highlights from 2019

Shaping the future of
physical science communications

IOP Publishing – Did you know?

Almost half of all the world’s Nobel Prize-winners in physics have published articles with us.
83% of our journals saw an impact factor increase in 2019
As a society publisher, 100% of the financial surplus that we make goes directly to the Institute of Physics to support their mission to advance physics for the benefit of society, to meet global challenges, and to develop the future generation of scientists
We launched the first fully open access journal in physics, New Journal of Physics, in 1998
Our journals publish articles across 40 subject areas, reaching beyond physics and into medicine, mathematics, earth science, neuroscience, biophysics, chemistry and engineering, to name just a few
We publish 27 journals in the top quartile for impact factor and 50 in the top two quartiles for impact factor
For authors publishing in our gold open access journals, we offer waivers and discounts to lower-income countries

We have more than 3,000 editorial board members in 50 countries

Researchers from 180 countries downloaded journal articles from our content platform IOPscience in 2019

Two articles are downloaded from IOP Publishing journals every second

An overview from Steve Hall,
Managing Director

Shaping the future of physical science communications

2019 was another year of challenge for scholarly communications. At IOP Publishing we sought further to improve our services to researchers, reviewers, editors and our publishing partners, while at the same time meeting the demands from funders and universities for greater open access.

The debate on how to accelerate the growth of open access continues unabated. We have been an open access publisher for more than 20 years, and in the last few years have very significantly increased the open access publishing options for our authors. We have made almost all of our subscription journals hybrid, built up our portfolio of fully open journals to 14 by the end of last year, and made “transformative agreements” that enable all authors at an institution or in a country to publish on an open access basis in our journals. We have continued to argue that high-quality research demands high-quality peer review, and that in any transition to a dominant open access model the costs of that high-quality peer review must be met. The demands from some funders and universities for immediate green open access under CC BY licences imply that there is no cost in high-quality peer review, or that our investment in the management of peer review and the development of strong journals can simply be appropriated. We must resist that notion and argue for the gold open access model, and for funding arrangements that enable research-intensive institutions themselves to transition to open access publication of their researchers’ outputs.

During 2019, we negotiated or renewed transformative agreements, in a variety of forms, in 10 countries. More will be agreed in 2020. These agreements combine licensed access to our journals with open access publishing by authors at participating institutions. In some countries, including Austria, Norway and Sweden, we are now publishing close to 100% of eligible articles on an open access basis. They require a great deal of effort on our part to make them work effectively, but we believe that effort is worth it. During 2020, we aim to work with our partners to bring as many of their journals as possible into such agreements from the start of 2021.

The introduction of our Open Physics initiative has been another important development, setting out our commitment to access, transparency and inclusivity. Open Physics focuses on how we disseminate high-quality research, increase its visibility, and encourage reproducibility and access to data. It is also our promise to ensure inclusivity and improve diversity at every step of the publishing process.

Genuine diversity, inclusion and equality in research means better science. It’s not a numbers game, it’s not about ticking boxes or achieving quotas. As publishers, we need to ensure that our contributors represent the diversity of the physical science community. But to make the most of that diversity, at every step of our publishing process we need to be certain that everyone is treated equally and that the same opportunities are available to all. Over the last 12 months, following a rigorous study of our practices, we have introduced a number of new initiatives, including trialling transparent peer reviews on a number of our journals and setting stretching targets for the gender and geographic diversity of our reviewers. We will be rolling out some exciting new initiatives in support of better peer review during 2020.

Partnerships with other societies remain central to our mission. In June, we were delighted to announce that The Electrochemical society (ECS) had chosen to publish its journals with us, including the most respected journal in its field, the Journal of The Electrochemical Society. Complementing our existing applied physics programme, the ECS Digital Library went live on our IOPscience platform at the start of 2020.

We exist as publishers to ensure that there is trust in scientific research and advance scientific discovery through its widest dissemination. This report details how we have contributed to that in 2019. We have done so through the professionalism, commitment and sheer hard work of our colleagues and all those they work with – authors, reviewers, editorial boards, librarians and partner organisations. I thank you all for your loyalty and support.

