APS News

Outstanding Referees Gain Overdue Recognition

Outstanding APS Referee Medal

The APS editorial office has begun a new program to recognize excellent referees for their service to APS journals. Starting this year, a number of referees will be selected as “Outstanding Referees.”

The peer review process depends on these anonymous volunteers, but their hard work has not until now been recognized.

“Peer review is really the pillar of the scholarly communication. We rely on these volunteers. Some of them have done outstanding work for us, and it really needs to be recognized,” said APS Editor-in-Chief Gene Sprouse.

The APS Council approved the new recognition program in November, and the first Outstanding Referees have been selected.

Under the new program, each year APS journal editors will choose for recognition a number of referees based on the number, timeliness, and quality of their referee reports. Good referees “have to know the field; they have to be fair, reasonable and knowledgeable,” said Sprouse.

Each year APS will recognize about 130 referees, or about one half of one percent of the referees in its database of active referees.  To initiate the Outstanding Referees program, 534 referees have been chosen this year.

Referees will be recognized for their service to any of the APS journals, and they do not have to be APS members to be eligible for the award. This year’s winners come from over 40 countries. The recognition will be a one-time award, and those selected are given the title “Outstanding Referee.”

Referees often see their work as a duty to the physics community. APS is now recognizing those who accept that obligation.

“I am very pleased that it was felt that I have made a contribution, and that I have been distinguished for a task which I assumed as an obligation to the physics community,” wrote one new Outstanding Referee.

Many referees work very hard to do a good job, and some are overburdened with requests to referee papers. One new Outstanding Referee wrote, “I am thrilled at the honor. But perhaps you can lighten the load a bit this year...”

The Outstanding Referees will receive a certificate and a lapel pin. They will be honored at the APS March and April Meeting Prize and Awards sessions. Their names will also be listed online and in the journals, though referees can choose not to be listed. 

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff