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).



New AGU Manuscript Templates

It took me quite a few months to notice, but in case you didn’t see them, there are new manuscript templates available at the AGU Author Resources website. The links are in the lower left part of the page, under the “Resources” heading. They have created one for Word and another for LaTeX.


            One of the big changes in these templates: embedded figures and tables! AGU has been accepting papers with figures and tables embedded in the main text for quite a while now, these new templates help guide authors to actually doing this.

Another change is single-space text. At least in the Word template, the document is no longer double-spaced but rather the default is a single-spaced manuscript. I like this change a lot. I see that the LaTeX template still has double spacing as the default, but doing loading the “setspace” package, with the command \usepackage{setspace}, allows you to control line spacing throughout the document. I print out documents very rarely now and do most of my markups of other people’s papers as “tracked changes” or “comments” to the document, so I prefer single-spaced text.

While I am encouraging you to start embedding tables and figures and single-spacing your text, these are only recommendations. This is still a personal preference and you are free to continue putting tables and figures at the end and double-spacing your manuscripts. I will tell you, though, that this old style of manuscript format is a regular complaint that I receive from reviewers. There are some in our field that vocally gripe about the awkwardness of these formatting options, with their inconvenient placement of figures and tables far from the callout text and the awkwardness of double spacing on mobile devices. My figure is twitching just thinking about all of the extra scrolling.

Finally, just above the AGU Manuscript Template links, AGU has posted links to submission checklists, for both initial submissions and revision submissions. There are different rules for first versus later submissions of a manuscript, because the hope is that later submissions are getting close to acceptance and AGU needs the original files of the text and figures to eventually send to Wiley for production. At initial submission, a single PDF file is acceptable. And, remember, you can always replace the GEMS-generated “merged PDF” with your own version of the full paper document that gets sent to reviewers.


Details of JGR’s 2015 JCR

Thomson Reuters has completely reformatted the Journal Citation Reports (JCRs) at their website, but eventually I was able to sift through the new layout and find most of what I wanted. One of the documents, the Journal Profile Grid, is an Excel sheet in 5-point font. While this is easily correctable, it is annoying on first reading.

As I mentioned in a post last month, 2015 had flat-to-slightly-down 2-year and 5-year Impact Factors. However, in the long term, JGR‘s Impact Factor has been trending slightly upward. It was never above 3.0 in 2007 and earlier, yet has never been below 3.0 from 2008 onward. Here is a nice little graphic from the JCR showing that trajectory:


So, it’s done this (a brief, small dip) before. The little hiccup as of late might be just that, a blip in the long-term upward trend. Or it could be the start of something bad. Let’s hope for the former, not the latter.

Following what I did last year with JCR details, here are some other tidbits of information about JGR.

  • Total cites: rose by ~5% to an amazing 198,000. This is a huge number for a discipline-specific journal. Here’s a chart of JGR total cites by year:


  • Self cites: down a little at 18%. I don’t actually know what this means. A high number (above 10%, say) could be a sign of dominance in the field or it could be a sign of isolation and disconnection from the field. We’ll go with the former.
  • Immediacy index: dropped just a bit to 0.61. Remember, this is cites in 2015 to JGR papers published in 2015; most of the papers in the second half of the year have zero citations.
  • Cited half-life: still greater than 10 years. So, on average, more than half of the citations to a JGR paper occur 10+ years after its publication.
  • Citing half-life: ever-so-slightly up to 9.4 years. This is the “age” of references in JGR
  • References per paper: up by one to 56. They count papers with more than 100 references as “review articles” rather than “regular” research papers.
  • Eigenfactor score: dropped ever-so-slightly to 0.31. This value is based on the 5-year Impact Factor but removes self-cites and then weights citations based on the strength of the citing journal. This is a decent value.
  • Article Influence Score: down a bit to 1.39. This is a discipline-normalized version of the Eigenfactor. Values above unity are good.

All of these metrics are explained in more detail in an earlier post. And again, remember, this is for all of JGR, not just JGR Space Physics.


LWS TR&T Feedback Request

A few months ago, I let Alexa Halford, a member of the NASA LWS TR&T Steering Committee, write a guest blog post requesting input for the creation of the TR&T Focused Science Topic (FST) list for next year’s ROSES call. That process went well, and the TR&T Steering Committee is now on to the next stage, which is gathering community feedback on the draft FST list. Alexa asked to write another guest blog post about this, again based on her longer post at her blog. Here it is.


Urgent! Comments on LWS TR&T FSTs are due July 18th 2016

First off, Thank you all for submitting research topics earlier this year! We had a total of 57 proposed topics and many more comments. The living with a star steering committee met back in May and we tried to collate the topics into themes which became the 15 Focused Science Topics (FSTs) that we plan to submit to NASA headquarters. You can find the FSTs here.

But before we submit these FSTs, we need your help! We would love to get feed back from the community on the FSTs. Do you like them? Did we miss something? Does that sentence even make sense? Let us know what you think (by July 18th). Later this year we will take these comments and edit the current draft FSTs before finalizing  and  sending them off to NASA headquarters. You can comment until July 18th on individual topics or on the entire document. As you may remember from past years, headquarters will then decide on if they want to use these proposed FSTs or others, combine them or edit them  before turning them into ROSES FY17 calls. So make sure your voice is heard and help us make these the best Focused Science Topics our field has seen!

Thanks so much for your involvement with this process! Personally, I think we have a great set of FSTs (that I’m sure can be improved with your help) and that in large part is due to the strong community involvement we saw this year. Thank you!

