Review procedure on IOP journals
Upon receiving a new manuscript, the editorial office conducts initial pre-refereeing checks to ensure the article is legible, complete, correctly formatted, original, within the scope of the journal in question, in the style of a scientific article, and written in clear English. Any article that has problems with any of the above criteria may be rejected at this stage.
Some of our journals also conduct a pre-refereeing quality assessment which may be carried out by a member of the journal’s Editorial Board. If an article receives a preliminary assessment by a member of the Editorial Board, the authors may receive a report from them as part of the journal’s decision.
If the journal has a particular requirement for articles to be of exceptionally high interest or urgency (for example, if the article is being submitted as a Fast Track Communication or a Letter), then submissions that do not appear to meet these criteria may be rejected at the pre-refereeing stage.
Articles passing successfully through the pre-refereeing stage then begin formal peer review.
Research papers submitted for publication in the majority of IOP journals are sent to two independent referees who are asked to report on the quality, scientific rigour, novelty, significance to the field, and presentation. (Non-paper article types, such as reviews or notes, may differ.)
Referees are selected from our reviewer database and we try to find the best combination of scientific expertise and referee experience for each paper.
Authors are welcome to suggest referees for their paper on submission, but this is not required. In the interests of impartiality, if an author-suggested reviewer is used then we will complement this with a review from a second referee chosen by the journal from the general referee pool.
IOP is committed to publishing high-quality material in its journals and most journals have quite high rejection rates, typically above 50%. Papers referees deem to be technically sound, but of limited interest, are usually rejected. (Exceptions to this are Journal of Physics Communications and our Express journals—Materials Research Express and Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express—where papers are reviewed only to confirm they are original and technically sound.) Decisions are based not only on the content of the written reports, but also taking into consideration the quality assessment scores returned by each reviewer. The editorial office reserves the right to send any papers to journal Editorial Board members where they believe a paper’s quality might not meet the journal’s threshold for publication.
If there is sufficient agreement between the referees:
The paper may be accepted in current form.
The referees' reports may be sent to the authors for revision of the paper.
The paper may be rejected.
If the paper contains too many errors or problems for the referees to comment fully on the scientific content, the authors will be asked to make corrections and then resubmit the article.
Use of an adjudicator
If the referees’ reports are not in agreement, the paper and the reports are sent to an independent adjudicator (often a member of the journal’s Editorial Board) who is first asked to form their own opinion of the paper and then to read the referees’ reports and adjudicate between them. A decision is then made based on the adjudicator’s recommendation. If a referee is overruled by an adjudicator, we will normally notify the referee of this.
In exceptional cases, some of our journals reserve the right to withdraw manuscripts from consideration when we are unable to find sufficient reviewers.