Commentaries in JGR Space Physics

JGR Space Physics has a new paper style: Commentaries. These are very short articles providing context on some timely topic of general interest to the space physics research community. Example topics might include the following:

  • A recent publications or set of publications, or special issue/collection in JGR Space Physics or any other journal
  • A recent meeting, session, or workshop (without being a report of that workshop)
  • An update of a classic, historical, or highly cited paper (can be the same or a different author) or group of papers
  • A notable anniversary or other event

The emphasis for Commentaries is on context and perspective. It should discuss the broad, important questions of the topic and set the background for the readers. It is essentially an opinion piece, giving the perspective of the author on the chosen subject. For example, regarding special sections, the organizers have the option of writing an Introduction, which is essentially an invited Commentary. This new paper type allows for anyone to provide a similar type of viewpoint paper on the matter addressed by the special section.

The key point is providing context to the rest of the space physics community, addressing the question, “what should we care about this topic?” So, on that note, I am including the graphic from the AGU Space Facebook page site as a multipart image that captures the scope of our discipline:


            What is a Commentary not? It should not be a listing of papers in a special section and a recap of findings. It should not be a reporting of session or presentation titles from a meeting. It should not be a repeat of conclusions from a classic paper. It should not an announcement for an upcoming event or an account of what happened at some event.

Furthermore, a Commentary should not be confused with a Comment. A Comment is a critique of a single paper and is usually accompanied by a Reply from the authors of that original paper. A Commentary should not be so specific as to call into question the methodology or findings of just one paper. In general, a Commentary is not a critique of individual work but a defense of a whole subject; providing additional thoughts on why a particular topic is interesting for community consideration and investigation.

The basic format, as specified by AGU, is as follows:

  • There is a strict limit of 6 Publication Units, a typical length might be ~2000 words and 1-2 figures/tables
  • The first paragraph or two should identify the key issue and provide context on its importance
  • The main body should give the details of the chosen topic but remain at a level that provides broader impact and awareness of the issue
  • The final paragraph should identify still unresolved questions and ideas for future work
  • Jargon specific to a small sub-discipline should be avoided or explained

I have three other points to make about Commentaries. First, there are no publication fees for Commentaries. That’s right; they are free to the authors. AGU would like to launch this new paper type and get us thinking about big-picture context and communicating personal perspectives on timely issues in our field.

Second, they should be submitted through the GEMS site and will go through the regular review process. We might opt to send it to only one reviewer, as we often do with Comment-Reply pairs and special section Introductions. They will be sent out for peer review, though.  Select “Commentary” in the paper type pull-down menu.

Finally, Commentaries, at least those submitted to JGR Space Physics, require approval by the Editorial Board. Please email me or any other Editor of the journal and we will discuss it and get back to you with our decision and possibly feedback and guidance about it.


8 thoughts on “Commentaries in JGR Space Physics

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