Guidelines for Authors
Submission: Authors are only required to supply the arXiv reference of the pre-print (which must be posted to or at least cross-listed with quant-ph). Authors are encouraged to suggest a handling editor and may also suggest referees and provide supplementary files. To submit a work to Quantum, follow the instructions in the box below. There is no fee upon submission.
Format: There are no typesetting, format or length constraints. Nevertheless, please state clearly, at some point in the first couple of pages, the main results and assumptions of the manuscript (for example, in a “Contributions” subsection in the Introduction). This improves the paper for the benefit of all readers, and helps our editors judge the suitability of the paper for Quantum; if you’re not sure of the level of detail you should aim for in that summary, consult Quantum’s list of editors, and imagine that you’re addressing the 2-3 editors closest to the topic of your manuscript. Cover letters are not necessary, as Quantum expects manuscripts to speak for themselves. Reviews should contain the word “review” in the title and state the intended target audience in the abstract.
Template: Authors are encouraged to use the Quantum document class for typesetting the final version, ensuring a consistent look while providing maximal compatibility with existing LaTeX document classes. This is however not mandatory.
The Quantum document class and a template document with further instructions is available on github, CTAN, and via the following direct download links:
- you have the permission of all co-authors and other right holders to pursue publication of the work in Quantum,
- you are not infringing on anyone’s copyright with the material contained in your work,
- you will be fully liable for any charges resulting from copyright infringement, and
- you will not submit this work to any other publishing venue unless it is terminally rejected by Quantum.
- the work is not currently under consideration at and has not previously been published in any other journal.
In addition, authors, referees and members of all boards of Quantum commit to follow the Code of Conduct laid out in the terms and conditions.
What: Quantum is a highly selective journal, publishing original research and reviews (theoretical, experimental, and numerical), as well as works showcasing the utility of new software for quantum science.
Acceptance criteria: Quantum aims to select:
- Original research that:
- Significantly advances the particular sub-field of quantum science
- Contains a very significant technical or conceptual contribution
- Provides evidence that the employed methods or obtained results go significantly beyond the state of the art
- Reviews that:
- Address a need for a standard reference on a topic or fill a gap in the literature
- Summarize a coherent body of knowledge in a way that facilitates further progress
- Cover the relevant literature comprehensively and concisely
- Software showcases that:
- Introduces a software package that uses novel methodology or programming paradigms to address a significant scientific challenge, and/or provides a general and extensible framework designed to facilitate further progress in the field
- Empirically demonstrates that such software has capabilities that clearly go beyond the state of the art in the solution and analysis of the problems it addresses
Acceptance threshold: Correct but incremental work is below threshold and an absence of negative reviews is not in itself sufficient for acceptance; referees should make a case for why a work deserves to be published. Submissions are judged based on the following editorial criteria:
- Technical correctness
- Significance of the contribution
- Clarity of presentation and verifiability/reproducaibility
- Honest statement of scope and limitations
Not taken into account are:
- Expected number of citations.
- Wide scope / whether a work is aiming at a broad or interdisciplinary audience.
Quantum reserves the right to desk reject a work in case the editors have substantial doubt whether it meets the acceptance criteria and would thus be unlikely to make it through peer-review.
Open source policy: Quantum strongly encourages authors to publish their data and code under a FOSS license whenever possible. The open-source nature of software projects will be taken into account positively when making editorial decisions. If inspecting the source code or data is necessary to judge a work, such access must be given to editors and referees anonymously and free of charge, at the editors’ request (even if it is not publicly available for the community). If there is any reason why authors cannot provide access, they should inform the editors, and the subject will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
- For research papers, we highly encourage publishing under a FOSS license raw and plotted data, as well as code that was used to analyse data and do simulations.
- For software showcase papers, access to the software must be provided to the whole community in a way that is compatible with the requirement of significantly advancing the field. In most cases this will mean that most of the code and data should be available be under a FOSS license. Exceptions can apply, for example to close-to-hardware drivers or control electronics.
