Outstanding Reviewers for 2017

Every year, AGU asks the editors of each journal to come up with a list of recipients for the reviewing excellence award. We had 1124 manuscripts submitted to JGR Space Physics in 2017, so the editors could choose up to 11 people to receive this award. This is a nearly impossible task, as we had 1,448 different people serve as reviewers for the journal in 2017. To further complicate it, 11 does not divide 5 ways, so it is not an even split among the editors.

2017RefereeingExcellence

            So, first let me say thank you to all of the 1,448 scientists that provided one or more reviews for JGR Space Physics last year. Every single one of you is vitally important to making this journal what it is. Your name is in print in our thank you editorial, which appeared in the June 2018 issue. The journal could not exist without the collective input of so many members of the research community.

There was an Eos article, also in June, listing the 2017 reviewing excellence award winners. I sometimes remember to write a blog post about these awardees, but I also forget to do this on other years. We select these awardees in March, the decision is a groupwide vote after we all suggest 2 to 5 names, but I have to wait until after the Eos article comes out before I announce anything here. This year, I remembered! So, here it is.

            The 2017 awardees for JGR Space Physics are as follows:

  • Maciej Bzowski, Space Research Center, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Pascal Demoulin, Observatoire de Paris
  • Robyn Fiori, Geomagnetic Laboratory, Natural Resources Canada
  • Michael Gedalin, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
  • James Hecht, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Erin Lay, Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Noé Lugaz, University of New Hampshire
  • Robert Marshall, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Evgeny Panov, Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Jack Scudder, University of Iowa
  • Paul Withers, Boston University
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Editor Preference Selection

When submitting a manuscript to JGR Space Physics, one of the optional steps is to indicate a preference for editor.

JGRSpace-editor-list

I am writing this post to tell you a few things about this selection:

  1. After the manuscript goes through its quality control and compliance checks with an AGU HQ publications staffer, it appears in my GEMS workflow. I see every paper submitted to JGR Space Physics. After I read the author list, key points, and abstract, I then assign it to an editor. If I assign it to myself, then it stays in my workflow. If I assign it to someone else, then it is out of my hands. This takes somewhere between 30 seconds and a few minutes for each paper. Sometimes I follow up with an email to the editor, if I saw something about the manuscript that I think the editor really needs to know.
  2. You don’t have to pick anyone from the list. Just leave it at “none/no preference” and I will assign the editor based on the topic and the relative workloads of the editors.
  3. Selecting someone is no guarantee that I will assign it to that editor. I could give it to someone else. I consider each request seriously but cannot always honor them.
  4. Please don’t pick an editor at the same institution as you or any of your coauthors. And yes, I treat all of Goddard Space Flight Center as one very large institute, so he is conflicted with everyone working there. And also yes, if you work for one of the usual contractors at GSFC, then I will check your address to see if you are there or somewhere else. If you work at Goddard, then please do not pick Kepko as your preferred editor; I will ignore that request.
  5. The two new editors, Drs. Viviane Pierrard and Natalia Ganushkina, are available for selection. I am slowly ramping up their assigned-paper rate to match that of the other editors, so please feel free to select their names.
  6. Please don’t select “Test Editor” from the list. This is there for, well, testing, as well as for Editorial manuscripts involving all of the editors, like the annual Reviewer Thank You. This is an obvious statement, but just to be clear: if you choose it, then I will ignore that request.

There is also an optional step for selecting an editor with whom you are conflicted. Those I nearly always honor. The conflict can be institutional (you or a coauthor are at the same place as an editor), professional (that editor has criticized your work in the past), or personal (you have had a bad experience with that editor). Please leave a note about the conflict. Only an AGU staffer and I will see those notes; please know that we keep them confidential. If you indicate that you have a conflict with me, well, then just leave the notes section blank!

Reprise of the New Reference Format

A year ago, I wrote about AGU’s new style guide for formatting papers in its journals. There was also an Eos article about this change there is even a brief guide available. It’s been a year, so let’s recap the change and see how it has been going.

