American Journal of Physics®

For Reviewers - Review Procedures

The Review Process: Using the PXP Manuscript System

Your request to review was sent from our online editorial management system—Peer X-Press (PXP). The email contains links to let you preview the manuscript and access the web page to accept or decline the request.

If you don't respond to the initial email, you'll receive automated reminders every few days. Unfortunately, PXP is completely unaware of weekends and holidays, and we apologize if the reminders build up in your inbox.

If you must decline the assignment, we greatly appreciate receiving suggestions for other qualified reviewers.

Once you accept a review request, the manuscript system will give you access to the manuscript, along with any supplementary files, and, if this is a revised manuscript, you’ll be able to access previous versions, review reports, and editor's decisions.

Our standard review time is 18 days for an initial request or 14 days for a re-review. The reviewer webpage will allow you to automatically extend the review period by up to 2 additional weeks.

Reports may be either plain text (not TeX) or pdf documents. Comments to the editor can only be in plain text.  Additional pdf documents may also be uploaded, such as relevant papers or marked-up manuscripts.

When all of the requested reviews have been submitted, the editor will send a decision letter and then forward copies of the decision letter and the other reports to each reviewer.

Publication Criteria:

Our goal is that papers in AJP will be read and enjoyed by a wide range of physics instructors. While many research journals primarily serve the authors, AJP primarily serves its readers. Even very high-quality work is inappropriate for AJP if it is interesting only to a small group of researchers and not to a wide range of instructors.

AJP's publication criteria are guided by the "Statement of Editorial Policy," which we hope you'll be able to read in full, but some of its main points are summarized here.

To be publishable in AJP, a manuscript must provide sufficient background information to be accessible to readers from subdisciplines outside its own, and the subject matter itself should be useful and interesting to these readers, providing physical insight rather than merely solving a problem.

The AJP editors work extensively with authors of accepted papers to improve the presentation and readability of the paper. We are willing to provide this help when the reviewers tell us that the paper could be very valuable, but for a paper of marginal value, the quality of the writing can push the decision in either direction. We have much sympathy and respect for authors who are writing outside of their native language, so when problems are limited to correctable issues of grammar and usage and do not extend to issues of overall organization and coherence, then there’s no need to comment on them extensively in your review.

Papers should not normally exceed six typeset pages in length, which is roughly equivalent to 18 double-spaced pages that include equations and figures. Significantly longer manuscripts should have exceptionally valuable content. Note that lengthy proofs or extensions can be placed in online supplementary material.

Review Questions:

We ask reviewers to address the following questions:

  • Is the manuscript technically correct?
  • What group(s) of physicists might find the manuscript accessible and interesting, and why? (e.g., all who teach at the undergraduate level; those who teach in XX areas; those whose research is in YY)
  • Is the manuscript directly applicable to the classroom? Would it provide insights that would be valuable to physics instructors?
  • Are the references to previous work sufficient to place this work in context? (We are very grateful to reviewers who are able to check the literature and inform us of related work that may have been overlooked.)  Note that AJP does not ask for a comprehensive list of related work. However, papers should include sufficient references to explain how this work builds on and improves on previous work and also to suggest sources that readers may want to consult for additional information.
  • How can the manuscript be improved? Which of these improvements (if any) are required to make the manuscript acceptable? Please be as specific as possible. (Note that it is not necessary to suggest improvements to English language usage, as the editors work closely with authors of accepted papers to improve this aspect of the presentation.)

Please be aware of the following as you write your report:

  • Reviewer Anonymity: Reports will generally be returned to submitters and shared with other reviewers in exactly the form that they are submitted. According to AJP's policy, reviewer reports are anonymous by default. Nevertheless, reviewers are permitted to reveal their identities if they choose to do so. Indeed, it will be assumed that reviewers who include their names on reports are consciously choosing to reveal their identities.
  • Author Anonymity: The American Journal of Physics uses two-way anonymous review. The manuscript you receive should have identifying information removed. While it is sometimes possible to determine the identity of the authors using information such as the reference list, we ask reviewers to try to remain ignorant of the authors’ identities at least until they’ve formed an initial impression of the manuscript. If you see something in the paper that identifies the author, we appreciate your pointing that out to the associate editor, and if you find that the anonymization makes it difficult for you to perform the review, please also tell the editor, since we’ve tried hard to structure the policy to not reduce the effectiveness of the review process.
  • Confidentiality: Peer review should be confidential. You should maintain confidentiality of your review, the reviews of others, and all communications involved in the review process. You should also keep confidential details of the manuscript that have not been made public by the author or the journal. If consulting with a colleague will aid your review, please inform the associate editor before sharing the manuscript.
  • Tone: Reviewers (and submitters) should keep in mind the reactions of the person who will receive their reports (and responses to reviewers.) While you may be offended by errors in the paper, submitters are normally presenting their best work and are proud of it. While these errors and deficiencies must be pointed out, strive to maintain sympathy for the recipient.
  • Information for the editor: If you wish to convey comments to the editor that need not be shared with the submitter or other reviewers—including, for instance, comments otherwise in violation of the preceding remarks on "Tone"—you may do so in the box labeled "confidential remarks for the editor."