Timeline and peer-review process
Expected timeline: Due to increased submission rates (around 80 papers per month for around 40 voluntary editors, as of January 2022), submissions are currently taking a long time to process. Referees and editors are full-time researchers and their volunteer work is not always recognized by their institutions or grant committees. Quantum respects the referees’ time and work and asks authors for some patience. To put some concrete numbers to this: it takes on average two weeks to assign a new submission to an expert editor (with high variance, depending on the field and availability of editors). It then takes on average two to three weeks for the editor to make a first decision (details below). If the paper is sent to additional external referees, it can take two to four months to collect all the necessary reports and make a decision. If that’s a “revise and resubmit”, authors can submit the new version at their own convenience (no deadlines), and then it can take one to two months for the final decision (faster if all referee and editorial concerns are addressed). When a paper is accepted, authors update the arXiv and fill in the publication form at their convenience. It then takes up to one week for the paper to be published. These numbers are highly variable: it tends to be slower for long, mathematically involved papers, as it’s harder to find referees, and they need more time to carefully check the correctness of the paper; other areas are experiencing a surge in papers (for example NISQ) and even if papers are short, referees and editors in those fields are handling too many submissions and the paper waits in queue for longer; there are slower periods over the year (like holiday season and conference review months); finally, the global pandemic has increased review times across all fields. Referees and editors are human, and the last two years have not been easy on humans; voluntary, unpaid and anonymous work is likely to suffer.
In the following we detail the steps of the peer review process at Quantum.
Assigning an editor and first reading: In a first step, our admins look for a Quantum editor who is an expert in the field of your manuscript and is currently available; it helps if authors list suitable editors by using the field “suggested referees”. Editors only accept to handle a paper if they are experts in the field (to the extent that they could comfortably act as referees for the paper) and are presently available. The editor then reads the paper: make sure that your main results and assumptions are listed clearly in the first couple of pages. Editors are not expected to read through proofs at this point, just the main text and statements, so that they can make a decision about suitability of the paper for Quantum; for very long papers, editors are only required to read the first few pages at this stage. Therefore it may help your submission if you aim the introduction at convincing an expert in the field of the value of your contributions (rather than an overly general overview, unless it is a very niche area).
Internal editorial review and first decision: After reading the manuscript, the editor makes a first decision of either (1) desk reject the paper, (2) send it back to authors for a revision, or (3) send it out to external referees for a thorough analysis. In the vast majority of cases, this first decision is discussed with several editors until there is a consensus on the merits of the paper and its suitability for Quantum. Let us go in more detail through the different options.
- Many papers are rejected at this phase, and these decisions cannot be appealed. Indeed, Quantum aims to make most rejections at this point, as to spare authors’ and referees’ time. If the paper is rejected, the editor will justify their decision in the rejection letter, which we hope will help the authors submit to another venue. Note that this is a decision based solely on the scientific merit of the paper, made by expert editors who are very familiar with both the topic and the journal’s acceptance thresholds. In other words, this phase of internal editorial review is a thorough expert peer review on itself.
- If the editors believe that the paper needs clarifications or some extra work before it can be published, they can either start a discussion with authors (usually for short clarifications) or make already a “revise and resubmit” decision at this point. For example, this happens if the editors judge that the paper could only make it to Quantum if a conjecture was proved, if the code was publicly available, or if presentation was improved.
- If the editors are convinced that the paper is already in good shape, and that its scientific contribution merits acceptance in Quantum, they send the paper to external referees for additional analysis. This could be a global review of the paper, or a more pointed check, for example “could you check the proofs of theorems 2-4?” or “how do these claims fit in with the work of X and Y?” Typically, a paper is only sent out to external referees if it has very good chances of being accepted after revisions, unless the referees find major problems. There are exceptions: sometimes none of the available editors has the expertise in the topic of the paper needed to make the first decision on its significance, and external referees are necessary to make that call; this is rare, and we react to repeated instances by recruiting more editors to cover that topic, but it can happen.
