JGR Space Physics Mugs

I love handmade pottery. I especially like funky mugs, and I have about a dozen in my office. I also get paid to be your Editor in Chief for JGR Space Physics, and so I thought I would share my love of crafted mugs with the space physics community.

Behold, the inaugural “JGR Blue” mug:

JGR mug with copyright

I commissioned a local potter, Autumn Aslakson (silent “s” near the beginning, so it is pronounced Alexson), to make the mugs. They were made at The Potters Guild of Ann Arbor, Michigan:


and Autumn’s other work can be seen here:



She had to work hard to get the glaze correct for the logo, but I think they turned out very nicely.

I felt the need for a hand-crafted JGR mug and, well, it would be a travesty to have just one mug specially made. Plus, I think they make great gifts for all of those that make JGR Space Physics such an incredible journal. Initially, I am sending them to AGU HQ publications staff, the other Editors, and the big crew of Associate Editors.  For those of you in this recipient list: the first wave is going out tomorrow. We’ll see how else I feel like distributing them; perhaps to top authors or outstanding referees, I don’t know. With my plan to spread them across the globe, I will probably be back to order more from her in the future.

As a final, tangential, but related request: please support your local artisans this holiday shopping season!

Policy Change Regarding arXiv

I don’t usually (ever?) make two posts in a single day, but this breaking news deserves immediate dissemination to the space physics community. The AGU Council Leadership Team has approved a revision of the publication policy to allow preprint postings on arXiv! Please read the full policy statement here:


The revision is in the third paragraph, which now reads as follows:

“Previously published explicitly does not include oral or poster presentations, meeting abstracts or student theses/dissertations. AGU does allow posting of preprints and accepted papers in not-for-profit preprint servers that are designed to facilitate community engagement and discovery across the sciences.  Any other online publication with a service that provides archiving with citation protocols and public retrieval capabilities constitutes prior publication.”

By “not-for-profit preprint servers” they specifically mean arxiv.org and subservers related to it, like /astro-ph and /space-ph.

This change is, I think, being implemented because of feedback from the space physics community, in particular solar physicists. The message came through loud and clear that arXiv is a useful tool for sharing pre-publication science results, much like a conference but in written form, but that it is clearly understood by its users that it is not a replacement for publication in an archival, peer-reviewed journal. In fact, I am told that regular arXiv users know that if a preprint record is not eventually updated with a link to a final version in an archival journal, then the results should be treated with suspicion. Therefore, we should trust the community to use arXiv only as a preprint exchange of ideas and to keep sending manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals.

I especially like that it is open to upload at any time relative to submission/acceptance. I think this is critical because papers can be rejected from one journal and then resubmitted to another. There was discussion of allowing upload to arXiv only after submission (but still before acceptance). Uploading to arXiv at this point would be risky, then, if there is some chance that the initial journal could reject it. Subsequent “initial submissions” to a new journal would be after the arXiv upload. We have a hierarchy of AGU journals, where authors will first submit to GRL, then if rejected, modify it and submit it to JGR or Radio Science, and if rejected again, then they can now submit it to Earth and Space Science. The new policy allows upload to arXiv prior to initial submission because the submission might not actually be the first journal submission for that manuscript.

With a lot of input from you, the AGU Publications Committee heard the case for and against allowing preprints at arXiv and voted for full openness at this and similar not-for-profit, non-DOI-issuing sites. This was passed up the committee chain to the AGU Council, who approved it late last week. I would like to extend a special thank you to Brooks Hanson for shepherding this policy change request through the committee tree; it couldn’t have happened without his support. I would also like to thank all of you that responded to the calls for input on this subject, emailed me directly, or talked with me in person. The overwhelmingly positive feedback on arXiv usage made a significant difference in persuading people to vote for this change.

So, the ban is lifted! Please feel free to make full use of arXiv and submit preprints that have been uploaded to that site to JGR Space Physics.

Keeping Up With Special Collection Submissions

We have several open or just closing calls for papers for special collections right now. You can see the full list in the Call for Papers link in the right-hand column at the JGR-Space Physics website. There are actually 6 on the list right now. Some are recently closed, like the one on kappa distributions, which is turning into an excellent collection spanning across all realms of space physics. Then there is the Van Allen Probes prime mission collection, for which the deadline just went by this last weekend but it is still open at the GEMS website for a short bit longer. There were a lot of submissions this past week because of this deadline! Oh my goodness! There is another collection on the Cluster close separation campaigns that has a rapidly approaching deadline at the end of this week. I expect an influx of manuscripts for that in the days ahead. After that, we have a collection on long-term changes in the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and ionosphere, joint with JGR-Atmospheres, due at the end of the year, another on low-frequency waves in space plasmas due by the end of January, and a final open call right now on pulsating aurora that will be open through March. I look forward to seeing papers for these special collections come through the system.

