Don’t Cite Unpublished Work

The title of this post really says it all. Here’s a quote from a document at the Editor Portal (sorry, I don’t have a public link for it), “AGU journals do not allow references to unpublished journal articles.” This includes JGR Space Physics.


            Like the requirement of having open access to the data (observational or numerical) used to develop findings in a study, all scientific understanding on which the study is based (i.e., the cited literature) needs to be available. This does not mean freely available (the paper could be behind a subscription paywall) or even easily available (for instance, print only in an old monograph), but available somehow. Citing unpublished articles, especially the promissory note of “manuscript in preparation,” is forbidden.

Let me make an important clarification to this: unpublished articles cannot be cited in accepted or published AGU journal articles. At initial submission, citing papers that are “under review” or “accepted” is allowed. You need to provide a copy of the unpublished paper as a supplemental document so that the Editor and reviewers can see it and assess the worthiness of the reference. If they are not supplied, then reviewers can and should ask to see such references and the corresponding author should be ready to provide it.  This means authors should confirm with the authors of the cited yet unpublished paper that it is okay to cite their paper and provide it to the Editor and reviewers.

On submission of any revisions, however, these other papers must have progressed to the level of being available online or in print. If not, then they should be removed and the manuscript revised to accommodate that change in referenced literature. If they are still in the revised manuscript, then AGU staff will ask the authors for a justification about the citation and will consult with the Editor about how to handle it. It could be that the other paper is close but not quite through to acceptance. If this can be verified, then we will probably let that through. It could be a companion paper or another paper in the same special section. Again, this is probably okay. If we let it remain, however, and the citing paper is accepted before the cited paper is available, then AGU/Wiley will hold the citing paper until the publication of that other one. If you must cite that paper, then your paper will wait until the other is available. If two papers mutually cite each other, AGU will coordinate publication. They will even coordinate with other publishers, like they did with the MAVEN special section in GRL last November, which came out simultaneously with 4 related papers in Science, all released in phase with a press conference.

For AGU journals, being “in press” means being available. AGU posts nearly all papers at the journal website within 3-4 days of acceptance. Other journals may or may not do this, though, so “in press” is not a guarantee that you can cite the paper. Like I said, AGU will contact other publishers and coordinate, release. Who knows, this might even expedite publication and availability of that other paper.

Finally, citation of some non-DOI references is allowed, especially those that are permanently archived. One example of special relevance to JGR Space Physics is the preprint service. Citing a paper there is allowed, even if it doesn’t have a corresponding peer-reviewed version available yet. Posting to is allowed because these papers are “permanently available” at this site. In the end, it is up to the Editor, in consultation with the authors and reviewers, to decide if the citation to a paper at (or similar service) is acceptable.

This has been enforced at GRL for a while but is relatively new for JGR Space Physics. If you start to see emails from AGU staff asking about these references to unpublished work, now you know why.



AGU’s Sexual Harassment Pages

I have to do another post on this topic because this happened last weekend: AGU convened a workshop titled, “Sexual Harassment in the Sciences: A Call To Respond.” I wish I could have been there, but instead last Friday was Lois‘ dissertation defense. In case you were wondering, she successfully defended her thesis and is now Dr. Sarno-Smith. Yay for her!

AGU has created a nice page about this issue on their website that has many sub-pages of additional information about types of harassment, a listing of resources about harassment in the sciences, and a page on workshops and support, which at the moment just lists last Friday’s conference. The page also lists procedures for reporting an allegation of harassment by an AGU member (in short, submit it in writing to Here’s the graphic from the page:


            AGU has even convened a task force to review the society’s ethics policy and update it with respect to this issue. I look forward to seeing their results.

This issue affects our community and, when present, taints our interactions with each other. If I am every out of line, then please let me know. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. If you are ever involved in harassment related to AGU Publications and in particular JGR Space Physics, then please report the incident to the AGU Ethics Committee. Even better, though, please be part of building a no-tolerance culture for sexual harassment and engage in the fight against harassment.

