APS News

August/September 2018 (Volume 27, Number 8)

Interdisciplinary Excellence

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By the Editors of PRE

This year, Physical Review E (PRE) is celebrating 25 years of publishing, along with the entire Physical Review family of journals, which is marking its 125th anniversary. The PRE story began in January 1993, when the burgeoning Physical Review A (General Physics) was split into two: Physical Review A (Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics) and Physical Review E (Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics).

Since then, PRE has continued the editorial philosophy of the founding editor, Irwin Oppenheim, by publishing research from emerging areas, nontraditional fields, and authors who are new to the Physical Review journals. To acknowledge his work, APS has announced a new honor, the first of its kind: the Irwin Oppenheim Award for best paper in PRE by young investigators. The award will recognize outstanding contributions to physics by early career researchers who publish in PRE. Appropriately this new initiative recognizes a visionary and inspiring editor who embraced the interdisciplinary nature of the journal.

PRE 25th Anniversary

The birth of PRE was preceded by rapid growth in statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics. An entire generation of physicists studying topical areas such as renormalization group theory, critical phenomena, and chaos chose the journal to be their premier publication. PRE doubled in size in its first 10 years, with subsequent growth in soft matter and biological physics, and later complex systems and networks. Arguably, the emergence of entire fields of research including colloids, granular materials, and liquid crystals would not have been possible without PRE. Since its inception, PRE has published over 50,000 articles and these articles have garnered over 1 million citations.

PRE covers collective phenomena of many-body systems. The journal faithfully serves overlapping communities dealing with statistical and nonlinear physics, biological physics, and soft matter. And as these communities have evolved, so has the journal. For example, two years ago PRE added a new section in solid mechanics as this classical subject is experiencing a revival of interest among nonlinear, statistical, and soft matter physics researchers. Active matter, the study of self-propelled and self-organizing objects, is another recent addition to the table of contents. To better serve the community, the journal subtitle has changed twice, and to better organize its content, section titles have been updated about once per year. At the same time, sections of the journal that are aligned with units of the American Physical Society including computational physics, polymers, biological physics, plasma physics, and fluid dynamics have been stable over the years.

PRE is unique in that the theme that binds the journal together is not a single specific subject area, but rather an approach that often involves a statistical component. Typically, a PRE author may publish in multiple sections and on multiple topics, and there is a clear community corresponding to the journal. The journal's author and referee base is overwhelmingly international, and appropriately, about one half of the PRE editors are based outside the U.S., and the journal’s editorial board spans 15 countries and five continents.

With its broad coverage, PRE relies primarily on editors who are active researchers, typically scientists who are internationally recognized in their respective fields of research. Many sections in PRE are managed by a single editor who is an expert in that area. PRE has benefited from having experienced editors: two of them, plasma physics editor Brant Johnson and nonlinear dynamics editor Antonio Politi, have served for over twenty years. Remarkably, the average and the median tenure of PRE editors exceeds ten years. The journal also benefits from the dedication of a small team of full-time editorial staff, who are located at the APS editorial office in Ridge, New York.

To call attention to papers of outstanding quality or to especially interesting results, the journal has highlighting mechanisms such as Editors' Suggestions, trending articles, and spotlights on emerging research areas. Exceptional articles are covered by the APS publication Physics. Influential papers from the past 25 years are currently being featured in a collection of anniversary milestones. These milestone papers include classics on such topics as the lattice Boltzmann method, fluctuation theorems, flocking, jamming, and random graphs (available at the Physical Review E 25th Anniversary Milestones page).

With all the changes over the years, one thing has remained constant at PRE: as with the rest of the journals in the Physical Review family: our acceptance criterion that manuscripts must report significant advances in physics. While maintaining these editorial standards, we will keep striving to improve the journal, to keep the journal agile and responsive to the needs of the community. We welcome feedback from all of our authors, readers, and referees at pre@aps.org.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik

August/September 2018 (Volume 27, Number 8)

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Articles in this Issue
2018 APS General Election Results
An Evolving and Leading-edge Journal with a Rich History
Interdisciplinary Excellence
2019 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research Awarded to Bertrand I. Halperin
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This Month in Physics History
News from the APS Office of Government Affairs
FYI: Science Policy News from AIP
Education and Diversity News
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