Steven Hall,
Managing Director, IOP Publishing


Open Physics – our commitment to
improving access, transparency and inclusivity


We recognise the incredible value and impact of scientific research and, at IOP Publishing, we believe that wider and faster access to this trusted source of knowledge is key to accelerating scientific discovery.
Daniel Keirs, Associate Director, Journal Strategy

Increasing our range of high-quality, open access journals

To further expand access to research, we need to be focused on growing the amount and the proportion of open access articles in our journals every year. We now offer an open access option in all of our primary research journals, including 14 journals that exclusively publish on a gold open access basis.

New OA journals launched in 2019 include:


An interdisciplinary and fully open access journal publishing the most exciting and significant developments across all areas of complex systems and networks.


A multidisciplinary, open access journal publishing research of the highest quality relating to the application and development of machine learning for the sciences.


An open access journal devoted to recent developments, discoveries, and theories in planetary science.


A new multidisciplinary journal uniquely covering the areas related to extreme manufacturing.


A multidisciplinary, open access journal devoted to the rapid publication of new experimental, theoretical and applied research extending across all areas of nanoscale science and technology.


An open access journal dedicated to the rapid publication of shorter research outputs across the physical and environmental sciences

Materials Research Express
We also announced the transition of our largest journal, Materials Research Express, to a fully open access publication model with effect from the 2020 volume.

Open access in numbers

We now publish 14 fully open access journals
The number of submissions to our fully open access journals increased by more than 70% in 2019
The IOP Conference Series journals published more than 63,000 open access papers

Accelerating the transition to open access through transformative agreements

Transformative agreements are key to accelerating open access growth. We now have licensing agreements in place in 10 countries worldwide.

  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • UK
  • the Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Saudi Arabia

Promoting open data sharing

To encourage wider sharing of research data we announced a new open data policy pilot on three of our journals; Environmental Research Letters, JPhys: Complexity, and Machine Learning: Science and Technology. The policy requires all published articles to include Data Availability Statements (DAS) stating whether the data is publicly accessible and, if so, its location using a persistent and unique identifier.

Enabling transparent peer review

We provide a high-quality peer-review experience, with more than 60 staff across our global offices dedicated to managing the process.

We believe that peer review itself can become more open to allow others to see the expertise, rigour and discussion that go into a decision to publish an article. We have introduced a model called transparent peer review for Environmental Research Letters, JPhys: Materials and Journal of Neural Engineering, as a choice for our authors and reviewers. The move will bring more visibility to the process, as well as improving quality and reducing bias.

Embedding equality, diversity and inclusion into everything we do

We made significant progress towards ensuring that our publishing options are as accessible to as many researchers as possible. We have established a diversity and inclusion committee; introduced a gender-neutral title option on our peer-review account creation form; provided guidance for reviewers and training for our in-house editorial staff on unconscious bias; and continued a double-blind peer- review option on several of our journals.

Key achievements for 2019 include:

The appointment of a Research Integrity & Inclusion Manager to develop a long-term plan and drive our diversity and inclusion work
Becoming a Friend of the GENERA Network (a group of organisations committed to gender equality in physics research)
Agreed targets to help diversify our editorial boards, including increased representation of women and researchers from China and India

Ensuring the highest standards in publication ethics

We are one of the few publishers to have a dedicated in-house Research Integrity Panel. The panel consists of staff trained in the very highest standards of publication ethics, and works to support authors, reviewers and our editorial board members. Its main goals are ensuring that our policies and procedures continue to adhere to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines, and resolving complaints and disputes on authorship and other ethical matters.

The creation of a Research Integrity Panel to oversee all allegations of misconduct
We put our ethical policy through the COPE audit and made a number of updates, making our policies significantly clearer and more robust
We investigated more than 130 allegations of misconduct in 2019, which have led to one misconduct-related retraction


Our contribution to open physics combines an evolving programme of publications, activities and policies that we believe will not only encourage and support increased access, transparency and inclusivity but do so in ways and timeframes that will serve the needs of the global physical science community. Find out more





Successful publishing partnerships, built on trust


Our publishing partners benefit from our scale, reach, specialist expertise and resources as an international society publisher. We now collaborate with more than 30 societies and scientific organisations to help them fulfil their objectives and missions.
Antonia Seymour, Publishing Director

In June, we announced a new partnership with The Electrochemical Society (ECS) to publish and host their most respected current and archive journals, conference proceedings, abstracts and magazine:

JES Cover

The flagship journal of The ECS. Published continuously from 1902 to the present, JES remains one of the most highly-cited journals in electrochemistry and solid-state science and technology.

