General Editorial Policies
Review of Scientific Instruments (RSI) is published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). RSI welcomes submission of original papers on scientific instruments, apparatus, technique of experimental measurement, or related data analysis. The traditional emphasis has been on instruments and methods used for 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 encouraged and welcomed. Papers on electronics or experimental methods are appropriate in so far as they relate to a clearly defined instrument or measurement.
The Review Process
The Editor of RSI, aided by the Associate and Consulting Editors and by the Editorial Board, is responsible for the content and other editorial matters related to the Journal. Manuscripts submitted are first screened by the editors, and those within the scope of the Journal are sent to an expert referee for evaluation. A manuscript may be sent to a second reviewer as deemed necessary by the Associate Editor or Editor. It is the intention to reach a decision on the basis of no more than two rounds of reviewing. Only for exceptional cases will a third review be undertaken. All additional reviews create delay, 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 reviewer requesting the changes. Authors must respond within 120 days when an electronic link is left open for resubmission or the manuscript file will be closed. Authors are strongly encouraged to make suggestions for potential reviewers upon submission. However, suggestions for specific reviewers may not be followed. Papers 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 Editor. An author may appeal a decision to reject a manuscript by making a request to the Editor that the case be reviewed by the Executive Director of AIP. The Executive Director will not make direct decisions 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 called for if proper procedures were not followed. An author wishing to initiate an appeal should do so through the associate or consulting editor who handled his or her manuscript.
Types of Papers and Their Content
Contributed Articles: Despite the word "Review" in the name of the journal, Review Articles are by invitation only, see "Invited Reviews" below. Contributed papers about an innovative and newly tested instrument, measurement technique, or data analysis method are suitable for publication as an RSI article. In almost all cases, physical data to demonstrate performance is needed, and papers that only propose a new instrument or technique are not considered suitable. In most cases, papers that present results of finite-element-analyses without comparing to physical data are not appropriate. For large instruments that involve a long period of construction and typically are built by a facility (e.g., an interferometer for detection of gravity waves), a description of the instrument or of a component of the full instrument along with the performance that is expected based on simulation or numerical modeling specific to the component may be suitable. However, reports of minor changes that would lead to serial publications on the same instrument are not suitable. Also not appropriate are papers of a "narrative" nature which describe the instrumental experience of one author or a single research group in the process of designing an instrument or through several generations of a type of instrument. The Editor has found that these often discuss unsuccessful instruments. 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 new results selectively and only when the results are decidedly informative on an 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 passing 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. Manuscripts principally about a commercial instrument will be refused by the Editor. Experience with such cases has resulted in either 1) a negative reaction from a supplier who feels their product has been unfairly represented or 2) a positive reaction leading to the view that RSI papers can serve as a form of advertising. Both reactions are unwanted.
Notes: Shorter papers can be submitted for publication as an RSI Note. These may not exceed three Journal pages and are intended to describe components or techniques that do not fulfill the above requirements for an RSI article, but are nonetheless of value to the scientific community. Notes can be used to report on a significantly updated and improved instrument. Just as for Articles, Notes should contain a comparison to physical data and to demonstrate performance. Authors should present new results selectively and only when the results are decidedly informative on an instrument, measurement technique, or data analysis method. A manuscript that follows quickly upon the acceptance of a prior submission by the same author group on the same or a closely related topic will be closely scrutinized by the Editor for fresh novelty and may be returned to the author for length reduction to a Note-length manuscript.
Conference Proceedings: RSI publishes the Proceedings of only two conferences: the International Conference on Ion Sources (ICIS) and the Topical Conference on High-Temperature Plasma Diagnostics (HTPD). Each of these has an assigned Consulting Editor. Solicitations for publication of additional conference proceedings will be referred to the AIP Conference Proceedings series.
Invited Reviews: RSI publishes comprehensive reviews of an instrumental area. Reviews are written upon invitation of the Consulting Editor for invited papers and should be of sufficient length to cover the significant published work of many authors. Manuscripts submitted for publication as an RSI Review are routinely sent to two reviewers in parallel by the Consulting Editor who also handles the subsequent correspondence.
Invited Articles: RSI also publishes Invited Articles that are invited by the Consulting Editor for invited papers. These can be longer than Regular Articles and can be limited in scope to the work of a single researcher or research group. Unlike Regular Articles, the content can be exclusively a review of previously published work. Invited Articles are editorially treated similarly to Invited Reviews.
New Products: As selected by the Associate Editor for New Products, submissions to RSI on new instruments and components, new detectors, measurement and materials, new literature and software, and new facilities and hardware are published in a special section of regular monthly issues.
Letters / Comments / Responses: Letters to the Editor are reserved for general information considered informative for RSI readership. Comments concerning a published RSI article may be published. Authors are given the opportunity to respond to a comment and the Response may also be published.
Errata: Submission of errata are reviewed by the Editor and are only very rarely sent out for review. Errata should be used to correct typesetting errors and should not be viewed as a means to partially rewrite or to amend a paper. Changes in authorship are not appropriate for errata. Changes in acknowledgment may be appropriate.
Criteria for Publication
The major criterion for publication is technical novelty. A 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. Explicit claims of novelty in the text of a paper are often too self-serving and unnecessary. However, explanations of novelty may be solicited by the editor in case an author wishes to rebut a negative review. 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 of an instrument reported in the accompanying manuscript. 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 will be refused by the Editor, but may 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. Mandatory excess page fees will be imposed for papers longer than 10 printed pages; this policy does not pertain to invited articles or invited review articles.
Papers covering material previously published in any English language peer reviewed journal (except in the case of Invited Reviews or Invited Articles) will be refused. RSI will consider for publication papers 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 proceedings. 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 focus of all papers should be on a scientific research readership, and papers should describe work done on research concerning 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.
Review of Scientific Instruments requires that copyright be assigned to the American Institute of Physics. It is a tradition of long standing that submission to the Journal implies that the work has neither been copyrighted, nor accepted for publication elsewhere. Since copyright transfer is required before publication, electronic acceptance of the Transfer of Copyright Agreement during the submission process can prevent unnecessary delays. RSI also requires authors to inform the editors if a paper has been previously submitted to another journal, whether or not it is currently active with that journal.
A paper may be returned to the corresponding author for no other reason than that it suffers due to poor English. Papers must be understandable and communicate an unambiguous message. The editors and staff can make only a limited number of edits, and it is the responsibility of the authors to obtain help from a colleague who is fluent in English if that is needed. Most problems occur when there are nuances in meaning, and the authors bear the primary responsibility for clarity. Poor English may ultimately be a reason to refuse a paper.
Retraction and Correction Policies
AIP takes its responsibility to maintain the integrity and completeness of the scholarly record of our content for all end users very seriously. AIP places great importance on the authority of articles after they have been published and our policy is based on best practice in the academic publishing community. Changes to articles after they have been published online may only be made under the circumstances outlined in AIP's Retraction and Correction Policies which can be accessed here.
It is possible to transfer a rejected manuscript to another AIP journal for consideration. A list and descriptions can be found here: http://journals.aip.org/. If you feel that your manuscript would be appropriate for publication in another of AIP's journals you may request a transfer by email. Please note that transferring manuscript files does not guarantee that the manuscript will be considered by the receiving journal. It is only meant to offer the technical facility to allow transfer of manuscript files and correspondence without the inconvenience of having to resubmit from journal to journal.
The AIP grants to the author(s) of papers submitted to or published in RSI the right to post and update the paper on the Internet. Postings on an author's personal web page as well as on e-print servers are permitted. It is also possible to create a link to an RSI paper. Related specifications and details are available here.
(Revised March 2012)