Editorial: Renewed Standards for Rapid Communications in Physical Review A (May 1, 2012)
In 1981, the Physical Review introduced Rapid Communications “intended for the accelerated publication of important new results of experimental or theoretical research.” Obviously, many things have changed over the years. The advent of email and the Web has transformed the communication of information with almost instantaneous transmission and broad availability. For this reason, the rapidity of publication, while still important, is less critical than it was 30 years ago; what really defines a Rapid Communication today is the publication of important new results. While we have implicitly focused more and more on this aspect over the past years, we will now do so explicitly to ensure that we publish only the most significant papers in the Rapid Communications section. We ask for the assistance and cooperation of all those involved — authors, referees, and editors.
Editors will be more discriminating and will only accept those Rapid Communications that present timely results of exceptional significance in a specialized field of research. We will highlight the special character of Rapid Communications more clearly by changing some aspects of the editorial handling. In sending the paper out for review, we will send an advance email to referees to confirm their ability to review. We will request that a review follow within two weeks.
We call on our referees to review Rapid Communications with the intent that we publish only the best and most prestigious of our papers in this section, thereby reasserting the original announcement in 1981 that “Rapid Communications are meant to be the equivalent of Letters, but are intended for the specialized audience of the Physical Review rather than the general audience of Physical Review Letters.” It follows that similar criteria of impact on the field apply to Rapid Communications as to Letters. Referees will be asked to assess the impact that the paper will have and to explain why they think a paper meets our criteria for Rapid Communications. We also call on the referees of Physical Review Letters to keep this in mind when making a recommendation for publication in a specific section of the Physical Review rather than Physical Review Letters; a rejection for PRL should not be followed by a recommendation to publish the paper as a Rapid Communication unless it meets rigorous standards of impact on the field.
In keeping with this effort, we also ask our authors to be more discriminating about submitting to Rapid Communications. Authors should submit to this section only those papers that will substantially advance a particular field. Papers should be written in a clear, concise style, including an Introduction that contains a clear statement explaining why the results are important in terms that are accessible to a broader audience. We require a cover letter, stating why authors feel that the paper should be featured as a Rapid Communication versus a regular article or Brief Report. We particularly encourage authors of published Rapid Communications to follow up with a longer regular article.
Our aim is to achieve a better venue to highlight the most important papers that Physical Review A has to offer. We wish to thank all for the cooperation and effort needed to make this venture a success.
Published 1 May 2012