This last week was a particularly heavy week for us with the Van Allen Probes special collection deadline. It was so much that it interrupted my own paper writing and I did not get a manuscript submitted to it by last Friday. I’ll have it ready soon and I still plan to submit it.

I got a bit behind this weekend because of computer issues. I bought a new iMac for my wife and it worked fine for the first few days. Then I powered it down to move it to a different location in the house, and upon restarting it, the computer refused to connect to the internet. It could see the Wifi network and, through the terminal prompt, could remotely connect to a laptop in the house, but could not see anything beyond that. Saturday and especially Sunday became a nightmarish struggle to think of new ways to test the problem and try to fix it. We searched for answers online and tried a number of different proposed fixes and nothing was working. Finally, late last night, we came across a terminal-prompt commanding sequence to “unload” and then “load” again this particular “plist” file buried in a system library. And it worked! Restarting the machine causes it to forget how to connect but now we have a two-line solution. I gave a big sigh of relief but also an angry growl at Apple. Their new operating system, Yosemite (Mac OS 10.10), is apparently not quite ready for full usage. The unload/load commands are not something we would have ever thought to do, and we are very grateful that we had another computer in the house to surf for this solution. I wasted a lot of time this weekend trying to get this working. Anyone else have problems with Yosemite?

Anyway, thank you for all of your submissions over the last week. There has been a steady uptick of new submissions in the last few months and, while I have not analyzed it thoroughly to directly link this to the calls, I am glad that the community is responding to our special collection calls for papers. Keep them coming!

Figure File Transfers in GEMS

There is a cool new feature in the GEM manuscript submission system of which I think people should be made aware. A quote from the page: “You are now able to transfer files from the previous version of your manuscript. If you have already uploaded individual files in publication-ready formats, you may bring them over to the revised submission.”

smiley     smiley     smiley     smiley     smiley

When authors are submitting a revised version of a manuscript, the “Upload Files” tab at the GEMS submission site will now have a table of files available for transfer from the previous version of the same paper. This list will include essentially everything except the manuscript text and responses to reviewers. The big things it will include are the figure files and the auxiliary material files. If the figure files are not being modified in the new version of your manuscript, then this new feature should save you time in uploading the revision.

Even if the figures are being renumbered, you can still transfer those that did not change. For instance, if you are inserting a new “Figure 1″ into the methodology section of your paper, but otherwise keeping all of the other figures the same, then you will only need to upload that new figure and not all of the others. The others can be transferred from the earlier version and simply renumbered/relabeled in the GEMS system.

I am rather excited about this new feature. Considering that I just had a paper go through the system with 28 auxiliary files, none of which changed from initial submission to final acceptance, this would have been highly convenient for me to simply click the button and propagate the original upload from version to subsequent version. I hope that you find it a useful new tool when submitting revised manuscripts to AGU journals.

I say “to AGU journals” because this new feature has been installed across all of the GEMS submission sites. So, whether you are submitting to JGR Space Physics, JGR Planets, GRL, Space Weather, Reviews of Geophysics, Radio Science, or Earth and Space Science (I think I covered all of the AGU titles in which space papers appear), you have this option to transfer unchanged figure files from one version to the next.

I’d also like to point out that this feature is being added, at least in part, because of the space physics community’s conversational engagement with me about improving AGU journals. This feature in GEMS was requested by space physicists and I passed it on to AGU HQ. In their latest round of GEMS upgrades, they put it in. Now, perhaps AGU received many such requests, or perhaps they were already thinking of doing this. I have no idea if we can take full credit for its implementation, but I think that we can take a little bit. Thank you very much for your input! I appreciate it, I pass it on, and it has an effect. Keep it coming!

Women In Science

My colleague, Dana Hurley, wrote an Eos forum article, “Women Count,” published last week, addressing the issue of the underrepresentation of female scientists on planetary mission teams. This is an important reminder of a rather sad state of affairs in space and planetary science: a dearth of women in leadership positions. I highly encourage you to read it.

A main point of the article is that this imbalance is probably not overt sexism, but rather a subconscious instinct to surround ourselves with those very similar to ourselves. At the formation of a team for an upcoming mission, the mission PI chooses instrument PIs that he knows, who in turn form a small science team for that specific instrument. Because the field was historically dominated by men in the senior positions, this system of team formation leads to selection of more men on the instrument teams, which aggregate into a mission team that is seriously out of balance with the gender proportion of the community. This imbalance applies far beyond the specific example of planetary mission teams analyzed in the article. This is true across many leadership positions across a number of scientific communities.