Common Tweaks To the AGU Manuscript Templates

A couple of months ago I wrote about new manuscript templates from AGU, in both Word and LaTeX. There are two small issues with these templates, and here I will show you how to change them.

First, in the Word template, line numbering is not turned on by default. You have to do this yourself. It’s easy, though.

  • Under the Format pull-down menu, select “Document”
  • Click on the “Layout” tab at the top of the pop-up window
  • Click on the “Line Numbers…” button
  • Check the box for “Add line numbering”, click the button for “Continuous”, and click “Ok” (and then “Ok” again in the Document window)

Here’s the Document-Layout pop-up menu:


and here is Line Numbers pop-up menu:


            In the LaTeX template, the common issue that I hear people wanting to fix is the line spacing in draft mode. The normal way to do this is to insert this line after the \documentclass command:


where x.x is a multiplier for the spacing between the lines relative to the font size, such as 1.0 for single spacing or 1.2, 1.5, or 2.0 for larger line spacing. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to introduce new macros into the AGU LaTeX templates, so please do not use the line above.

Instead, you have to change the baseline setting in the auxiliary files. To do this:

  • Open the “agujournal.cls” file, either in TeX or text editor
  • Scroll about a third of the way down to the “Font Family Info” section
  • Change the \draftskip setting to some other value
  • Save the file and close it

Here is the section of agujournal.cls that you need to change (line 376):


As you can see, the draft setting is 20, while the font size is 12, so the default is a little more than 1.5 line spacing. If you want single line spacing in your draft document, then change this number to 12. I kind of like a setting of 15, which leaves just a bit of space between the lines but still keeps the text compact.

Of course, when you upload your paper_file.tex document into GEMS (which is not required at first submission, but is required for subsequent “revision” submissions), the GEMS system will use its unaltered agujournal.cls file to typeset your manuscript. This will undo what you just did. If you want the editor and reviewers to see the version with the tighter line spacing, then you have to replace the GEMS-generated PDF file of the merged manuscript document. Another advantage of uploading your own PDF is that you can control the placement of the figures within the manuscript; otherwise, GEMS will append them to the end of the manuscript file, without numbering or captions nearby. So, I strongly urge you to upload your own full-manuscript PDF into GEMS at that step in the submission process.

I hope this helps. If you have other little tricks you do to the templates, then please free free to share them in the comment section below.


Paper Publicity

In every decision letter from an AGU journal, including JGR Space Physics, now has a paragraph about publicizing your paper. Specifically, the wording looks something like this:

The “Publicity Information” link is in the lower left corner of this page, under the “Resources” heading. You get a page with this heading:


            There are two kinds of information on this page: the first paragraph is on how AGU might promote papers in their journals. I had a post a few months ago on how the JGR Space Physics webpage has several features intended to highlight and promote some papers, but this list mentions some others, like social media posts and Eos Research Spotlights.

The rest of the page describes the process of working with the AGU Public Information Office to make a press release, press conference, or some other more formal announcement about your study. If you think that your paper is worthy of a press release, then please contact this office immediately after acceptance, or even after the first revision decision, so they can start working with you on the best way to promote the findings to the public and the press. One of the things they might do is to “embargo” the manuscript, i.e., not post the accepted preprint version of the article on the JGR Space Physics website, until there is an official announcement about it. Nanci Bompey, the AGU Public Information Manager, is very good at working with both the press and with authors to market Earth and space science findings beyond our own community. She and her team can help, so please don’t be shy about promoting your work.

Let me stress again, though, that the embargo is critical to retain the anticipation and excitement around the official release of the study. So, if you want to pursue this route for one of your papers, then please fill out their form either during the editorial process or immediately after acceptance.