External review and second decision: When a paper goes out to external reviewers, we aim to obtain two independent referee reports. Depending on the field, the paper and external factors like the time of the year, this is not always attainable. Referees are given 1 month to review the paper but in practice it often takes longer, up to 2-4 months, to receive enough reports in order to make a well-founded editorial decision. If the decision is not clear after reports, the handling editor will again consult with other editors in the field. They may also write to the authors and referees for additional clarifications before making a decision. There are some rejections at this point, a few rare straight acceptance decisions, and the vast majority are a “revise and resubmit” where the editor explicitly states what needs to change for the paper to be published (sometimes this is “please address all comments by referees” but often it is “… and in particular you should correct the proof of lemma 4, clarify assumption 2 and cite the work of X appropriately”).
Additional rounds of review and final decision: When authors submit a revised version and response to referees, the editor decides whether the paper should (1) be accepted right away, if the changes are satisfying and there are only cosmetic comments left, (2) be rejected, if the previous concerns were ignored, (3) go back to the referees, in case the editor believes that referees should check by themselves. Again, the editor is encouraged to consult with other editorial board members in case of doubts.
Editorial decision and publication
Upon acceptance: Authors upload an approved final version of the manuscript to the arXiv, which will become the published version of the paper. The running costs of Quantum are covered through a voluntary fee (article processing charge). Please see the payment page for the applicable fees and payment methods.
DOI: For the final accepted version of the manuscript, DOI linking is mandatory. Quantum is a member of Crossref, therefore in all publications by Quantum all references to works that have a DOI must contain clickable hyper-links to the URLs under https://doi.org associated with the work’s DOI. A link to the publisher homepage is not sufficient. Also shortDOIs are unfortunately not accepted by Crossref. Works that do not have a DOI may, of course, be cited without giving a link. For more information on how to add appropriate links, please consult the latest version of the template of the Quantum document class.
Publication: The published work is given a DOI and is announced in Quantum. All works are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence and the final version must previously be uploaded to the arXiv by the authors under the same license. Publications in Quantum can be cited by volume and article number, and are indexed in the webofscience and on Google Scholar, so that citations count for citation metrics. Authors and other copyright holders retain the copyright on their works without restrictions.
Publicity: If provided by the authors, a non-technical abstract or popular summary is also released by Quantum and publicized in social media. For exceptional publications, the editor may ask a referee or external expert to write a short viewpoint about the paper.
Appeal: To submit an appeal against an editorial decision, please use the appeal form, on which you can also find further information on how appeals are handled.
Errata: Authors are strongly encouraged to notify Quantum of any corrections and modifications made to already published papers. Errata to papers published in Quantum can be uploaded by the authors as a new version to the arXiv. More detailed information can be found on our Crossmark policy page.
Name change policy: If your name has changed after your manuscripts’ publication, write us an email and we will change it everywhere on the website and in our systems. We recommend changing your name on the arXiv before [instructions here] but this is not necessary. If you have updated the arXiv version of your published papers, let us know.
Quantum will never ask you for “proof” of name change, notify your coauthors or list the previous name, unless you explicitly ask us to. We want to make this process as easy as possible for authors, so if you’ve gone through it please let us know if there’s anything we could improve.
The fastest way of getting your request processed is to email firstname.lastname@example.org, which forwards to the executive board (Christian Gogolin, Lídia del Rio and Marcus Huber) and to the two editorial assistants (who are not researchers). Alternatively, you can email any individual member of the executive board. In the latter case, whoever receives your email will keep it confidential even from the remaining members of the executive board, unless you explicitly tell us otherwise.
Some technicalities: we can change the name on the paper’s webpage, the paper’s pdf, the DOI metadata, and internal systems. We can also change it in the list of references of other papers published in Quantum that refer to yours. We cannot easily change it on Scholastica’s records (the external platform where the peer review process takes place, and which stores for example the reviews your paper received and editorial discussions). We contacted Scholastica, who told us that users can change their name by logging in to their account and changing it under “my profile”. The change should be reflected along the platform, but not on stored pdfs, or lists of authors if you weren’t the corresponding author. If it’s important to you not to have a record of the previous name even in this closed environment, we can ask to delete the manuscript from Scholastica, and just keep a record elsewhere of the review process with the correct name.