AGU_Style_Guide_banner

            For the most part, this new format follows the style guide from the American Psychological Association (APA), which is a rule-set that has been slowly taking over as the format of choice for scholarly publishing. The big change that most people notice right away is in reference and citation formatting. But, you know what, AGU’s use of italics for citations in the main text was an anomaly in academic publishing. Nearly every other journal in solar, space, and planetary physics had already made the switch to the APA style, some of them decades ago. I can point to example papers that show the APA style in use for Annales Geophysicae, Space Science Reviews, JASTP, Solar Physics, The Astrophysical Journal, Earth Planets and Space, Planetary and Space Science, Icarus, the Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate, and Advances in Space Research. Yeah, there were many journals already doing this! There are still a few publishers of space physics articles that are using superscripts for citation callouts, like Nature, Science, and Physics of Plasmas, but as for the space physics journals using italics for citations…um, yeah, just the AGU journals, as far as I can tell. In addition to this compatibility pressure from the other journals within Earth and space science, most of Wiley’s other scholarly journals were already using this style, so this change should help their workflow and reduce production errors.

There is one deviation from the official APA style guide being enforced by AGU. The APA style says that the first citation of a paper with up to 5 authors should list all authors. Subsequent citations of papers with 3 to 5 authors should then just use the “et al.” designation after the first author’s name. AGU doesn’t do this first usage expansion of the author list; citations of all papers with 3 or more authors get to use “et al.” after the first author at every instance in the paper. This deviation is much appreciated!

Authors: if you are trying to follow APA style and are expanding author lists in the main text beyond two-author papers, then please stop. You don’t have to do this. You can just use “et al.” instead, even at the first usage.

There is one exception to this author name list guidance. When there are two papers by the same first author in the same year, and the coauthor lists are different within the first 6 names, then, instead of using the “a” and “b” designations after the date, the coauthor names should be listed until the two papers are uniquely identified. As far as I can tell, this is the only time when more than two author names should ever appear in a citation in the main text in an AGU journal. Unfortunately, the papers will have the multiple-name citations at every cite-listing of this paper throughout the article.

For an example of this, see the first paragraph of the Introduction of this paper – there are citations to two Eastwood et al. (2017) papers, but those two papers have different second authors. So, there in the first paragraph, is a citation to “Eastwood, Biffis, et al., 2017”, which looks a bit odd to readers that are used to the old style. If the two papers had the same author list (through the first 6 names), then they would have used the “a” and “b” designations after the date. Note that the Owens et al. (2017) paper, also cited in the first paragraph, has 3 authors, but it is simply “Owens et al. (2017)” because the article only cites one paper by this author from that year. This is the AGU deviation from APA style kicking in.

Why the cutoff at 6 authors for this usual citation method? In the reference list, APA style has a particular rule set for how many authors to list. For papers with up to 7 authors, you should list them all. For papers with 8 or more authors, you should only list the first 6 names, and then put “et al.” in place of the 2 or more names remaining. It used to be that you would list up to 10 authors, and for papers with 11 or more, you only listed the first author and replaced everyone else’s name with “et al.” Now, we will see the first 6 names before “et al.” kicks in. If you are author #7 on an 8-author paper, then, well, sorry, but you are like author #2 on an 11-author paper in the old formatting style.

There is one more thing about citations in the main text that is different from before, and which is causing some angst with space physicists. It is the rearrangement of the citations within a single cluster of paper references. The old style was to list them chronologically, while the APA style lists them alphabetically. Yeah, when you are grouping a bunch of citations together in the main text, the oldest is not necessarily listed first, it could be anywhere in the grouping, depending on the first author’s last name. It is possible to pull one of the citations out and force it to be first in the grouping, with a “see also” between the seminal paper and the other citations in the group. We have to change how we write, at least a bit, if we want to highlight the initial discovery papers or seminal papers on a topic.

Authors: if you object to how a Wiley production staffer rearranges your citations (i.e., into alphabetical order), then change the sentence around so you make it a running text citation:

…was addressed by Smith (1997) and Jones (1999).

rather than a parenthetical citation:

…was addressed (Jones, 1999; Smith, 1997).

Wording changes like this can be done during production.

I am hearing some complaints about the new look. I sympathize with those that are having a difficult time adjusting to the new citation and referencing style. Citations will no longer pop out in their italic font the way they used to. We might occasionally see more than one author name in a citation, and not just for two-author references. We will see a lot more ampersands in papers now, as “&” is replacing “and” for parenthetical citations of two-author references. We have to get used to a new look to papers in JGR Space Physics and other AGU journals, and we might even have to learn to write sentences in a way to highlight certain papers in a group citation.

If you are vehemently against it, then I can take your concerns up the chain at AGU HQ. In addition, you can complain to a member of the AGU Publications Committee, which is the group that sets policy on things like this. There could be additional deviations from APA style adopted, I don’t know. I am pretty sure that the new style is here to stay, though.

DORA and the JIF

No, this isn’t a young Latina’s adventure story about mantequilla de maní (or crema de cacahuate, or one of the other translations for peanut butter). DORA is the Declaration on Research Assessment and is a call to action to put less reliance on the Journal Impact Factor (JIF). This is timely because the new JIFs for 2017 were just released this week.

DORA - logo@2x_withblack

            I particularly like the “general recommendation” of DORA:

  • Do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.

It is a simple yet powerful message – the JIF (or any other journal metric) is not a measure of the quality and impact of any individual paper in that journal.

For 2017, the JIF for JGR Space Physics is 2.752, which is ever-so-slightly higher than last year’s JIF. A few notes about it:

  • Remember that the JIF is calculated only from citations in one year to papers published in the previous two years. It is an average of a highly skewed, non-Guassian, positive-definite distribution of a very small subset of full journal content.
  • I like to only quote the JIF to two significant figures, so this year’s value is 2.8, which, due to rounding, appears as a small improvement over last year’s 2.7 value.
  • There are other journal metrics out there and I haven’t yet seen these values for 2017.
  • The JIF for Space Weather is 2.9, the first time that that journal’s JIF is bigger than the JIF for JGR Space Physics. Way to go, Space Weather!
  • AGU’s few-year-old journal Earth and Space Science received its first JIF this year, coming in at 3.2. Awesome job, ESS!
  • The journal had significant growth in terms of papers published from 2015 to 2016, up by 42, which is more than 5%. The Scholarly Kitchen just had a post a couple of weeks ago stating that journal growth lowers JIF. So, the fact that the journals JIF went up means that the citations outpaced the negative impacts of growth.
  • Historically, the citation rate to articles in JGR Space Physics are rather constant with time, so that a ~10 year old paper has ~29 citations, on average. This is just how our research community likes to cite papers and it would take a massive cultural shift to alter this trend.
  • JGR Space Physics historically has a “cited half life” of at or above 10 years, which means that a 10-year-old paper with X citations will, on average, end up with roughly 2X as its eventual total citation count.
  • Nearly all papers in JGR Space Physics receive at least one citation, which is not the case for nearly half of the papers in the vast Web of Science database.

In summary, I think that the journal is doing very well. Thanks for continuing to support it. Finally, while the post was mostly about the new JIF, I’d like to leave it where I started, on the positive future outlook of DORA, in which we put the JIF in proper perspective according to its strengths and weaknesses as a journal metric, and especially stop using it to assess individual research articles or investigators.

New JGR Space Physics Website

In case you didn’t notice, the look of the JGR Space Physics website, and all of the AGU journal sites, changed just a bit a few months ago. Wiley has a new underlying software platform for these journals, a platform called literatum, created by Atypon. To the user, the front end should be nearly identical to what it was before. On the back end, the compatibility and adaptability of the structure is much easier, and access to the content is more straightforward and reconfigurable.JGRSpace_homepage_June2018

For the most part, the new website is the same as the old one. It still has the same tabs along the top for browsing papers, highlights, and special collections. In “browse articles” you still have recently published, accepted articles, and most cited. The latest issue is still a link in the upper right. Other useful links are still down the right column and at the bottom of the page.

One of the bigger changes for users is the search tool, the little magnifying glass in the upper right corner. This is a more robust and readily understandable search tool. I use it regularly for finding potential reviewers – researchers who have recently authored a similar paper in an AGU journal.

There are still a few unresolved issues with the transition to this software platform. Most notably, the “special collection” listing and organization still has some glitches. The new software will be, I am told, much better for this function, eventually. The old software limited papers to be associated with, at most, one special collection. That will not be the case with this platform. I am told that creating new special collections was an involved and tedious process. The new software is supposed to allow for very quick creations of collections of published papers. For example, are you organizing a conference? We can put together a special collection around the conference topic, listing all of the seminal papers in the field as well as the latest research results, all in one place. I’m told that this isn’t quite working just yet, but it is coming very soon.

Please send in any feedback that you have about the website. Wiley and Atypon are working to make this new site fully functional to meet the needs of AGU and the Earth and space science research community, and suggestions will be taken seriously.