Then, of course, there is the bigger issue of recruiting and retaining women in science, let alone being in a leadership position. The article cites a number of 27% for the female population of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Science. AGU’s membership is about the same: according to the 2012 AGU Annual Report, it was 65% male, 22% female, and 13% not reporting (so, ~25% of those reporting were female). We shouldn’t be satisfied with these numbers that are so out of line with the general population.

The article ends with a call to action: count. Pay attention to the number of women “on the team” or “in the room.” Even more importantly, ask the leaders about how the team is being formulated, and pose the question: “Are there candidates for this team who are female/early career/international/minority?” We should all, men and women alike, feel empowered to ask this question and offer suggestions for improving team diversity.

Furthermore, we should expand our usual definition of “team” and “room” here to include any group or cohort, be it a research project investigator team, an advisory committee, a special session organizing crew, a proposal review panel, or a dinner group at a conference. It would be great to be blind to gender in our professional lives, but until we have equity, it is important to follow Dr. Hurley’s advice and take it into account.

New “AGU Space” Facebook Page

When I created this blog, I also created a Facebook page for JGR-Space Physics. The main thing that I have used it for, however, was to spread the news of a new blog post, with very little extra content on it. This is about to change!

With the help and support of AGU HQ staff, my journal-specific Facebook page has been converted to a section-wide forum for all of Space Physics and Aeronomy. The new link is here:


with a cover art graphic:

014_2484_AGU Space FB image-final

and profile “picture:”


I love it! A big thank you to all of the AGU HQ staff that worked hard to make this happen, and a huge thank you to those that helped with my weird special unlike/re-like request so that the conversion of ownership could go quickly and easily.

There are now several administrators for this page (and perhaps even more in the future) that will regularly post information about news, upcoming events, science tidbits, and journal article highlights. I will still be posting links to new blog articles here, but please look forward to a lot more content coming your way through this social media channel. Please feel free to post on the wall of AGU Space!

Using the JGR Space Physics App

Okay, yes, this took me a long time and probably should have done it as soon as I became EiC, but last month I finally loaded the JGR Space Physics app onto my phone. My experience with it can be summed up in a word: fantastic!

It seems very easy to navigate and you can get the full article text right there on your mobile device. The menu starts with “Early View” articles, assuming that you are using the app to check out the latest papers available from the journal, but it has an “Issues” tab that allows you to browse through any article since the creation of the app, which was about a year ago. It also has a “Saved Articles” tab for quickly pulling up any article that you flag for inclusion in this folder. This feature seems especially handy as I go through the issues and identify the papers of most interest to me.

Reading papers on my phone was actually pretty easy for me to accept. The default font size is big, making it very readable on the tiny screen. I find it much easier to read than many news apps, which insist on a much smaller font size. The size is adjustable, too, in the Settings tab. The figures on embedded just like in the HTML version of the paper and clicking on them opens a larger view. In fact, allowing better adjustability of papers for mobile devices was one of the driving factors in switching to the new single-column paper format.

One of the best features that I have found regarding the app is the “roaming” feature. Being at a major research university, I have access to most journals that I want to browse through institutional subscriptions, and this is true for AGU journals. With the app, you need log in (and perhaps create an account) at the Wiley Online Library and turn on “roaming access” under the “My profile” top menu link. When you download the app and request institutional access, you get instructions on how to do this. When you first set it up, the mobile device must be on the wifi network on the institution. After that, however, the app will remember this connection that you have with an institutional subscription and still allow access to any article. I really like this feature for reading on my phone wherever I am, like this week being in Portland at the LWS Workshop.

There is one critical issue about the app regarding institutional access: your roaming access must be refreshed every 90 days. That is, after 3 months, you have to bring the device within the wifi network of the institution, go to the Wiley website, and click a button to reinstate access for another 3 months. This mild inconvenience is a tradeoff that allows “anywhere” access to those with subscriptions while also trying to limit fraud. Specifically, it prevents one-time visitors to a subscriber institution from “forever onward” having unlimited access to journal articles. People can make such connections, but they expire after 90 days.

I highly encourage you to check out the mobile apps for AGU’s journals. I’ve installed several of them now and I’m enjoying their use.

AGU Has an Open Search For a New EiC of Radio Science

Happy Halloween!

