PRL 113, 170001 (2014)


week ending 24 OCTOBER 2014

Editorial: A Marketplace for Physics It’s been slightly over a year since I became Physical Review Letters Editor and since PRL engaged in an ongoing and successful effort to apply our standards more diligently. This initiative is framed by the vision that remaining the world’s foremost physics journal is best accomplished with PRL serving as a selective but vibrant marketplace of ideas via the publication of short accounts that significantly move science forward across all of physics. Now that we follow our acceptance criteria with increased rigor, efforts to select the proper place for a given account of research are even more crucial. I always find it challenging to educate my students and postdocs on the fact that there are many facets to the value of a publication and that it is its physics content that is most important, not the journal name. But early career researchers tend to be particularly affected by something that Professor Carl Caves calls the High Impact Factor Syndrome (HIFS) in his APS News Back Page Op Ed [http://www]. This carefully argued and important article should be required reading for all practicing scientists and science administrators. It discusses the increasingly negative influence of the Impact Factor (IF) on the physics enterprise, and lists eight recommendations to deal with HIFS. It is my hope that this article will initiate the urgently needed conversation that it calls for. Important points made by Caves include the known but often overlooked fact that by itself the journal IF is only a mildly informative tool to compare journals, and is worse at evaluating individual research accomplishments. He also stresses the importance of journal editorial staffs that are accountable to the research community, and urges authors to renew their commitment to effective communication. To achieve that latter goal the American Physical Society offers authors a broad range of options. Crucially, the APS journals belong to the physics community. As a consequence, their mission, scope, and standards are the result of a collaborative effort among authors, referees, readers, and editors, and are not guided by commercial considerations. Physical Review Letters, the world’s premier physics letter journal, is the APS flagship journal and publishes significant and notable results across the full arc of physics. A good indication of its cornerstone position in physics publication is that it is cited more than once every 90 seconds! We thank all of you for your instrumental role in the success of our renewed effort at maintaining its rigorous standards. Pierre Meystre Editor Published 20 October 2014 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.170001 PACS numbers: 01.30.Ww



© 2014 American Physical Society

Editorial: A marketplace for physics.

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