High Five for BABAR
By Monica Bobra
Only two particle physics experiments have published five individual papers in a single issue of the highly reputed journal Physical Review Letters (PRL). Both are B factories. SLAC’s BABAR and the Belle experiment at KEK achieved this remarkable milestone—Belle in 2003, BABAR in the July 22 issue.
“The articles span the full array of physics—from searches for exotic particles to the world’s best measurement of CP violation,” said BABAR spokesperson David MacFarlane (UCSD). “That reflects the breadth of physics we can address with the B Factory data set.”
Stanford University professor Pat Burchat first discovered the uncommonly high number of BABAR papers in PRL and quickly notified the rest of the 600 BABAR collaborators via Hypernews, an internal newsgroup that serves as one of the main communication mechanisms among BABAR scientists.
They produce some four papers a month to PRL and Physical Review D, both journals of the American Physical Society. To submit a paper in such journals, the analysis involved must go through a rigorous internal assessment managed by a Publications Board.
It all starts during the final phase an analysis, when the authors produce a detailed internal document describing the work, as well as a draft of the journal article. Both the internal note and the draft paper are reviewed by other BABAR scientists who are active within the same Analysis Working Group. Once it passes this stage, the document is handed over to a Review Committee, which also reviews the analysis and critiques the paper. Finally, the analysis and the paper are made available for a collaboration-wide review. Comments from international collaborators in all parts the world are provided to the authors via Hypernews along with author responses. After a final review by the Publications Board, the paper is sent off to the journal—which conducts its own rigorous critique, through third-party referees. It can take months, or in some cases as much as a year, before experimental results materialize in paper form within a physics journal.
All five PRL papers underwent this arduous process, designed to produce clear and coherent papers. “We’re very pleased to have achieved this unique milestone,” said MacFarlane.
“Five papers from one experiment in a single issue of PRL is quite a feat,” says Persis Drell, Director of Particle and Particle Astrophysics at SLAC. “BABAR has been steadily producing an average of a paper a week for the last two years. That illustrates the tremendous scientific productivity of the collaboration. Getting five papers in one issue takes a little luck as well!”