More On Bro Culture

This summer, since my Women in Space Physics post, I have been attuned to writings about women in the workforce, especially STEM fields, and on the prevalence of “bro culture.” Like the From the Prow blog post from AGU President Margaret Leinen about building diversity in our community. There was also the New York Times opinion piece about “bro talk” on Wall Street and how it keeps women out of the conversation and insidiously pushes them out of that workforce. And, on the even darker side, who can forget that guy in the news stating that if his daughter was harassed at work, then she should just find another job or even switch careers. Okay, back to the light side: here is an awesome and inspiring collection of profiles of women in planetary science.

Just recently, another of AGU’s blogs, Dan’s Wild Wild Science Journal, had a post about the lack of women in the STEM workforce. It recapped a PLOS One article that argues for increased tutoring through Calc I and II in early college, especially for those that didn’t have calc in high school. As a former introductory chemistry tutor at my undergrad institution, I think this is a fantastic idea. College can be hard, especially adjusting during that first term or two, and a broad support system, including tutoring for those tough introductory classes, is critical for maximizing student success. Here’s one of the important charts from the article:


The article focuses on increasing the second-to-last data point on this graph. They show evidence that tutoring in Calc I/II could significantly alter the drop in STEM students during those first few years of college. I completely agree.

What they didn’t really discuss is the far bigger drop off between the senior year of high school and freshmen wanting to major in STEM. That’s where the “number of people in the STEM pipeline” drops off the most. In addition, back in middle school and high school, the lines between male and female diverge the most, with the male interest curve rising and the female curve dropping.

As a final topic here, I’d like to recommend a book. Among the many comments I received was a link to a book, “Now What Do I Say?” by Anne Krook. It’s a how-to book, filled with hypothetical (or, sadly, very real) examples of sexist comments and questions women might encounter, and good advice on how to respond in these situations. She compares this process to disaster planning, “the options for addressing risks as you plan for a disaster are to prevent, mitigate, prepare, and accept risks.” Krook offers lots of advice on how to address the risk of inappropriate interactions at work via all 4 of these avenues. My e-book copy is highlighted on nearly every page. There is too much good advice in this book to be condensed into a paragraph on a blog, so I won’t try. I will say this: the 10 workplace commandments section alone is worth the book price. I sat up the night before the GEM/CEDAR Workshop finishing this book, and then was at the meeting for so short of a time that I barely got to talk about it with people. Whether you are male or female, I strongly urge you to read this book.


Getting back to editing JGR Space Physics, I strongly urge you to remove gendered wording in reviews and, especially, responses to reviews. It is now acceptable to use the singular they in formal writing, which is a good alternative to guessing the gender of an anonymous person. I still see “he” and “him” in correspondence and, really, unless your reviewer signs it, you will probably guess incorrectly about who your writing about.


AGU’s Blogosphere

Have you discovered AGU’s blogosphere?  It’s part of the new look and feel of the online version of Eos. I mentioned the blogosphere in a post about a year ago on communicating science, and the Editors’ Vox I pointed out in my last post is an AGU blog, but I haven’t really promoted the full blog suite here yet, and I should, because there is lots of good stuff there for JGR Space Physics readers.


I’d like to take this post and go through the list.

  • GeoSpace: basically about any science topic within the AGU umbrella, this is the closest one to a space physics blog in the list. It occasionally has a post about our field, and you can contribute ideas for posts to the writers.
  • The Plainspoken Scientist: tips on how to be a better scientist, especially how to be a better communicator of your science, both to other scientists and to the general public.
  • The Bridge: connecting science and policy, this blog is not by a single person but a team, including guest contributors. Yes, you too and write a blog post!
  • GeoEd Trek: an education research specialist talks about geoscience education and outreach, science communication, and technology tools in the classroom and in research.
  • Dan’s Wild Wild Science Journal: written by an on-air meteorologist, he has new content every few days covering the gamut of AGU disciplines.
  • From a Glacier’s Perspective: a glaciologist professor talks about her work, with lots of amazing pictures of ice formations.
  • The Martian Chronicles: a few people associated with Mars missions post here several times a week on what’s up at the Red Planet.
  • Magma Cum Laude: can you guess? A volcanologist tells us about her adventures in work and life.
  • Terra Central: by “an environmental scientist working in the private sector,” his job sounds very close to what my wife used to do, helping industry and government clients comply with environmental regulations.
  • Georneys: covers a wide spectrum of geology topics, including some fun themes like “Bad Geology Movies.”
  • The Landslide Blog: his summary captures the content very well: “commentary on landslide events occurring worldwide, including the landslides themselves, latest research, and conferences and meetings.”
  • Mountain Beltway: by another prolific poster, this one on structural geology usually has many photos and graphics, often including his lens cap for size perspective.
  • The Trembling Earth: again, can you guess? Right, earthquakes!

