Why Extend My Term?

As I stated in a post a couple weeks ago, I am extending my term as Editor in Chief of JGR Space Physics for two additional years. So, I have 3 more years as EiC, not just one more. We’ve reset the hourglass back to the halfway point of my term.

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            The primary motivation for continuing to do this job is that I would like to see the project through on a few initiatives that we have started. One is an assessment of the common qualities of highly cited papers. One such study of citations to JGR Space Physics papers is well under way and, while I am not ready to reveal results (mainly because they are still in flux), a manuscript on our findings should be ready in the coming months. At the Fall AGU Meeting, I requested an additional study of this type to be conducted by Wiley staff, and I look forward to seeing their findings some time in 2017. Really, though, I want to develop a strategy based on these data and findings and see it through to implementation and eventual success. This will take longer than a year. So, when Brooks Hanson (AGU’s Director of Publications) asked me to extend my term, my initial thoughts were positive because I was already wishing for more time to see things through.

Another initiative I would like to bring to closure is this experiment in cultivating a relatively large number of special sections. We had 11 special sections that closed to submissions in 2016, a number that has been steadily increasing during my term as EiC. I would really like to assess the influence of these special sections on the Journal Impact Factor (JIF). Do they have any influence at all, or do papers in special sections receive more (or less!) citations than a “regular” paper. The same can be said for Commentaries, of which we had a special section consisting almost entirely of this paper type. Commentaries are short perspective articles that hopefully stir discussion, debate, and action in the scientific community. Again, I would like to assess the influence of such papers, in particular the number of studies that each one inspires, measured not only by citations to the Commentary but also by the number of “similar-field papers” within the “keyword” or “index term” category. However, because they are so new to the journal, we will have to wait a year or two to even conduct this assessment.

I am told that in 2017, Thomson Reuters will issue separate JIFs for each section of JGR. I have been forewarned that ours is below the all-section average. Because 2016 is done, the next release of JIF numbers are already set (although not calculated); we cannot change the initial set of values that we’ll have. I don’t want to hand off the journal to a new EiC who will have to deal with this step-function shift in JIF for the journal. I want to start now on influencing future year JIF values, and a couple more years as EiC will all me to properly assess and address this shift before handing the reins to the next EiC.

Finally, I’m having fun with this blog. I regularly receive positive feedback about it, which I greatly appreciate. I am glad that so many of you find it to be useful and informative. Yep, I’m going to keep writing these posts for three more years.

The Ashour-Abdalla Scholarship

This year, we were saddened by the passing of Dr. Maha Ashour-Abdalla, a space plasma physicist, prominent member of our research community, a Fellow of AGU, and a professor at UCLA. The SPA Newsletter announcement about her death is here. It’s worth the read.

AGU is honoring her with the creation of the new Maha Ashour-Abdalla Scholarship in Space Physics Fund. The announcement about it is here. It is specifically targeted at women entering graduate school intending to pursue a research project in space physics.

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            The exact size and number of scholarships to be awarded is still to be determined. As a new fund, it is starting out with only the initial donations received so far this year. To help establish this scholarship, people have to donate. There is a block at the bottom of the announcement page that allows you to quickly make a contribution to this fund.

I just had a post about AGU’s Giving Day with various ways and reasons to donate to AGU. The most direct and immediate way is to give online. This page is the general donation page with listings of all of the different accounts and funds open to contributions. Among all of those others, you can find this new scholarship fund on this page, too. Under the “Student Grants, Scholarships, and Activities” pull-down menu, the second from the bottom is the “Maha Ashour-Abdalla Scholarship in Space Physics Fund.”

Let’s make this a lasting memorial to her, continuing her legacy as a leader in our field.

Not One But Three

As I went to the Fall AGU Meeting this month, it was finally hitting me that I was entering the final year of my Editor-in-Chief term for JGR Space Physics. At the meeting, however, Brooks Hanson, the Director of Publications for AGU, asked me to extend my term for an additional two years. After a few days of thought and conversations with my wife, I said yes.

So, you have me here for not one but three more years as the EiC of JGR Space Physics.