ECS Cover

Covers fundamental and applied areas of solid-state science and technology, including experimental and theoretical aspects of the chemistry, and physics of materials and devices.

ECS transactions

The official conference proceedings publication of The ECS, features full-text content of proceedings from ECS meetings and ECS-sponsored meetings.


Contains extended abstracts of the technical papers presented at the ECS biannual meetings and ECS-sponsored meetings.


Now preserved as an archive, it was dedicated to the rapid dissemination of peer-reviewed and concise research reports in fundamental and applied areas of electrochemical science and technology.


Now preserved as an archive, it was dedicated to the rapid dissemination of peer-reviewed and concise research reports in fundamental and applied areas of solid state science and technology.


Was the first rapid-publication electronic journal dedicated to covering the leading edge of research and development in the field of solid-state and electrochemical science and technology.


Contains papers presented in symposia at ECS and topical meetings, up until mid-2005.


“The ECS is very pleased to announce the launch of its publishing partnership with IOP Publishing. The ECS has a 117+ year reputation for creating outstanding, peer-reviewed periodicals, conference proceedings, and magazines. Together with our new publishing partner, IOP Publishing, we have over 200 years of experience providing outstanding publishing services for the scientific community. IOP Publishing shares our core values and long-standing commitment to ensure the technical quality of the works published, as well as the integrity and validity of the peer review that our community provides.”
Christopher Jannuzzi, executive director and CEO of the ECS

Impact factor increases for partners

Chinese Physics C+78% Metrologia+52% Russian Mathematical Surveys+49% European Journal of Physics+34% The Astronomical Journal+32%

AAS – The Planetary Science Journal
A fully gold open access journal, launched in December 2019 and dedicated exclusively to planetary science content, The Planetary Science Journal has been produced in a partnership between the American Astronomical Society and its Division for Planetary Sciences.

International Journal of Extreme Manufacturing
This new open access partner journal is supported by the Institute of Machinery Manufacturing Technology, China Academy of Engineering Physics; Dalian University of Technology; Fudan University; and the Research Center of Laser Fusion, China Academy of Engineering Physics.


Delivering impact, creating efficiencies and adding value


We publish a number of world-leading specialist titles in a physical science portfolio that now extends across physics, materials science, astronomy and astrophysics, bioscience and environmental science. Our content programme has grown significantly this year as we continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of the research community.
Tim Smith, Associate Director, Journal Product Development

New journal launches

In addition to new partner journals, in 2019 we announced the launch of five new IOP journals. Each title was developed in consultation with the research communities that they will serve, and collectively represent a continued diversification of our coverage across the physical sciences:


A broad, multidisciplinary journal devoted to publishing new experimental and theoretical research covering topics extending across all areas of engineering science including interdisciplinary fields.


An interdisciplinary and fully open access journal publishing the most exciting and significant developments across all areas of complex systems and networks.


A multidisciplinary, open access journal publishing research of the highest quality relating to the application and development of machine learning for the sciences.


An open access journal devoted to recent developments, discoveries, and theories in planetary science.


A new multidisciplinary journal uniquely covering the areas related to extreme manufacturing.


A multidisciplinary, open access journal devoted to the rapid publication of new experimental, theoretical and applied research extending across all areas of nanoscale science and technology.


An open access journal dedicated to the rapid publication of shorter research outputs across the physical and environmental sciences

Impact Factors

2019 saw the impact factor increase for more than 80% of our journals, and our programme now boasts 27 journals in the top quartile.

Creating efficiencies in the research process


We are dedicated to achieving fast publication times without compromising on service or quality. Our refreshed our Publishing Support portal in 2019 to ensure that it continues to provide free advice on getting work published in journals, ebooks or conference proceedings, while our ‘Track my article’ service help authors quickly and easily review the status of their submitted manuscripts. We are continually looking for ways to improve our processes and services.
Marc Gillett, Head of Publishing Operations

Time to first decision: 22 days

Time to acceptance: 84 days

Time from acceptance to publication: 24 days

Our Track my article service has been used more than one million times since launch in 2018

Enhancing the performance of our content platform


Ensuring the functionality, accessibility, performance and security of IOPscience, our online content platform, remains a priority. We’re focused on making the most of new technologies, and continually improving and making refinements to make it easier to find exactly what users need, when they need it, in the format that suits them best.
Bridget Pairaudeau, IT Director

Maximising discoverability

Throughout the year we have made a number of improvements to ensure that relevant content is found quickly and easily. We have fine-tuned the indexing and ranking within search engines, with a particular focus this year on Google Scholar, and significantly reduced the page-loading speeds on our content platform, most notably in China.


