How good are Phys. Review Journals?

  • #1
SchroedingersLion
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Dear all,

I just had a paper rejected (my first) by Physical Review Letters due to it being "not of interest to a general audience". I got an offer to have it published in Physical Review B instead.

I was a bit disappointed by that, as my supervisors were confident that it would go through. Now I am wondering what to think of Phys. Rev. B. Is it a good journal? On one hand, the web states that all the Phys. Review sub-journals are counted as the best within physics (good for me). On the other hand, the impact factor by citations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Review) is not even half as large as with the Letters.
On the other hand again, Nature and Science have the highest impact factors. Yet I have heard experienced scientists label them as junk since they are targeted at such a broad audience that they are of no use to the specialists in the respective field.

Can someone comment on the relevance of the impact factors and the reputation of these journals in the field?
 

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  • #2
Vanadium 50
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I think you're focusing on the wrong thing.

What is your alternative to PRB? Withdrawing it entirely in a fit of pique?
 
  • #3
SchroedingersLion
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I think you're focusing on the wrong thing.

What is your alternative to PRB? Withdrawing it entirely in a fit of pique?

No, no, I already accepted. I was just wondering.
 
  • #4
f95toli
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Phys rev B is a very good journal. Phys rev A, B, App etc are often the "default" journals for high-quality basic research aimed at a specialised audience so it is going to be one of the journals your peers will be keeping an eye on. .
PRB also allows for longer more in-depth articles than PRL (which in theory is limited to 4 pages) .

PRL has become much stricter about the "of interest to a general audience" criteria in the past couple of years and even very good articles are frequently referred to PRB; but of course it is a highly subjective criteria and depends on the reviewer.
 
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  • #5
ZapperZ
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Dear all,

I just had a paper rejected (my first) by Physical Review Letters due to it being "not of interest to a general audience". I got an offer to have it published in Physical Review B instead.

I was a bit disappointed by that, as my supervisors were confident that it would go through. Now I am wondering what to think of Phys. Rev. B. Is it a good journal? On one hand, the web states that all the Phys. Review sub-journals are counted as the best within physics (good for me). On the other hand, the impact factor by citations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Review) is not even half as large as with the Letters.
On the other hand again, Nature and Science have the highest impact factors. Yet I have heard experienced scientists label them as junk since they are targeted at such a broad audience that they are of no use to the specialists in the respective field.

Can someone comment on the relevance of the impact factors and the reputation of these journals in the field?

So the paper you are trying to publish doesn't have a single citation from PRB? Interesting.

One of the highest number of citations of all the papers that I've published was a PRB Rapid Communication. It also ended up being cited in 2 books.

So what is it again about you asking if it is any good?

Zz.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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It eigenfactor is in the top 1% of all journals.

Hmmm... I had a hard time finding a decent physics journal that wasn't. I think that is because there must be a huge number of crap journals in other fields.

I still think the OP is missing the point. The quality of the article is far more important than the impact factor of the journal. Besides, the point is moot since the journal has already been accepted by PRB.
 
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  • #9
Vanadium 50
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It's still remarkable how high physics journals rank. There is one in the top quarter that is a Hindawi journal, but has some real people on it's editorial board. I read one article and it's wrong through and through. I wouldn't call it crackpottery, but it's certainly not right. The article authors are predominantly in countries were there is a great deal of pressure to publish in western journals.

There's one in the bottom half (but not very far into the bottom half) that is a Russian journal in translation. Nothing wrong with it, but has relatively low impact outside of Russia.

I guess I should take some comfort that as bad as the journal situation is in HEP, it's nothing like other fields.
 
  • #11
Dr. Courtney
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All the PR journals are top tier. If PRL rejects a paper, the appropriate PR* journal is the next best choice.
 
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  • #12
SchroedingersLion
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Thank you everyone!

Even though my questions were not related to a practical decision (as I was not hesitating to accept their offer), I was wondering what it means if PRL rejects. Maybe I was just in need of a confidence boost...

On another note, what do you think about journals like Nature and Science? On one hand, they seem to be the most "prestigious". On the other hand, the content is aimed at a general audience, which implies it might not be really useful to a practicing expert.
 
  • #13
ZapperZ
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On another note, what do you think about journals like Nature and Science? On one hand, they seem to be the most "prestigious". On the other hand, the content is aimed at a general audience, which implies it might not be really useful to a practicing expert.

Oh good grief!

Zz.
 
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  • #14
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If getting a paper published in PRB and not PRL is stressing you out this much, you should seriously consider a career outside of science, because this will happen to you over and over for the next four decades. It's part of the job.

I will say again, the quality of the paper means far more than the prestige of the journal. If you aren't getting satisfaction from writing a high quality paper, again, I would strongly consider a career outside of science. If it's not enough to make small steps that are appreciated only by a few peers, but you need external validation, you will be miserable for the next four decades.
 
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  • #15
Dr. Courtney
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Thank you everyone!

Even though my questions were not related to a practical decision (as I was not hesitating to accept their offer), I was wondering what it means if PRL rejects. Maybe I was just in need of a confidence boost...

On another note, what do you think about journals like Nature and Science? On one hand, they seem to be the most "prestigious". On the other hand, the content is aimed at a general audience, which implies it might not be really useful to a practicing expert.

