Today, the American Physical Society officially launches a new, online-only, open access journal, Physical Review X (PRX). One of the foremost questions researchers must have is: What are its scientific standards?
The APS has long had the following mandate for its journals: “accept for publication those manuscripts that significantly advance physics and have been found to be scientifically sound, important to the field, and in satisfactory form.” The implementation of this mandate has led to a whole family of Physical Review journals, not least Physical Review Letters, with high reputations among physics journals worldwide. Building upon that achievement and with the full support from the APS, in particular from its entire publishing arm, we will do our utmost to make scientific excellence a primary defining characteristic of PRX.
To achieve that, we will insist that referees inform the editors of their concrete and substantive assessment of the levels of originality, technical quality, scientific rigor and significance of the papers they review to enable our selection of the best. We have designed our forms of communication with referees to reflect this principle (see, for example, our Advice to Referees). We will also regularly seek advice about papers from our Editorial Board of distinguished scientists. In so doing, we believe that we can offer researchers one of the most important values they look for in journals: eXcellence!
Researchers will also want to know what areas PRX covers. To answer this question, it is instructive to look at the constantly expanding and varying landscape of global physics research. Physics research that is driven by the needs for new materials, new applications or devices has broadened the reach of physics and enriched it, and so do the vibrant fields of biological physics and interdisciplinary physics of complex systems. Condensed matter physics meets atomic, molecular, and optical physics in systems of ultracold atoms or molecules; quantum chromodynamics meets plasma physics and fluid dynamics in relativistic heavy ion collisions; and molecular liquid physics meets colloidal and polymer physics in glassy systems. The list of such synergetic interactions of topics and fields goes on.
PRX’s coverage will be as broad as this landscape itself, and it will be deliberately welcoming to physics-based research works that cross topical, field, or discipline boundaries. We will strive to be responsive to the changing landscape of physics research through the journal’s coverage. The topical breadth and diversity of our exceptionally committed Editorial Board will be one of our strong resources in this effort.
What more value can Physical Review X offer to individual authors and readers as well as the whole research enterprise? We can name a few aspects here.
- Global, free access: Open access publishing models have been gaining popularity among institutions, funding agencies, and individuals and support from them. In these models, authors or their institutions pay article-processing fees to have accepted papers published, and the papers are then freely and permanently available for readers to read and re-use without restriction under a Creative Commons license. Physical Review X is a "Gold" open access journal. Supported by a close-to-cost $1500 article-processing charge paid by authors or their institutions, it will make its FULL content free to all readers across the globe. Readers, especially those from developing countries, small research or academic institutions and industries, will definitely benefit from this open access.
- Flexible publication format: PRX lets authors choose, according to their varying needs, article lengths of up to 20 pages in the standard Physical Review format.
- Enhanced content delivery: PRX will actively develop means to broaden the reach, and raise the visibility, of published papers to readers. We are starting this effort with what we call “dynamic tagging” of papers, available only on an online platform. This feature allows authors to assign to their papers up to three subject areas, under which their papers will be listed when published. It emphasizes any cross-topic, cross-field, or cross-disciplinary characteristics a paper may have and offers readers multiple browsing or searching routes to the paper.
Our mission is to make Physical Review X a publication venue of value, and of choice, to the broad physics community. With your contributions, as authors and referees as well as readers, we believe that success is eminently possible.
Jorge Pullin, Editor
Ling Miao, Associate Editor