The platform achieves excellent levels of web accessibility for users while maintaining the highest standards of performance, and complies with the AA-level of the Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines.


We enhanced our cybersecurity by modernising our firewall and robot protection technology to protect from IT risks and increase cyber resilience, while maintaining functionality and performance of our platform.

Growing our ebook and Conference Series programmes

quotemark-10 david mcdade

Our ebook and Conference Series programmes continue to thrive. 2019 saw more titles than ever added to our ebook portfolio, and demand for the content remained high, with more than one million chapters downloaded. The number of articles in our open access Conference Series journals grew by more than 57% this year, publishing research presented and discussed at prestigious conferences in physics and related subjects around the world.
David McDade, Associate Director, Ebooks and Conference Proceedings


Our ebook collection now features almost 500 titles in 16 subject areas spanning physics, astronomy, materials science and the biosciences. In 2019, we expanded our editorial team again, enabling us to work with our author communities to secure more new content for our forward programme than ever before.

2019 highlights included:

138 new ebook titles published

One million downloads for the second consecutive year

  • We published 138 new titles – more than in any other year since the programme’s launch
  • High demand for our ebook content was maintained with more than one million downloads for the second consecutive year
  • Our partner book series with the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), the Biophysical Society (BPS) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) continued to grow and new appointees to the editorial boards brought further subject expertise from around the world
  • Commissioning began on a new Quantum Technology series 
  • The final titles were published in an eight-volume graduate-level collection on Essential Advanced Physics by Konstantin Likharev – a significant addition to our collection

Conference Series

Our Conference Series titles are three of the largest journals in science and published more than 63,000 proceedings articles in 2019. The Series is indexed in SCOPUS and WOS Conference Proceedings Citation Index and offers fast production times and open access publishing across topics in physics, materials science, engineering, and earth and environmental sciences.

2019 highlights included:

  • Publishing volumes from the 10th International Particle Accelerator Conference
  • A series of United Nations conferences on the subject of sustainable buildings

Thought-provoking physical science coverage


Our science news programme represents a key part of our mission to communicate world-class research and innovation to the widest possible audience, ensuring thought-provoking coverage across a diverse range of subjects.
Olaf Ernst, Commercial Director

Physics World

As the world’s leading physics magazine, and a popular membership benefit of the Institute of Physics, the Physics World portfolio helps scientists working in academic and industrial research stay up to date with the latest breakthroughs in physics and interdisciplinary science. It does this through a unique mix of daily news, opinion and analysis from an award-winning team of science writers.

In 2019, the Physics World website received:

More than eight million page views
An average of more than 300,000 users per month

Physics World partnered with the American Physical Society (APS) to develop APS Careers 2020, an important resource to help people with a background in physics and related subjects make informed career decisions.


Recognising the contribution of outstanding scientists


It’s important to us that we acknowledge the significant commitment from outstanding scientists who lead academic progress worldwide. Our annual reviewer and top cited author awards acknowledge these vital contributions and show our appreciation. We also work with Publons to ensure researchers can claim credit for their work.
Elaine Tham, Associate Director, APAC and partnerships

Each year, our journal editorial teams select the best reviewers of the year based on the quality, quantity and timeliness of their reviews. From more than 100,000 reviews for IOP Publishing in 2018, we selected the top 1,244 reviewers from 67 different countries.


More than 18,000 reviewers were added into Publons during 2019
76,000 reviews were claimed for IOP Publishing titles in Publons
8.4/10 satisfaction rating for using the service

Top cited author awards in India and China

In China, 177 authors received the top cited award covering six categories – astronomy and astrophysics, biosciences, environmental sciences, materials, mathematics and physics. Between them, they received 4,558 citations from 2016 to 2018.
In India, the 34 winning authors’ work covered physics, materials, biosciences, astronomy and astrophysics, environmental science, and mathematical sciences. Between them, they received 797 citations from 2016 to 2018.

