right to send Comments and Responses to an adjudicator or to reject one or both for publication.

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 the Review of Scientific Instruments’ 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.

Retraction and Correction Policies

AIP Publishing takes its responsibility to maintain the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record of its content for all end users very seriously. AIP Publishing places great importance on the authority of articles after they have been published, and its policy is based on best practice in the academic publishing community. Changes to articles after they have been published online may be made only under the circumstances outlined in AIP Publishing's Retraction and Correction Policies.


If the editors decide that your manuscript is not suitable for publication in Review of Scientific Instruments, you may transfer your manuscript, without resubmitting, to AIP Advances for immediate consideration. AIP Advances is a peer-reviewed, fully open-access journal covering all areas of the physical sciences. Articles published in the journal are always freely accessible to download without a subscription.

If you choose to transfer your manuscript to AIP Advances, all reviewer reports and Editor’s recommendations will be transferred along with the manuscript to facilitate a rapid decision. Once transferred, your article may be published online within 14 days, depending on the initial reviewer feedback and the Editor’s decision. This option may save you up to eight months by avoiding the resubmission and re-review process associated with submitting your manuscript to another journal. For more information about AIP Advances, visit

If you wish to transfer your manuscript to another AIP Publishing journal, please contact the editorial office to request a transfer. Please note that transferring manuscript files across AIP Publishing journals does not guarantee that the manuscript will be considered by the receiving journal; manuscripts must meet that respective journal’s acceptance criteria.