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Frequently asked questions

Where can I find information on the formatting of my paper and the file types allowed?

You should check the journal website in the first instance for information on this.

Who should be included as a co-author on the paper?

Anyone who has made a significant contribution to the results reported in the paper. All co-authors should be made aware of the paper and agree to its submission.

In what order should authors on the paper be listed?

The authors should reach an agreement on the order themselves. Typically, though, the person who made the most significant contribution is listed first, while the corresponding author may be specified separately.

How long will I have to wait before receiving the referee reports?

This depends on a lot of factors, including the responsiveness and speed of the individual referees, and varies greatly from journal to journal.

Can I request different referees if I don't agree with them?

If you do not agree with the referee reports then contact the Editor, giving a detailed response to the report(s) and giving clear reasons why you do not agree. Depending on journal policy, your paper may then be sent to a different referee, or to an Editor for advice on how to proceed.

Will I be told who has written the reports?

No, most peer reviewed journals do not tell the authors who has written the reports. Preserving the anonymity of referees is felt to be very important.

Will the referees know my identity?

Yes, most journals operate a single-blind peer review process, whereby the referees know who the authors are, but not vice versa.

Can I request a deadline extension when revising my paper?

If you need more time to revise your paper then contact the Editor as soon as possible. They may be able to grant you an extension but this will depend on their particular policy and also other factors such as the type of paper you have submitted.

Can I publish other material related to my paper alongside the journal publication?

Supplementary files can enhance the online versions of published research articles. Supplementary files typically consist of video clips, animations or supplementary data such as data files, tables of extra information or extra figures. They can add to the reader's understanding and present results in attractive ways that go beyond what can be presented in the print version of the journal. Most journals can include such data alongside your publication.

Where can I get more information?

This is a beginner's guide to publishing only and is based mainly on IOP journal processes. There are many other sources of information, including your supervisor and colleagues. You can find more information about publishing on the following websites:

Author home page, IOP Publishing

'The Science of Scientific Writing' by George Gopen and Judith Swan can be found at

The Research Information Network peer review guide for researchers can be found at

Guide to writing a paper, Advanced Materials
Whitesides, G. (2004), Whitesides' Group: Writing a Paper. Advanced Materials, 16: 1375–1377. doi: 10.1002/adma.200400767

Where this guide refers to third-party websites and/or other third-party sources of information, it is not intending to imply any direct link with those third parties, nor does IOP Publishing warrant, or accept responsibility for, the quality or availability of any information contained therein. Where accessing any third-party websites, you should ensure that you read any legal information on those websites before making use of and/or relying on any information obtained from them.

Publishing glossary


An adjudicator is an additional referee who is asked to consider a paper if two or more referees disagree in their recommendation. The adjudicator typically considers both the paper and the referee comments already obtained before reaching a final decision.


When a paper is referenced in another paper, this is referred to as a citation and is considered one of the best measures of the impact a paper has on its field of research.

Citation indexing

A citation index is a bibliographic database that allows users to trace papers that cite older publications and is an important method of linking information.

Corrigendum / Erratum

A published list of errors and mistakes found in a previous publication either caused by the author (corrigendum) or publisher (erratum).


A tool used to detect plagiarism by comparing an author's work against a database of existing literature.


The person who makes a publication decision on a paper based on the referees' advice. The Editor may be employed by the publisher or may be an appointed member of the research community.

Editorial Board

A group of subject experts for a particular journal who are highly regarded in their field. The Board will contribute to the peer review process and oversee the quality of the journal.

Impact Factor

The average number of citations received per paper published in a particular journal during the preceding two years. The Impact Factor is often used as a gauge of the relative quality of the journal within its field.


The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), part of Thomson Reuters Corporation, specializes in citation indexing and analysis.

Open access

Typically an open access journal or repository allows readers to access papers without financial or legal barriers. The most common models are:

  • Gold open access: A model under which a fee is paid by the author, their institution or the funding body to make the paper freely available to read and to re-use.
  • Green open access: The self-archiving of a paper in a subject or institutional repository. It is generally the author's final peer-reviewed version (the accepted manuscript before it is prepared for publication), not the published version. The journal may impose some restrictions. No contribution is made to the costs of publication.
  • Hybrid open access: This is a publishing model in which 'subscription based' journals allow authors to make individual articles open access on payment of an article publication fee.

Page charges

An author may be charged for some or all of the pages within the paper. There may also be a charge for colour figures.

Peer review

Peer review is the process used to assess whether an academic paper is suitable for publication based on the quality, originality and importance of the work.

Publication charges

Publication in some journals may incur a fee.

Publication repository

A storage facility, typically online, that provides access to a collection of scientific publications.

Referee / Reviewer

An expert in the field, selected to review a paper, whose identity, for most journals, is not revealed to the author.


When a digital copy of a paper is deposited by the authors in an online institutional or subject repository. This can be the original or the peer-reviewed version but not the final published version.

Subscription journal

A journal where the reader, institution or library pays a subscription fee to have access to the journal. Many subscription journals have no charge for authors to publish in them although some have page or figure charges.