Author guidelines for IOP Journals

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Author guidelines

For submitting to IOP journals

Last updated October 2016

This guide will help you to submit your article to one of our journals. Here we will explain what we look for in an article, how to format your article and submit it to us, how to prepare revisions of your article and advice on copyright and permissions issues. For information about our peer review procedures, please read our Peer Review Policy.

This guide applies to the majority of our journals that use the ScholarOne Manuscripts submissions system. A full list of journals this applies to is included at the end of this document. For journals not listed there, please refer to their respective homepages for advice on submitting a paper.

What we look for in your article

We consider for publication in journals published by IOP Publishing (IOP) articles which:

  • report original science, and add significantly to research already published
  • are of interest to the community
  • are scientifically rigorous
  • have sound motivation and purpose
  • have not been published previously in the peer-reviewed literature, including in another language
  • are not under consideration for publication in any other peer-reviewed journal or book available through a library or by purchase.

It is particularly important for authors to consider whether they have enough new results before starting to plan and write a paper for submission to an IOP journal. Reporting incremental steps forward from previous work is not good enough.

Articles based on theses for higher degrees may be submitted, although authors should take care that such articles are prepared in the format of a research paper, which is more concise than is appropriate for a thesis.

Articles reporting work that was originally presented at a conference may be submitted, provided these articles do not appear in substantially the same form in a peer-reviewed, published conference proceeding. Again, authors should take care to ensure the format of a research paper is used. The article length should also be appropriate to the content. In case of doubt, please enquire with the journal.

Reports that are not available to the general public are not regarded by IOP as prior publications. Many journals published by IOP consider a range of different article types in addition to regular research papers, including special issue articles, topical reviews, comments and replies. However, please check via the journal homepage that your article is of an acceptable article type and suitable scope before submission.

All articles are judged solely on their scientific merits. Unbiased consideration is given to all manuscripts offered for publication regardless of whether or not the authors request publication on an open access basis and regardless of the race, gender, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, political philosophy, sexual orientation, age or reputation of the authors.

We treat all submitted articles as confidential until they are published and they will only be shared with those referees, Board members, Editors and IOP staff who are directly involved in the peer review of the article. (An exception to this would be if it is felt necessary to share the article with additional external parties in order to investigate a possible breach of the ethical policy.)

How to prepare your article

Before submission please check the individual journal homepage for information on the journal’s subject scope, available article types, specific manuscript length limits and details of any variations to the peer review process that might apply.

General

IOP aims to be flexible and to make submission as easy as possible for authors. We only require a PDF file of the new article (and any suitable supplementary data files) on submission. Authors are asked to submit at revision stage the source files used to create their PDF (to assist with accurate typesetting), the text of which can be in either Microsoft Word or TeX/LaTeX. Our online submission form also allows authors to collect and directly upload their article from the arXiv and to upload other compressed or archived files.

Authors can format their papers in the way that they choose. It is not necessary to try to produce pages that look like published journal pages, as the detailed design (typesetting) work will be undertaken by IOP as part of the production process. However we do ask that authors consider the readability for referees when formatting their manuscripts. For example, please use a reasonable font size (at least 10 point) and line spacing. There is no need for authors to include line numbers in their manuscript as these will automatically be added on submission. Figures and tables should be embedded at the appropriate point within the text, rather than placed at the end of the manuscript. Papers must be written in English.

Length of submissions

Most journals have guidelines for the maximum recommended length for each different type of article, as detailed in the scope statement available from that journal’s homepage. It is important that you check these guidelines when preparing your submission. Articles which are longer than the length limit may still be considered for publication provided that the length is clearly justified by the scientific content.

Article structure

Your article should normally consist of the following sections and should follow the Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion system:

  • a title page with the title of the article, name(s) of author(s) and address(es) of establishment(s) where the work was carried out
  • an abstract
  • an introduction
  • a methods section
  • a results section
  • a discussion section
  • a conclusion section
  • an acknowledgments section
  • a list of references

The following sections give a brief overview of the main elements of an article. Please read these first. You can find more detail in our LaTeX and Word guidelines which are presented in the style of a typical article, and offer suggestions on how to format a manuscript.

Title page

Title of article

The title should be concise, informative and meaningful to the whole readership of the journal. Please avoid the use of long systemic names and non-standard abbreviations, acronyms or symbols.

Authors and addresses

Author lists should be finalised prior to submission (for more information on this please consult our Ethical Policy for Journals). For articles with several authors, please list the names of all the authors first, followed by the full postal addresses, using superscript numeric identifiers to link an author with an address where necessary. Authors in all IOP journals have the option to include names in Chinese, Japanese or Korean characters in addition to the English name. The names will be displayed in parentheses after the English name.

If an author’s current address is different from the address where the work was carried out, this should be explained in a footnote. You can also include e-mail addresses on the title page.

Please note that there is also an option to add authors’ ORCID numbers when you complete the online submission form, and we encourage you to do so.

Classification numbers and keywords

Some journals use the Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme (PACS), or the Mathematics Subject Classification (MSC) scheme. Others publish keywords on each article. Therefore, please check the journal’s homepage.

Abstract

Your abstract should give readers concise information about the content of your article. It should be informative, accessible and not only indicate the general scope of the article but also state the main results obtained and conclusions drawn. The abstract should be complete in itself - no table numbers, figure numbers, references or equations should be referred to. It should be suitable for direct inclusion in abstracting services and should not normally be more than 300 words.

Main text

It is helpful for readers if your article is concise, but clarity is essential. Short sentences and paragraphs make reading easier. You should aim for consistency within your article in matters such as hyphenation and spelling.

All acronyms and abbreviations should be clearly explained when they first appear in the text, and all units used should be consistent throughout the article.

Want further editing support?

IOP Editing Services, in partnership with Editage, provides editorial support for authors before they submit their manuscript. Authors can choose from a range of options, including:

  • English-language editing
  • Translation services
  • Plagiarism checking
  • Technical review.

Visit ioppeditingservices.editage.com to find out more.

Article structure

Introduction
This should be concise and describe the nature of the problem under investigation and its background. It should also set your work in the context of previous research, citing relevant references. Introductions should expand on highly specialised terms and abbreviations used in the article to make it accessible for readers.
Methods
This section should provide sufficient details of the experiment, simulation, statistical test or analysis carried out to generate the results so that the method can be repeated by another researcher.
Results
The results section should detail the main findings and outcomes of your study. You should use tables only to improve conciseness or where the information cannot be given satisfactorily in other ways such as histograms or graphs. Tables should be numbered serially and referred to in the text by number (table 1, etc.). Each table should have an explanatory caption which should be as concise as possible.
Discussion
This should discuss the significance of the results and compare them with previous work using relevant references.
Conclusion
This section should be used to highlight the novelty and significance of the work, and any plans for future relevant work.

Mathematics

For detailed information on the presentation of mathematics, formulae and equations please consult our LaTeX and Word guidelines.

Acknowledgments

All authors and co-authors are required to disclose any potential conflict of interest when submitting their article (e.g. employment, consulting fees, research contracts, stock ownership, patent licenses, honoraria, advisory affiliations, etc). This information should be included in an acknowledgments section at the end of the manuscript (before the references section). All sources of financial support for the project must also be disclosed in the acknowledgments section.

The name of the funding agency and the grant number should be given, for example:

'This work was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a National Cancer Institute grant R21CA141833.'

When completing the online submission form, we also ask you to select funders (from the FundRef Registry) and provide grant numbers in order to help you to meet your funder requirements. For more information about FundRef, please see: crossref.org/fundref.

References

It is vitally important that you fully acknowledge all relevant work. You should also consult our Ethical Policy for Journals for general guidance on compiling your reference list.

A reference should give your reader enough information to locate the article concerned and should consist of:

  • author name(s) and initials
  • year of publication
  • title of the journal or book
  • the volume number
  • for books: town of publication and the name of the publisher
  • and finally the article number or page numbers.

Where there are up to ten authors, all authors’ names should be given in the reference list. Where there are more than ten authors, only the first name should appear, followed by et al.

You should take particular care to ensure that the information is correct so that links to referenced articles can be made successfully. Material which is really a footnote to the text should not be included in the reference list, which should contain only references to bibliographic data. Copies of cited publications not yet available publicly should be submitted for the benefit of the referees. Unpublished results and lectures should be cited for exceptional reasons only. Before submitting your article, please ensure you have done a literature search to check for any relevant references you may have missed.

Be sure to check on the journal homepage whether your choice of journal specifically requires page numbers, article titles or a particular reference style.

Reference labelling systems

There are two main systems for labelling references.

In the Vancouver numerical system, references are numbered sequentially through the text. The numbers should be given in square brackets, e.g. [1], [4-7] etc., and one number can be used to refer to several instances of the same reference. The reference list at the end of the article then lists the references in numerical order, not alphabetically.

Alternatively, in the Harvard alphabetical system, the name of the author appears in the text together with the year of publication, e.g. (Smith 2001) or Smith (2001) (as appropriate). Where there are only two authors both names should be given in the text, e.g. (Smith and Jones 2001) or Smith and Jones (2001); however, if there are more than two authors only the first name should appear followed by et al: (Smith et al 2001) or Smith et al (2001). If you refer to different works by one author or group of authors in the same year they should be differentiated by including a, b, etc after the date (e.g. 2001a). If you refer to different pages of the same article, the page number may be given in the text, e.g. Smith (2001, p 39). The reference list at the end of your article using this system should be in alphabetical order.

You may use either of these two systems for your references (unless you are submitting to either Physics in Medicine and Biology or Physiological Measurement, which require all references to be written using the Harvard alphabetical style).

Figures

Carefully chosen and well-prepared figures, such as diagrams and photographs, can greatly enhance your article. We encourage you to prepare figures that are clear, easy to read and of the best possible quality. Characters should appear as they would be set in the main body of the article. We will normally use figures as submitted; it is therefore your responsibility to ensure that they are legible and technically correct.

Note: If you are intending to use previously published figures, you must obtain written permission from the copyright holder before using them in your article. Please use our permission request form to ensure that you include all relevant details when approaching copyright holders. For further information about permissions please see the copyright and permissions section. Detailed information on common graphic formats and their preparation with examples are provided in our graphics guidelines.

Colour figures

The use of colour in figures can enhance the effective presentation of results, and there are no restrictions on the use of colour in the online version of your article. However, please note that readers of the journal may download and print out on a black-and-white printer, which may make coloured lines difficult to distinguish.

Unless you are submitting to one of our online-only journals, please note that because conventional full-colour printing remains an expensive process, we usually ask you (or your institution) to pay the additional costs incurred (i.e. the costs over and above the cost of normal black-on-white reproduction) if you require colour in the printed version of your article. There is no charge for colour in the online version of an article.

The costs for colour print are £250 per figure, capped at £2000 per article. If you would like your figures to be reproduced in colour in the printed journal, please let us know who will be responsible for paying the additional costs, and supply the relevant VAT number (if appropriate) and purchase order number (if necessary).

If you need more information or guidance, please contact the Editorial Assistant of the journal you are submitting to.

Figure captions

Your figures should be numbered in the order in which they are referred to in the text. If there is more than one part to a figure (e.g. figure 1(a), figure 1(b) etc.), the parts should be identified by a lower-case letter in parentheses close to or within the area of the figure. Captions should be included in the text and not in the graphics files. Micrographs should include a scale bar of appropriate size, e.g. 1 μm.

Supplementary data

All journals encourage authors to submit supplementary data attachments on submission to enhance the online versions of published research articles. Supplementary data typically include multimedia files such as video clips, sound files, animations and additional data such as computer code, large tables, additional figures or appendices. Many options are available, for example, you can use movies and animated GIFs to illustrate the evolution of iterative algorithms or include data sets with your article to allow readers to use the information to test their own work and truly explore the implications of your research. Supplementary data are not included in the PDF of the article or in any print version. The printed journal remains the archival version, and supplementary data items are supplements which enhance a reader's understanding of the article but are not essential to that understanding. Supplementary files are hosted for free with your article on our online journals page and are accessible to the whole readership.

Guidelines for submitting video files

Most standard file formats are suitable: animated GIF, AVI, MPG, etc. The recommended settings are

  • frame size: 480 x 360 pixels
  • frame rate: 15 frames/s
  • data rate: 150 kB/s
  • file size: 3 MB, unless more is required to display the science properly.

What files to submit on initial submission

1

A PDF of the complete manuscript for review, containing the names and institutes of authors, and figures and tables embedded within the text. Authors are asked to consider the need for clarity and readability when selecting column type, line spacing, font size and layout when preparing the PDF, to assist reviewers.

2

Any suitable supplementary data (see previous supplementary data section for details about suitable files).

3

Any permissions that you have already obtained at this stage.

How to submit a new article

Please submit all new articles via the 'Submit an article' link on the journal homepage. Please ensure that you enter all the required information about your article and all its authors before uploading your files. You are required to select some keywords for your article. Please note that, if your article is accepted for publication, we will display these keywords on the published article. Authors may propose preferred (and non-preferred) referees on submission. The suggested referees should have suitable subject expertise and not have any conflicts of interest (please see the Peer Review policy for further information on conflict of interest). These suggestions will be considered; however, the editorial staff and/or the Editorial Board will make the final decision regarding referee selection.

If you are a new author, you will need to set up an author account before submitting your first article. Using the Author Centre, you will be able to track the progress of your article, respond to the referee reports, and submit your revised version.

When submitting a new article, we only require you to upload a single PDF file and any relevant supplementary data at this stage. The PDF should contain your complete manuscript, including any embedded figures and tables. You may upload your article from the arXiv directly by entering the arXiv e-print number. Please also submit any permissions that you have already obtained at this stage.