For a physicist to be asking these kinds of questions suggests a level of inexperience that publication in a PR* journal should be a significant confidence boost. If a paper is rejected by PRL it is probably not going to fare better in Nature or Science. Most physicists will never write a paper satisfying the 1) general interest 2) level of importance 3) scientific correctness of Nature or Science.

I've published a few PRLs, but none of them are in my short list of most highly cited papers. The length limit of PRL doesn't give enough room (in my view) to provide the methodological detail, volume of data, and quality discussion for other scientists to find useful (compared with the more generous length allowances of the PR* journals.) I always felt in writing PRLs that a lot of great material end up on the cutting room floor. And in reading PRLs, I often need to go and find longer papers and theses from the same research group to really understand what is presented in the PRL.
 
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  • #16
hutchphd
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As I recall the optimal way to play the game; if you came up with something good, was to send off the "letter" to PRL announcing results and establishing priority and then publish the detail later elsewhere in PR or just elsewhere. I think most folks tried for a two-fer or a three-fer or more! So it goes.
 
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  • #17
f95toli
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I will say again, the quality of the paper means far more than the prestige of the journal.

That depends on the context. Although PRB Is a very good journal having a paper in published in PRL does look good on your CV. This can be important if you are looking for a job, especially if some of the people doing the hiring are not specialists in your field (or as in many cases not even scientists).
Having papers published in high-impact journals can also be important for the university/organisation you work in.

Publish or perish is -unfortunately- a real thing; whether we like it or not.
 
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  • #18
Vanadium 50
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I still maintain that it is more important to write good papers than where they go. Sure, a publication record where one publishes only in The Journal of Unmitigated Crap looks bad, but if you're publishing there because nobody else will take you, that says something.

I looked at my top 15 (in my view, the papers most representative of my career) papers:
  • Science: 1
  • Nature Physics: 1
  • PRL : 6
  • PLB: 1
  • PRD: 5
  • Ann.Rev.Nucl.Part.Sci: 1
I think that is a reasonable mix. (But I would, wouldn't I, because I made the list)
 
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  • #19
SchroedingersLion
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Oh good grief!
Zz.
This does not help. The words you reacted to came from experienced academics and I was asking for peoples' views on that.

For a physicist to be asking these kinds of questions suggests a level of inexperience that publication in a PR* journal should be a significant confidence boost. If a paper is rejected by PRL it is probably not going to fare better in Nature or Science. Most physicists will never write a paper satisfying the 1) general interest 2) level of importance 3) scientific correctness of Nature or Science.
Of course I am inexperienced, the paper deals with the result of my master thesis and I am just completing the first year of my PhD. I never said I was going to try to have it published in Nature or Science. It was just a general question on how to view the impact of "general audience" journals such as PRL, Nature or Science. In particular I was asking about the reasoning that @ZapperZ made fun about without explaining why.

If getting a paper published in PRB and not PRL is stressing you out this much, you should seriously consider a career outside of science, because this will happen to you over and over for the next four decades. It's part of the job.

I will say again, the quality of the paper means far more than the prestige of the journal. If you aren't getting satisfaction from writing a high quality paper, again, I would strongly consider a career outside of science. If it's not enough to make small steps that are appreciated only by a few peers, but you need external validation, you will be miserable for the next four decades.
You are overreaching a bit here. As I am basically a beginner in publishing (who is not even close to the end of his PhD), I don't really think you should advise me to stay away from science just because I am a bit disappointed in the rejection of my first paper o_o

Also, you assume that I know what a high-quality paper is. You claim that I should be happy with having written a high-quality paper. Yet, in my inexperienced head, the high-quality works end up in prestigious journals. Which means that if said journals reject my work, it is less likely to be high-quality. Which is the thought that troubled me.
I don't know what "prestigious" even means, how journals as PRB relate to PRL in reputation, or what the rejection of PRL means w.r.t. my work. I was confused about the "general audience" thing, about the fact that Nature and Science are generally considered the most prestigious, even though some people seem to go as far as to label them "pop science magazines", not useful for the practicing expert.

What I, at the very least, take from the thread up until here, is that PRB is a good journal and I should be happy to get published there (instead of being disappointed by PRL's rejection).
 
  • #20
f95toli
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I was confused about the "general audience" thing, about the fact that Nature and Science are generally considered the most prestigious, even though some people seem to go as far as to label them "pop science magazines", not useful for the practicing expert.

Just to be clear: "General audience" here typically means "working physicists in related fields"; it certainly does not mean the man on the street or even people working in the other natural sciences.
Note also it say it should be of interest , it does not mean that non-specialists necessarily need to be able to understand all the details; but it should -ideally- be reasonably clear why the paper is important.

There are plenty of papers published in Nature or Science which will be completely incomprehensible to non specialists; but typically they try to explain its importance in the introduction and/or in accompanying "Perspective" articles (to use Science as an example) which tend to be a bit more "pop sci" in style.
 
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  • #21
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  • #22
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"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" ...Sir Winston Churchill

“We are made to ask what it is that political democracy gives us. The system is utilitarian. But is it a fit object of faith and hope?”....William F Buckley
 

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