Our global footprint


We operate on a global scale, with a deep industry knowledge and a local cultural understanding that enables us to work closely with researchers worldwide to publish their groundbreaking work. Our aim is to cover the latest and best research in the physical sciences and beyond.
Antonia Seymour, Publishing Director

Worldwide visibility

Top 10 countries where out published authors are based
(Source: Web of Science 2019)

China28% USA16% India8% Japan7% Germany4% Russia4% UK3% Iran3% Rublic of Korea2% Italy2% ROW23%

Top downloading institutions in our top downloading countries
(Source: IOPscience 2019)

USA 5,411,045 China 5,336,766 Germany 2,190,211 UK 1,823,763 Japan 1,447,252

Building relationships in China

In March, Olaf Ernst, Commercial Director, and Oliver Callaghan, Finance Director met key customers NTSL and the Chinese Academy of Sciences consortium in Beijing.
Paul Hardaker, CEO of the Institute of Physics, and Antonia Seymour, Publishing Director, met the new President of the Chinese Physical Society, Prof. Jie Zhang and discussed closer collaborations between the two societies.

This year, we appointed Professor Qi-Kun Xue as our Chief Scientific Advisor for China. In the newly created role, Professor Xue will support us as we continue to strengthen relationships with the scientific community in China. He will advise on strategic engagement with key decision makers in government and the scientific community, and provide expert insight into political and institutional processes. He will also lead a new Science Advisory Board comprising distinguished academic and industry professionals.


Thanks to substantial investment, and the hard work and dedicated focus of its research community, China is at the forefront of science globally. I am very proud to be helping the Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing in their efforts to forge closer working relationships with the scientific community in China.
Professor Xue, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Professor Xue is currently Vice-President of Tsinghua University, Beijing, and President of Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences (BAQIS). He is also a Vice-President of the Chinese Physical Society.

He received his BSc from Shan-Dong University in 1984 and his PhD in condensed matter physics from the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOPCAS) in 1994.

His academic career began as a Research Associate at the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, Japan. He progressed to Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University in 1996. Xue received his professorship from IOPCAS in 1999 and moved to the Department of Physics, Tsinghua University, as a Distinguished Professor, in 2005.

In 2016, he was the first recipient of the Physical Science Award of the new Future Science Prize – China’s first non-governmental science award – for his groundbreaking discoveries of novel quantum phenomena using molecular beam epitaxy, including quantum anomalous Hall effect (QAHE) and monolayer FeSe superconductivity.

In February 2020 he was awarded the Fritz London Memorial Prize in recognition of his pioneering work on the experimental discovery of quantum anomalous Hall effect and edge channel in magnetic topological insulators.


Strengthening relationships with the scientific community


In 2019, we attended more than 200 international industry conferences and events to meet with authors, reviewers, librarians, funders and our journals and ebook board members.
Claire Webber, Associate Director, Content and Engagement Marketing

Library Advisory Boards

Seeking advice from the international library community helps us to shape our publishing programme. More than 150 librarians around the world have engaged with us through our Library Advisory Boards (LABs). In 2019, we extended our reach to include LAB in MENA, to complement those taking place in the APAC, EMEA and the USA.

The Library Advisory Board in India.

IOP Publishing Academy

Our Publishing Academy is a collection of educational resources and events that provide early career researchers in particular with guidance and support on the fundamentals of academic publishing. In 2019, we held 36 events worldwide, reaching more than 4,000 researchers.

Supporting physics teachers in Egypt

In March, with the Institute of Physics, we hosted a knowledge transfer with a delegation of Egyptian secondary school teachers of physics, led by the Egyptian Minister of Education, which met with UK counterparts to share their knowledge of physics teaching.

International industry conferences and events attended

IOP Publishing Academy workshops worldwide

IOP Publishing at the Frankfurter Buchmesse in October 2019.
IOP Publishing at the APS March Meeting in Boston.
Rob Bernstein and Maragaret Donnelly from IOP Publishing and Beth Craanen from The ECS, at the 236th ECS Meeting.

Global presence, local knowledge


Thank you for taking the time to read about all our achievements in 2019. If you would like further information about our publishing services, or have any questions about anything you’ve read in this report, please do get in touch.
Antonia Seymour, Publishing Director