APS Policy on Peer Review Materials
By Michael Riordan, Forum Councilor
At the November 2009 meeting of the APS Council, Roger Stuewer moved that the APS establish a committee to make recommendations regarding release of peer-review materials on articles submitted to its journals. He noted that the APS did not then have an official policy regarding such release to scholarly researchers, and that it was largely left to the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief.
In the following months, a committee chaired by Forum member Robert Crease of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and including current Forum Chair Daniel Kleppner, formulated a formal policy statement, which was approved unanimously by the Council at its 18 April 2010 meeting. This statement can be accessed on the APS web site.
Briefly, it states that peer-review materials will not normally be released until 50 years have lapsed. No materials that identify living individuals will be released without their written consent. Exceptions can be made only at the discretion of the APS Editor-in-Chief.
The Council agreed that this policy represents a fair compromise between the needs of historians for access to this information and the requirements of the APS publishing department to protect the confidentiality of its reviewers.
Note Added: This article represents the views of the author, which are not necessarily those of the FHP or APS.