If you experience any problems submitting your article online, please contact the journal team for assistance.

How to prepare your revised article

It is common for our referees to request that authors make revisions to their articles. If you are asked to submit a revised version of your article, in addition to article files, we require a list of changes made and a point-by-point response (even if you disagree) to each referee comment before we consider the revision. We recommend that authors copy each referee comment into a separate document and add a response below each comment (and refer to the manuscript line numbers when referring to changes in the main text) to assist our staff and referees with checking revisions as quickly as possible. If the referee(s) and Editorial Board are not satisfied with the changes to your manuscript, it may still be rejected at this stage. Please make sure that you send your revised article to us and not simply the original version again. By observing these guidelines you will be assisting the referees, who give up their time to review manuscripts.

What files to submit on revision

1

A PDF of the complete revised manuscript; containing the names and institutes of authors, and figures and tables embedded within the text.

2

The latest set of source files, e.g. TeX/LaTeX files or a single Word file (which includes figure/table captions), individual figure files, and tables. It is also possible to archive or compress large files.

How to submit a revised article

Please submit all revised submissions via the link in the e-mail you received informing you of the decision and asking you to make the revisions.

When submitting a revised article, we require you to upload the revised PDF file (deleting the original version) and your latest set of source files used to create the revised PDF. In addition you will need to submit your point-by-point response to the referees. You will subsequently be asked to complete and submit the online assignment of copyright form, if you have not done so already.

If you experience any problems submitting your article online, please contact the journal team for assistance.

Source file preparation

The guidelines below provide the essential information you need to prepare your article source files (i.e. the files that you used to create your complete PDF).

Naming your files

Please name all your files according to the following guidelines:

  • use only characters from the set a to z, A to Z, 0 to 9 and underscore (_);
  • do not use spaces in file names;
  • include an extension to indicate the file type (for example, .doc, .txt, .eps, etc.);
  • do not use any accented characters (for example, à, ê, ñ, ö, ý, etc.) because these can cause difficulties when processing your files.

In addition to the above points, please give figure files names which indicate the numbers of the figures they contain; for example, figure1.eps, figure2.tif, figure2a.gif, etc. If a figure file contains a figure with multiple parts, for example figure 2(a) to 2(e), give it a name such as figure2a_2e.jpg, and so forth.

Article text files

TeX and LaTeX

The text of articles may be submitted in any common variant of TeX including LaTeX 2e, REVTeX, AmSTeX, AmSLaTeX and plain TeX.

LaTeX guidelines and class file

A LaTeX2e class file together with full documentation is available to help authors prepare articles for consideration by IOP Journals. Using the IOP class file will help to speed the publication of accepted articles.

The files are available in zipped format for use on a PC, Unix tar gzipped format and as a Stuffit file for use on a Mac.

  1. PKzip format
  2. Unix tar compressed format

Microsoft Word

  • We are able to receive articles prepared using Microsoft Word for Windows or Mac.
  • Fonts used should be restricted to the standard font families (Times, Helvetica, Courier or Symbol). For full details, please refer to our Word guidelines.
  • If special symbols are needed (e.g. Greek characters, accented characters or mathematical symbols) these should be typed using the appropriate TrueType font. Do not use the Symbol facility on the 'Insert' menu as this often results in font conversion problems.
  • Equations must be prepared using Microsoft Word Equation Editor or the full commercial MathType package.

Figure files

For articles prepared using LaTeX2e, please make sure that your figures are all supplied as vector Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) and linked to your main TeX files using appropriate figure inclusion commands such as \includegraphics. For articles prepared using Word, where possible please also supply all figures as separate graphics files (in addition to being embedded in the text). Our preferred graphics format is EPS. These files can be used directly to give high-quality results and file sizes are small in comparison with most bitmap forms. For information on how to avoid unnecessarily large bitmap files, and for full details, please refer to our graphics guidelines.

Vector formats
The advantage of vector graphics is that they give the best possible quality at all output resolutions.

In order to get the best possible results, please note the following important points:

  • Fonts used should be restricted to the standard font families (Times, Helvetica, Courier or Symbol).
  • If vector EPS files include bitmap information, the bitmap should conform to the specification given in the section in the graphics guidelines.
  • Certain proprietary vector graphics formats such as Origin, Kaleidagraph, Cricket Graph and Gnu Plot should not be sent in their native format. If you do use these applications to create your figures, please export them as EPS.

For full details, please refer to our graphics guidelines.