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            I asked all 4 of my Editors if they wanted to continue, and they also all said yes. You have all 5 of us for 3 more years.

The main reason that I am accepting this extension is that I think that there is still multi-year work to do to improve the quality and impact of the papers in the journal.  We had a great discussion at our JGR Space Physics editorial board meeting in San Francisco, and I would like to see the outcome of the analytics we requested and the implementation of strategies to maximize journal influence. More on this in the blog posts to come over the few days or weeks.

AGU Giving Day 2016 is Thursday

AGU Giving Day is upon us again. They did this last year about this time, too. This year it is this Thursday, December 15, during the #AGU16 Fall AGU Meeting.

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Look for the volunteer brigade in green T-shirts for more information and directions to the kiosks:

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            I make a donation to AGU every year. Specifically, I really like to support the SPA section as well as several of the student and international travel grant funds. Yes, you get to choose the specific funds into which your gift is credited. AGU has a long list of funds, so have a look; I hope that there is one that catches your interest as a place where you can help our community. When you are ready, visit one of the kiosks in the various Moscone Center lobbies on Thursday, or go online to the campaign website.  I love my job and I am glad that AGU exists as a scientific society within which space physics has found a good home. I love the international flavor of the meetings and the fact that so many students can attend.  So, I give to AGU to help create the community in which I want to participate.

Note that when you give as an individual, you are helping out the AGU section with which you are primarily affiliated. AGU has a Section and Focus Group Incentive Program to encourage member giving. As the percentage of SPA membership that participates increases, AGU makes a larger contribution into the section-specific account. Of AGU’s 60,000+ members, ~2800 have SPA as their primary affiliation. So, it only takes ~140 people for the kickbacks to start kicking in.

In addition, AGU is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and while I am not qualified to give tax advice, this designation makes it eligible for tax-deductible gift contributions. If you are working in the US at a level above postdoc, then my guess is that your income is such that you are able to make a $50 or more donation to AGU (and therefore count in the incentive program). I hope that you are also willing.

As a special incentive this year, a gift of $20 or more will secure a vintage AGU t-shirt (while supplies last). They will have these at all of the donation kiosks around the Moscone Center.

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Pretty fun, eh? I’ve already given this year but I might give again on Thursday just to get one of these.

AGU’s New Journal: GeoHealth

AGU has a new journal that’s now accepting articles, GeoHealth.

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The Wiley website for the journal is here and there is a nice write-up about it at the AGU Publications pages here. There was also an Eos article about the launch of this journal and a From the Prow blog post by the AGU CEO Chris McEntee a year ago, when AGU started working towards this journal concept. Here’s the banner ad that you might have seen above a paper at the Wiley website:

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            The full aims and scope statement:

GeoHealth, a new fully Open Access journal, will publish original research, reviews, policy discussions, and commentaries that cover the growing science on the interface among the Earth, atmospheric, oceans and environmental sciences, ecology, and the agricultural and health sciences. Key topics will be the impacts of global change on human and agricultural health and disease and ecosystem health and services, a wide variety of global and local issues will be covered, including air pollution, use and impact and environmental persistence of herbicides and pesticides, radiation and health, water pollution, and geomedicine. Many of these topics are of critical importance in the developing world.

Like the other journals, it has a “swoosh” logo. Simple yet clear:

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            The Founding Editor of GeoHealth is Rita Colwell. Yes, that Rita Colwell, the former Director of the NSF. She is now a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, in their Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

While it is only tangentially relevant for most JGR Space Physics readers and authors, I thought I would publicize it here because it is the first new journal launch in a couple of years, since Earth and Space Science in December 2014. Also, publication fees are waived for all eventually-accepted manuscripts that are submitted by January 31, 2017. Yes, it has a GEMS website up and running.

Plain Language Summaries

Since early fall, all AGU journals, including JGR Space Physics, now have the option at submission of including a Plain Language Summary of the work. This is intended for promoting the work to those beyond the specific discipline. I hope that you write one for every new submission. I mentioned this yesterday as one of the submission details that you should add to your manuscript template. This will make you think about it long before you are halfway through the submission process at the GEMS website and reach this text box and suddenly have to come up with words for it. Do it as your write the paper, and have the coauthors critique it and hone the wording of this paragraph. I think that this is an important development for AGU journals.

My unscientific reading of a bunch of manuscripts tells me that most Abstracts in JGR Space Physics are written at a level that can be understood by most others who conduct some kind of research across the broad field of space physics. That said, I think that not many beyond this discipline would really understand most of our Abstracts. AGU has recognized that this is a problem; scientists often write with themselves in mind for the readership, and this means that Abstracts contain too much detail and field-specific technical content for others to truly understand the work. This is a particularly acute problem for space physics, but even for other science disciplines within the AGU umbrella, various reasons (terminology, methodology, or the nuances of what is meaningful and important) make cutting edge scientific results difficult for the non-expert to decipher.

For most journals, this isn’t a big problem, as the readership often includes only those in the field. For journals like GRL or Earth and Space Science, however, which include papers from across all AGU sections and science disciplines, this poses a problem for the full journal audience (i.e., all of AGU) to at least get the basic premise and major findings of those papers not in their specific field.

In addition, AGU would also like to promote the papers in its journals beyond the normal intra-discipline readership circles. For a long time, AGU staff have been writing Research Spotlight articles about a few selected papers from each journal each month. This is time-consuming for them and they don’t have the budget to increase the workforce dedicated to it. The Plain Language Summary is a way for the authors to provide a concise write-up of the work for people outside of the immediate field. This promotion of papers goes beyond the scientist membership of AGU, too. It extends to science writers and journalists, science enthusiasts, and even science skeptics.

AGU has put a length limit of Plain Language Summaries: they can be 200 words maximum. This is a bit less than the 250-word limit on the “regular” Abstract for a manuscript in JGR Space Physics. You should strive to remove jargon and technical terms, remove complicated phrasing, leave out the details, and focus on the big idea of the paper. In this short write-up of your work, convey the reason you conducted the study, one or two key points about the methodology, one or two key findings, and a quick summary of the implications. A sentence or two per section of the paper, tops.

This isn’t just extra work for you, greater reach for our science results and helping scientists communicate their findings more broadly is something that AGU is actively promoting. Note that AGU has a blog dedicated to this topic called “The Plainspoken Scientist.”

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            Plain Language Summaries just became available for JGR Space Physics a couple of months ago and I haven’t actually seen one in print yet. I hope that they clearly display it with the paper, near or even above the technical Abstract. In my quick survey of recent submissions, it looks like over half of new manuscripts are including something in this GEMS text box during submission. That’s great! I hope that you will take this seriously and write well-crafted summaries of your work for the non-expert. I welcome this addition to the overhead of submitting a paper to an AGU journal because, over the long term, I think that it will help our field and the science literacy of the world.

 

More Manuscript Template Tweaks

This year, AGU released new manuscript templates in Word and LaTeX for paper authors to use, which I wrote about this summer, and in September I had a post on some easy tweaks to make them a nicer for reviewers and editors. This month, I had the opportunity to work through the GEMS system as an author and I thought up a few other beneficial tweaks to the templates. These are things that GEMS asks of you, so you might as well be thinking about it before you at the online submission site.

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            Here are the 4 additional items that I encourage everyone to start including in your template so that you think about it before you are at the GEMS the submission page. I would insert them before or after the Abstract, below the title and authors but above the main article text.

Paper Type: acceptable paper types for AGU journals are found here. By far the most common for JGR Space Physics is the Research Article, but we consider all of the other paper types (except those reserved for GRL, as indicated). Because the reviewing criteria are different for each paper type, it’s very helpful for reviewers and editors to see the paper type right there, embedded near the top of the article file.

AGU Index Terms: You have to select a primary index term for your paper, plus up to 4 additional index terms. These must be chosen from the official AGU index term list.

Keywords: These are free-form words or phrases that help your paper be electronically discoverable. They can be words from the index term, from the title, or from the main text. You can enter up to 8 words or phrases.

Plain Language Summary: up to 200 words describing your work to those not in space physics. That is, this text should explain the work to a science reporter or scientifically-literate layperson. It should minimize jargon and acronym usage and focus on one or two key points that a smart non-specialist can understand.

This last thing, the plain language summary, is a new request in GEMS as of October. I’ll write more on this in a separate post.

Finally, note that AGU has shuffled the website for author resources content a bit and the manuscript templates now have their own page. This site has checklists for new submissions and revision submissions as well as the template files and instructions on using them. The LaTeX template is also available on Overleaf.

Happy writing!

Pubs Booth at Fall AGU

I’ve gone through the schedule for the Fall AGU Meeting, and once again it will be a full week where I am occasionally supposed to be in several places at once. There is one place where I know I will be a couple of times, and that is the AGU Publications Booth.

Last year the Publications Booth was in the poster hall in Moscone South. Note that this booth is different from the AGU sales display in the main exhibitor hall. The Pubs Booth is a smaller, single countertop stand and banner with no books or journals for sale. It is set up and operated by AGU Pubs staff specifically to answer questions about publishing scientific results with AGU.

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            They ask the Editors in Chief of all of the AGU journals to sign up for times when they will be at the Pubs Booth. Here are the times for the space physics EiCs:

  • Me (JGR Space Physics): Tuesday 11 am – noon and Wednesday 11 am – noon
  • Delores Knipp (Space Weather): Wednesday 8-9 am
  • Phil Wilkinson (Radio Science): Monday 11 am – noon and Thursday 10-11 am
  • Mark Moldwin (Reviews of Geophysics): Monday 1:30-2:30 pm

Stop by and say hello!

I look forward to seeing you at the Fall AGU Meeting, which is now less than a month away.

Finally, join the meeting on social media: #AGU16

Women in Planetary Science Blog

Well, the USA just had its Brexitesque upset vote. Good luck, America. Good luck, World. The one good thing for me last night was that, as I was staying up late anyway, I decided to worked on manuscripts in my queue. It turned into a productive time as I occasionally glanced at the TV, watching the election results come in.

In support of scientific inquiry and in honor of great women, I’d like to share with you the Women in Planetary Science blog. In particular, I would like to point you to the “51+ Women in Planetary Science” list. The first name on the list is my personal favorite, Claudia Alexander. I overlapped with her as U-M PhD students back in the early 1990s. She was assigned to be my grad student mentor, something the departmental grad student organization arranged at that time. It was great talking with her and knowing her over the years. The community suffered a loss with her unfortunate death 16 months ago.

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            There are many other great names on the list, and the links on their names take you to a post of their story and their words of wisdom and advice for others. I encourage everyone to take some time today and read through these articles. They are amazing.

Defining Plagiarism

Happy Halloween; one of the most bizarre holidays ever invented (in my opinion).

To go with my last post, I’d like to continue the conversation on plagiarism. Lots of people are talking about this topic, , and I have several times before. Here’s a graphic on the usage of the word “plagiarism” in the last 200 years:

plagiarism_usage_googlebooks

How did I make this plot? Google has a site that does this.

Here’s a definition of plagiarism from Dictionary.com:

plagiarism: an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author:

            It is not just “language” but “thoughts” as well. AGU can and does check for language overlap, and I and the other editors of JGR Space Physics occasionally send manuscripts back to authors for revision before review to have them rewrite text that is too close to already published papers.

Checking for “idea overlap” is very difficult. The closest that we can come to this is if an editor or reviewer notices that references are missing to key studies of direct relevance. If it is published, then you should give those authors credit for the ideas that they have discussed.

So, I have two pitches to the community.

Authors: please include references all relevant papers. Conduct a literature search at AGU’s EASI database, Harvard’s ADS astronomy abstract service, or Google Scholar. You have lots of resources for this. This is an important step in the scientific method that greatly helps to refine your message to what it truly new and original in your study.

Reviewers: please scrutinize the references, especially in the Introduction and Discussion sections, to ensure that key papers are being cited. It’s one of the questions we ask of you (“Is referencing appropriate?), hoping that this spurs you to read the manuscript with this issue in mind.

Because it’s almost election time here in America, grabbed some hat images and I made up some baseball cap designs that I think we all should be wearing, figuratively if not literally.

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