EDP Sciences

Paper organization

Ethical issues | Data policy | Manuscript categories | About the language | Paper organization


Astronomy & Astrophysics publishes new results of astronomical and astrophysical research. Details about the current A&A editorial policy can be found in the editorial published in A&A 420(3), E1-E14 (2004).

Manuscripts submitted for publication to A&A should not be submitted to any other refereed journal, but can be sent to preprint servers such as astro-ph. By submitting a manuscript to A&A, the corresponding author explicitly states that the work is original and that all co-authors have read the manuscript and agree with its contents. A&A Editors expect to be informed when a submitted manuscript has previously been rejected by another Journal.

See PDF version of the A&A Author's guide.

Ethical issues: the A&A policy concerning plagiarism and improper attribution

Plagiarism is the severest ethical problem encountered by A&A Editors. It is defined as the act of reproducing text or other content from works written by others without giving proper credit to the source of that content. Note that citing a text literally is not the only condition for determining plagiarism, which also includes any paraphrased text that discusses an already published idea without citing its original source.

Plagiarism is a major ethical breach and may also constitute a legal breach of copyright if the reproduced material has already been published. This is particularly true when authors cite text from their own previously published works. A&A Editors refer to this as “self-plagiarism”.

Authors who wish to quote directly from other published work must cite the original reference and include any cited text in quotation marks. Figures may only be reproduced with permission and must be cited in the figure caption. Because A&A focuses on publishing original research results, authors are discouraged from using direct quotations of previously published papers and figures. A citation and brief discussion of previous results in the context of the submitted paper is usually more relevant than direct quotation.

Papers published in A&A should cite previously published papers that are directly relevant to the results being presented. Improper attribution — i.e., the deliberate refusal to cite prior, corroborating, or contradicting results — represents an ethical breach comparable to plagiarism.

Plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and improper attribution can result in the summary rejection of a manuscript submitted to A&A. In the severest cases of plagiarism, offending authors can be banned from publishing in A&A for a determinate period of time. In such cases, the Editor in Chief can also inform the Editors in Chief of the other professional astronomy journals of the author’s ethical misconduct.

Data policy

It is mandatory for A&A authors to publish the data that are presented and discussed in articles and needed to reproduce the results. Archiving the data also increases the value of the article, and thus its impact in the community. Publication of the data, usually at the CDS (see below), should occur immediately upon acceptance of the article referencing them. Some common examples of data that must be archived are the measurements of radial velocities leading to the detection of planetary or stellar companions to stars, the photometric data used in asteroseismologic studies, etc. By data, we mean here not only primary observational material, but also tools of general interest such as catalogs, theoretical tables of lasting values, etc.

Whenever the primary observational data (e.g., the spectrograms that were used for determining radial velocities or redshifts) are archived at a facility such as ESO or HST and therefore publicly available, there is no need for authors to provide them to A&A; in this case, we'll archive only the reduced data (i.e., the radial velocities and the reduced photometric data in the examples given above). When primary data presented in articles are not publicly available through an institutional archive (e.g., the IRAM spectroscopic data), the calibrated data will be archived at the CDS.

By contract with A&A, the CDS stores the data that are published in A&A articles and graciously puts them at the disposal of the global community. The data are also linked to the general purpose data mining tools developed at the CDS and to the published articles through the ADS. The CDS requires the data tables to be in ascii format and each table is accompanied by a readme.txt file that describes the table’s content. The readme file format defines a standard that is used by all major astronomy journals. Primary data can also be archived at the CDS as graphics files in FITS format. This is of particular interest for spectrograms. At this point, no other formats than ascii and FITS are supported by the CDS for A&A data. Also by contract with the Journal, CDS provides help to A&A authors in order to prepare the archival files.

Manuscript categories

There are different kinds of manuscripts published in A&A, all of them must be written in English and formatted in LaTeX2e using the current A&A macro package. Submissions and manuscript follow-up are made via the A&A Manuscript Management System.

  • Letters to the Editor

Important new results that require rapid publication can be submitted as Letters, which are restricted in length to 4 printed pages. Letters are usually published within 4-8 weeks of acceptance.

  • Regular papers

Regular papers submitted to A&A should present new astronomical results or ideas of sufficient interest to the community as concisely as possible.

  • Other submissions

Errata concerning published A&A papers must be sent directly to the editorial office for consideration by the Editor in Chief.

Comments are usually not published by A&A, except in exceptional cases. Three conditions are necessary for a comment to be considered for publication (a) it refers to a paper published by A&A, (b) it does unambiguously solve the problem or question it raises, and (c) its publication will be useful to the community. Comments should also be sent directly to the editorial office.

The A&A sections

The current A&A sections are as follows.

  1. Letters*
  2. Astrophysical processes
  3. Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)
  4. Extragalactic astronomy
  5. Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations
  6. Interstellar and circumstellar matter
  7. Stellar structure and evolution
  8. Stellar atmospheres
  9. The Sun
  10. Planets and planetary systems
  11. Celestial mechanics and astrometry
  12. Atomic, molecular, and nuclear data*
  13. Astronomical instrumentation*
  14. Catalogs and data*
  15. Numerical methods and codes*

* Free access at no cost

Sections 12-15 of A&A have topics of potential use by a wide range of astronomers. Thanks to the generosity of our publisher, who provides free access to these sections and to A&A Letters, these important parts of our Journal are freely available to the worldwide community of astronomers.

Note concerning papers submitted for Section 13

Recognizing the importance of state-of-the-art instrumentation, the A&A Board of Directors has decided to develop the corresponding journal section, thus aiming at making A&A a reference journal also for astronomers whose main interest is instrumentation. We therefore introduce hereby the new editorial policy concerning these papers. In Section 13, we will now publish papers that describe:

  • new concepts and ideas that might lead to actual future instruments,
  • crucial instrumental developments in ongoing ground-based or space projects,
  • studies that are essential to the preparation of large instrumental projects,
  • ground-breaking data processing and mining methods,

provided these works report a significant advance on current capabilities and are of interest to a sizable fraction of the community.

Compared to our previous editorial policy for Sect. 13, the main change is that we no longer request that papers describing instruments and related studies also present astronomical results. Details on this new policy can be found in the editorial published in A&A 459, E3 (2006).

About the language

Most papers in A&A have been written by non-native English speakers. Authors with a limited experience of English are strongly recommended to find help in writing their papers, preferably from a native-speaking colleague. It is the policy of A&A to hold the authors responsible for a correct formulation of their text. A&A offers help, but only after the scientific content of a manuscript has been judged to be sufficient for publication, so it should be understandable before it is sent to a referee. If necessary, the editor will send back poorly written submissions to the author with a request for an initial revision of the language by a native English speaker. Some