Archive and compress your files

Combine all your files (article text, graphics files and, if applicable, the readme.txt file) into a single compressed archive file for ease of handling and to save you time and space. IOP supports all common compression zip formats including tar+gzip. Please ensure that the archive file has the correct extension for the compression type. To upload this file type, use the upload zipped files field. If you have any difficulty archiving your files, please contact us for assistance (esubs@iop.org).

What we do with articles after acceptance

After acceptance your article will be copy-edited and typeset, using the source files that you have provided, and a proof will be produced.

Some of our journals offer the option to make the accepted manuscript version available within 24 hours of acceptance. For further information on this process, and which of our journals offer this option, please visit our FAQs here: http://iopscience.iop.org/page/acceptedmanuscripts.

Please note that in exceptional circumstances, we reserve the right to withdraw acceptance of an article at any time before publishing.

Proofs

We will contact you by e-mail when the PDF proof of your article is ready for you to check.

You should check your proof carefully and return corrections using the web page provided. This is the most efficient way to send them to us. Please supply an annotated PDF file using the strikethrough, replacement text and insert text functions. For other changes, please add a sticky note. Please ensure all changes are visible via the ‘Comments’ list in the annotated PDF so that your corrections are not missed.

Please do not resupply a new source file because it is difficult to identify corrections and some could be missed.

The ultimate responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of the published article rests with you. If proofs reach you during an absence of which we have not been informed, or if the proofs are not returned sufficiently quickly, we may publish the article without your corrections.

When checking your proofs you should take particular care checking mathematics, tables and references. Only essential corrections should be made. You should provide new files if figures need correction. We recommend that you check the accuracy of your original diagrams very carefully before submission; we cannot accept responsibility for any errors in original diagrams.

Reprints

Reprints can be purchased directly from the article abstract in IOPscience via the “Buy this article in print” link within the Article Information section. For orders in excess of 250 copies, please contact pod@iop.org.

Downloads

We will e-mail to let you know if your article receives a large number of downloads within three months of publication, or if it is one of our most downloaded articles of the year. If you would prefer not to receive these e-mails, please write to us at the journal e-mail address.

Copyright and permissions

Transfer of copyright

We request that authors transfer (assign) the copyright in their articles to IOP (or to the relevant publishing partner) before publication. This ensures that we have the right to work with, reproduce and to make your article available to readers. This is the case whether you have chosen to publish on a subscription-only or on a gold open access basis.

Following the submission of your article we will ask you to electronically submit an Assignment of Copyright form via the Author Centre.

The assignment of copyright in your article is effective only from the date on which the article is accepted for publication. If you withdraw your article, or if it is not accepted, the transfer does not take effect.

The main features of the copyright assignment are that:

  • authors transfer the worldwide copyright in their work to IOP Publishing in all formats and media;
  • authors assert their moral right to be identified as the authors of the article;
  • for subscription-only articles, IOP grants back to authors certain rights for the future use of their own work, for example self-archiving rights; for full details please see the Copyright FAQ;
  • authors of gold open access articles will have the same rights as all third parties – those described in the relevant Creative Commons licence; in most cases, this will be the CC-BY licence;
  • provision is made for situations where copyright is owned by an author’s employer as well as for government employees; in the case of multi-author articles, only one author should submit the form but he or she should have obtained the verbal agreement of all the other authors beforehand.

As well as addressing matters of copyright, the form contains assertions that all authors have received the final version of the article, have agreed to it being submitted and that the content of the paper is not defamatory, fabricated or an infringement of third-party rights. IOP uses a single copyright form. Section 1 applies to authors submitting their work for subscription-only publication and Section 2 to those submitting for gold open access publication.

If you believe that the copyright form is not suitable for your circumstances, please contact copyright@iop.org or select the 'Other' option on the form.

Reproducing published material

If your article makes use of any previously published material (including short extracts or diagrams) then you must first obtain the written permission of the copyright owner (usually the publisher for material taken from journal or proceedings articles, and the author or their employer if the work is unpublished) before publishing your article. Some publishers will also require that you seek the permission of the original author. We ask authors to submit evidence that all the necessary permissions have been obtained beforehand, or that permission is not required, for example where the material is available under one of the Creative Commons licences. We do not perform this task for you.

Please use our permission request form to ensure that you include all relevant details when approaching copyright holders.

You may find this Introduction to Copyright and Licensing useful in answering any queries you have. If you have further questions, please contact copyright@iop.org.

Which journals these guidelines apply to

These guidelines are applicable to the journals listed below. For guidelines specific to other partner journals, including the American Astronomical Society titles, please consult those journal’s respective homepages. Journal homepages can be accessed from iopscience.iop.org/journals.