I would like to reiterate the call in Eos, the SPA Newsletter, and other places that there is an open call for nominations/applications for the Editor-in-Chief of Radio Science. The announcement can be found here:


The PDF of the call with full details is here:


Radio Science has been around for near 50 years. It focuses on ” measurement, modeling, prediction, and forecasting techniques pertinent to fields and waves.” In perusing the recent articles in the journal, it is mostly a space physics publication, specifically ionospheric in nature, but the topic is not limited to this field alone. There are also atmospheric and ground measurements made with radio frequency signals and a significant fraction of the papers in Radio Science extend its scope well beyond that of JGR Space Physics. Furthermore, while many of the papers are experimentally oriented, its focus is not limited to instrumentation and data analysis but spans theoretical and numerical studies of electromagnetic propagation and interaction with materials, fluids, or other waves. The only two things it specifically excludes are wave propagation in “biological media” or optical (i.e., visible) frequencies.


Radio Science has been doing very well the last few years under its current leadership crew. Dr. Paul Cannon of the University of Birmingham is the current EiC, who works along with one other editor, Joshua Le-Wei Li of the University of Science and Technology of China, and a long list of Associate Editors.

Sometimes a manuscript comes in to JGR Space Physics, Radio Science, or Space Weather that is better suited for one of the others. We work together with the author to fit the manuscript into the publication that will reach the appropriate audience and best fit the scope of the journal. So, I am very interested to see who is selected for this position, because it is someone with whom I will regularly collaborate on editorial issues.

The deadline for applications is actually upon us: October 31. Yes, today! They are usually a bit flexible on these deadlines, though, so you probably have the weekend to mull it over. Please think about this, contact Paul with specific questions about editing and leading this journal, and consider serving in this role for the space physics community. The application is simply a letter of interest and a CV. In fact, you can even nominate someone else, and the search committee will take this into account in their deliberations.

Soliciting Input on arXiv

My post last month generated some interesting discussion, both comments on the post but also emails and in-person conversations directly with me. It seems that arXiv is only marginally used by the Earth and planetary space physics communities but is extensively used by the solar physics community.

We have started a conversation among the JGR Space Physics editorial board, AGU staff, and the AGU Publications Committee about the issue of non-profit preprint repositories and their relationship to AGU’s dual publication policy. We are trying to identify and discuss the pros and cons of such repositories, their current usage by various communities, and if/how AGU should revise its stance on this topic. The short answer is that the evidence is mixed, the opinions varied, and decision is difficult. Steadily and surely, though, we’re making progress and moving our discussion forward.

I would like to solicit community input on this topic. Please share with us your thoughts, joys, concerns, and suggestions about your experiences with arXiv or other preprint/reprint sharing sites. You can do this several ways: post a comment below; send me an email; or contact any of the other editors of JGR Space Physics. We want to hear from you and we want to include the community perspective in this discussion.

Live from the SWMF Users Meeting

As I sit here at the inaugural “SWMF Users Meeting” here at the University of Michigan, I realize that I am listening to many talks in space physics subdisciplines that are far from my regular stomping grounds. It’s an interesting day, though, and reminds me that we all too often limit our scientific interactions to others working in our immediate niche of space physics. This is natural; we have limited time to listen to others and so we focus on attending presentations within our specialty. There is a lot to learn from interdisciplinary interactions, though, and I highly encourage everyone to take the time to listen to presentations beyond their normal scientific comfort zone.

We have several opportunities to do this in the coming years. For one, there is the LWS Workshop on “Evolving Solar Activity and Its Influence on Space and Earth” in early November. The organizers intentionally invited a broad range of solar, heliospheric, magnetospheric, and ionosphere-thermosphere researchers to come together and spend a few days talking with each other. I am a huge fan of these cross-fertilizing meetings and I am looking forward to the week in Portland. Soon after this, of course, there is the Fall AGU Meeting in mid-December. With over 20,000 attendees, this meeting can feel overwhelming. It’s a fairly easy thing to stay in the particular room of your discipline and spend the entire week among familiar concepts. This meeting, though, also makes it easy to wander into the adjacent room or poster aisle and experience a very different set of presentations. It’s worth your while to do this every now and then. This spring, we have back-to-back-to-back opportunities for interdisciplinary interaction, with the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna in mid-March, the inaugural Triennial Earth-Sun Summit, the joint SPA-SPD meeting to be held in Indianapolis in late April, and the AGU Joint Assembly in Montreal the following week. Finally, more opportunities for such interaction exist at the summer meetings of IUGG General Assembly (in Prague in late June) and the AOGS Annual Meeting (in Singapore in early August). I am sure I am forgetting other meetings of this nature, but you get the idea…we have lots of opportunities for extending our scientific experience beyond our regular boundaries.

To tie this post to JGR Space Physics: on the publication front, I encourage you to read papers that are not only in your specialty but also across the scope of the journal. Yes, this takes time, and it is easy to sign up for an alert that tailors the notification to your exact interest. However, it is useful to occasionally read a paper outside of your normal area of expertise.