And one more, not officially part of the Eos blogroll but from AGU HQ:

  • From the Prow: articles from the AGU chief executive officer, Chris McEntee, the AGU president, Margaret Leinen, and others from the top layers of AGU.

Happy reading!

AGU’s Editors’ Vox

Having never taken Latin in my youth, I had to look it up: the word vox simply means “voice.” So, it was only reasonable that Brooks Hanson, AGU’s Director of Publications, entitled his inaugural post at the AGU’s Editors’ Vox like this, “The Voice of AGU’s Editors.” Started late last year, it is a place for the editors of AGU’s 19 journals “to share their perspective more widely and as a way of elevating a broader dialog on important science.” It’s a blog, just like this, without official citation information or DOI assignment, but the postings are included in the Eos electronic alerts, to which hopefully many of you subscribe.


            Over the last few months, the Editors of JGR Space Physics have begun participating in this new forum. Editor Yuming Wang was the first of us to jump in, writing about community efforts to understand geoeffective CMEs. Editor Larry Kepko used another format at the Editors’ Vox: an interview. He authored a GRL paper on the origins of the slow solar wind, and AGU staff posed questions to him as the basis for a Vox post about it. I finally got around to writing one in the late spring on Saturn’s magnetosphere, motivated by the Cassini MAPS meeting that was held here in Ann Arbor in May. I just had a second one appear today about the Unsolved Problems in Magnetospheric Physics Workshop last fall, which became the motivator for a JGR special section comprised mostly of Commentaries.

Editors’ Vox articles are not all about scientific results, though. For instance, Space Weather EiC Delores Knipp wrote a Vox article on the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, Senate Bill 2817, which will help implement the National Space Weather Action Plan. Another example is the Vox post by GRL Editor Paul Williams about how controversy is good for scientific advancement. A final example I’ll give is Tectonics EiC John Geissman’s article about including geoethics in our research and our teaching curricula.

We’re having fun with it. I hope that you enjoy them.

New Paper Type Descriptions

AGU has updated the paper type descriptions, and they are available at the Author Resources webpage.


The updates are minor tweaks from what is was before, so the big news is that a listing is now easily available on the AGU publications page.

I will very briefly go over those that JGR Space Physics accepts:

  • Research articles: the standard paper in the journal. I don’t know the exact number, but my guess is that over 95% of papers in JGR Space Physics are of this type, presenting a new scientific advancement within our research scope.
  • Commentaries: providing a perspective on a particular topic in the field, intended to spur discussion and new research in that area. These are by editorial invitation only, but if you have a willingness to write one, then please contact an editor.
  • Reviews: Yes, JGR Space Physics publishes the occasional topical review article, usually in conjunction with a special section. These are also by editorial invitation only, and are pitched at a more technical level than those written for Reviews of Geophysics, which are written to appeal to a broader AGU-wide audience.
  • Comments: specifically directed to “elaborate, criticize, or correct” a recently published paper, this are usually very short and should be submitted within a year or two of the original paper.
  • Replies: the rebuttal from the original authors when a Comment is written about their paper.
  • Technical Reports: Data: presents a new and significant data set for community availability and usage. It has to have a clear example demonstrating its relevance to the field, but the paper does not have to include an advancement of the space physics understanding.
  • Technical Reports: Methods: presents a new and significant model, data analysis technique, or experimental methodology that enable new scientific advancements.

