[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

APS Redefines Length: How much is a picture worth?


APS Redefines Length: How much is a picture worth?

Ridge, NY, 14 July 2011 -- A goal for Letters and short papers is 
to communicate key results and findings efficiently and 
concisely. Authors work hard in many cases to maximize the 
material presented within the constraints of the printed page. 
Since page formatting occurs after scientific review, and despite 
conscientious attempts by many authors to adhere to APS style 
when submitting their work, formatting changes are often 
required; our current scheme to estimate length, in spite of our 
best efforts, is fairly inaccurate.  This naturally leads to 
frustration, especially when authors are faced with the arduous 
task of further editing and revising their work during the proof 
stage, which sometimes leads to concessions in the clarity of the 
text and the quality and quantity of referencing.  The tension 
between clearly communicating the primary research results of an 
investigation and giving proper attribution to prior literature 
frequently leads to compromises that can be detrimental to 
physics research.

Technological changes have moved publishing to electronic-first 
publication where the print version has been relegated to simply 
another display mode.  Distribution in HTML and EPUB formats, for 
example, changes the reading environment and reduces the need for 
strict pagination.  Therefore, in an effort to streamline the 
calculation of length, the APS journals will no longer use the 
printed page as the determining factor for length. Instead the 
journals will now use word counts (or word equivalents for 
tables, figures, and equations) to establish length; for details 
please see http://publish.aps.org/authors/length-guide. The 
title, byline, abstract, acknowledgment, and references will not 
be included in these counts allowing authors the freedom to 
appropriately credit coworkers, funding sources, and the previous 
literature, bringing all relevant references to the attention of 
readers.  This new method for determining length will be easier 
for authors to calculate in advance, and lead to fewer 
length-associated revisions in proof, yet still retain the 
quality of concise communication that is a virtue of short 
papers.  We will also use this opportunity to integrate 
references contained in Supplemental Material into the paper. 
This will expand the ease by which readers can gain a broad 
perspective over the relevant literature and help to ensure that 
these articles receive the credit they deserve.

This new method for constraining length was implemented on 11 
July 2011.  You may spot the effect of this change mainly in PRL 
where we fully expect to see a good number of Letters run onto a 
fifth page.  We hope that authors will find this method easier to 
use, and that it will reduce delays in the review and proof 
stages and lead to more comprehensive referencing.  The relative 
efficiency of this scheme, together with other ongoing efforts to 
control our operational expenses, also allows the APS 
subscription price-per-article, which we strive to keep among the 
lowest of any physics journals, to be unaffected by this change.

A picture is worth 170 words, not one thousand, according to our 

Contact: Daniel T. Kulp, Editorial Director, American Physical 
Society, dan@aps.org

About APS: The American Physical Society (www.aps.org) is a 
non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse 
the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research 
journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy 
and international activities.  APS represents 48,000 members, 
including physicists in academia, national laboratories and 
industry in the United States and throughout the world.  Society 
offices are located in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, 
NY, and Washington, DC.