JGR’s 2015 Impact Factor

Thomson-Reuters released the 2015 Impact Factors and the value for Journal of Geophysical Research is 3.3. This is a 0.1 drop from the journal’s Impact Factor of 3.4 in 2014 and 2013 . Basically within the noise of year-to-year variation, but it went down a tenth instead of up, which is disappointing.

Here’s the Thomson-Reuter’s logo, just so we have a graphic to go with this post, with a link to their page on this topic:


            The Impact Factor is calculated as the average citations in year 2015 of papers published in 2013 and 2014. Thomson-Reuters also calculates a 5-year Impact Factor and the 2015 value for JGR is 3.7, again identical to the 2013 and 2014 values to two significant digits.

Thomson-Reuters still has all sections of JGR combined in this value. So, I don’t know what it is specifically for JGR Space Physics.

In good news for the space physics community, AGU’s Space Weather Journal rose from 2.1 to 2.4 in its 2-year Impact Factor, and from 1.9 to 2.3 in its 5-year Impact Factor. Woohoo for Space Weather!

Like last year, I’ll download the Journal Citation Report, take a closer look at the numbers behind this index, and write a follow-up post.

Women in Space Physics

Here in America, the last two weeks have seen several stories of losses and victories over sexism in society. On the dark side, there was the campus rape, with the Stanford student who does not deserve to be named, the relatively light sentence issued by the judge in the case, and the student’s father minimizing the heinous act as “20 minutes of action.” There were, however, the courageous people that stood up to this sexism, including the victim herself and her powerful courtroom speech, the two grad students that caught him in the act, and the millions on social media standing up for the victim.

There was also Hillary Clinton, clinching the delegates needed to be the first female (presumptive) nominee of a major political party. Regardless of what you think of her, this is a huge step for the United States. The presumptive nominee from the other major party, however, scoffs at her electoral success with sexist drivel, most notably saying that Clinton is playing the woman card. Yeah, this:


            Why I am writing about this on my JGR Space Physics EiC blog? Because sexism still exists in our field. As a white man in a position of authority in space physics, I feel compelled to bring this up.  I’ve written about this before here, one on Women in Science and several on Gendered Wording in correspondence, but it is time to write another post on it, not only for the stories above but for this reason…

My exceptionally intelligent grad student, Lois Sarno-Smith, is leaving academia. Her “Reason #3” deeply concerns me: blatant sexism in our field. She has noticed it among us. I have noticed it among us. You, perhaps, also, have noticed it among us.

It manifests itself in several ways. Perhaps most commonly, sexism insidiously creeps into our everyday conversations. Little things we say, idioms of our regular lives, carry connotations that promote sexism. Have you ever heard someone say “man up” or “that was ballsy” or “you throw like a girl”? Phrases like this implicitly assume men are superior to women; they should be purged from usage. We need to be more careful in how we speak because words matter, not only in the workplace but also in every aspect of our lives.

Because there are so many men in space physics, there can be a “bro culture” where it is considered acceptable to tease, taunt, swear, and make sexual innuendos. These interactions are not welcoming to a diverse assembly and they make others beyond the “in group” feel uncomfortable. Bro culture is perhaps most common among a late-night drinking crowd, but it can occur anywhere, including during “regular work meetings.” I have seen an otherwise normal research conversation suddenly veer into bro culture language. What I didn’t pay enough attention to was that others were cringing at the inappropriate tangent. We need to do better at keeping our professional lives at a professional level.

We still carry sexism in discussing how people look or dress. Actually, I am amazed we even talk about how people dress or look in the workplace. “Beauty” should only be used towards a sophisticated piece of hardware, an elegant section of code, or a scientifically significant figure, not the figure of the person who created the device, code, or plot. We need to catch ourselves before making comments about someone’s appearance and ask ourselves if the comment is really appropriate for the office. Usually, it isn’t.

Another way is the stereotype that women are bad at math, which creates a “stereotype threat“. If not addressed and dispelled, the pressure to overcome the stereotype can hurt performance on assessments of that skill. It is a very real and documented issue, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce this effect.

There are others, but I will mention just one more: inappropriate advances. While office romances occur in nearly every setting, senior men should not be hitting on junior women. It is an abuse of power and, unless it is one of the very rare instances of consensual and mutual attraction, it creates a hostile work environment for the woman. Every workplace has a power hierarchy, and those above others in this structure have the extra responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe rather than threatening and uncomfortable. I don’t understand the desire to spoil a good working relationship with the weirdness of romance and the potential of a breakup. Many times, such relationships work out just fine, but the initial advance is often inappropriate.

A special note for space physics: your “workplace,” a word I have used repeatedly above, extends well beyond the physical walls of the building that houses your desk. We collaborate with people at other institutions and, at conferences, regularly discuss our findings with people from across the world. Our “workplace” is the entire space physics research community, or at least that part with which we regularly interact.

I am guilty of sexism in my interactions with space physicists. I hope that my transgressions are behind me now, though, as I am more aware of the problem and am now actively working to address it. When you see sexism, even in its seemingly benign forms, call it out. Like the Stanford rape case, it should not fall on the victim to notice that something is wrong. Those witnessing the words or deeds should also feel empowered to address the perpetrator. Furthermore, we should be comfortable discussing this issue. There is a stigma that those who are harassed should just “toughen up” and “deal with it.” No. Sexism hurts, and our field will be better off if we openly address it and decrease it. Raising awareness of the problem and allowing victims to safely tell their stories is a necessary step towards identifying and correcting the root causes of the problem.

As two other women in my research group are leaving soon to start Assistant Professor jobs at other universities, I am hopeful that we can overcome sexism in space physics. I would like to think that space physics is more gender-neutral and minority-welcoming than in the past, but, clearly, we still have a long way to go. Please be part of the solution.