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.