Note that JGR Space Physics does not accept “research letters,” and no journal has a paper type called “brief reports,” which was removed a couple of years ago. Also, special section prefaces or introductory articles now fit under the Commentary umbrella, as do editorials.

You can find the paper type designation for a particular article just above the title. Most will say “Research Article” like this example,


because that is, by far, the most common paper type in JGR Space Physics. You have to scroll through the list a bit but you can find other paper types, such as Commentaries like this one:


or Reviews, like this one:


            Happy writing, and reading!

GRL Editorial Policy

This Eos article is well worth the read. Written by the entire editorial board of Geophysical Research Letters, it clearly and concisely explains the current mandate and policies of that journal. Perhaps like many of you, I have had quite a few rejections from GRL over the years. Sometimes I have pushed back and resubmitted to GRL, and other times I have expanded the study and submitted the manuscript to a different journal. As the article states, GRL serves a particular role in geoscience research, and we should respect that role and honor the service of the editors and reviewers that make GRL a rapid-publication, high-impact publication.


            They touch on many of the topics that I have mentioned in this blog. I’d like to take their Eos article as an opportunity to review some of the key points of AGU publication policy that they address. A big change in policy is that GRL has resumed the use of major revisions. There is always an editorial dilemma between rejection and major revisions, over the levels of rejection, or even why we should reject at all. They nicely explain that major revisions are back, but the turnaround time is fast (30 days). If you are submitting to GRL and demanding rapid publication, then you should be ready to work quickly to make that rapid timeline.

Another topic they mention is that GEMS now allows editors to retain the original submission date on a submission-after-rejection manuscript. If the paper is largely the same, then you can refute the rejection, and if the editor is convinced by your arguments, then they have the option of switching the submission date back to that of the original submission. That is, this essentially treats the “new” submission as a revision resubmission. Note that this normally doesn’t get applied for rejection without review, but rather for decisions based on scientific content and quality. I rarely use this feature, but it is an option for all AGU journal editors within GEMS.

They bring up mobility between journals within GEMS. One of the levels of rejection is “reject and transfer.” AGU has also implemented a very helpful “consultation” feature in GEMS to allow editors from different journals discuss a manuscript before suggesting a transfer. I get a small but steady stream of transferred GRL papers, and we occasionally send papers on to other journals, like Space Weather, Radio Science, and Earth and Space Sciences.

The Eos article has an important section on AGU’s Data Policy. This has been around for several years now and I have written about it several times. Note that they adopt the same position on code, demanding availability of “data from numerical models” rather than the code itself.

The GRL Editors explain their position on the cross check analysis. This is always subjective call of whether to send it back, especially with respect to self plagiarism and overlap in the methodology section. I give some tips for checking for overlap here.

I am glad that they mentioned reviewer recognition in the article. None of the AGU journals would exist without the dedicated reviewing service of the research community. This work greatly helps with the process of ensuring high-quality papers. There are a lot of you involved in reviewing, and I also extend my thanks to you.

Finally, the article wraps up with a note on visibility of papers. Papers are highlighted on the journal websites, as well as via Eos Research Spotlights and Editors’ Vox articles. We’re also trying to increase the number of Commentaries in AGU journals and promote papers via social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

In summary, I really like the article that Noah Diffenbaugh and crew wrote about GRL‘s editorial policies. I am very happy to see editors reaching out to the community to increase communication and transparency so we all know what goes on behind the curtain.

PhD Comics Rejection Letter

Some midsummer editorial humor for you.


            Does ours sound like this? Do people read our “decline” letters with this red text commentary running through their heads? Even if they do, it’s a funny comic. I smiled at it, and I hope you do too.

I like PhD Comics but I don’t subscribe or visit the website very often, so thanks to all of those that pointed it out to me (okay, there were two of you).