No More Editorial Thank Yous

I mentioned in a post a couple of months ago that the editorial thank you to reviewers has stopped being added to the Acknowledgments of papers, as of the fall of 2015 (about 6 months ago). That’s right, this little sentence:


is now no longer added to papers in AGU journals.

As an author: if you think the reviewers deserve a thank you for their suggestions to improve the paper, then please add that to the Acknowledgments section yourself.

Some people have asked me about this, so it is a useful to clarify the reasons for this change. The main points:

  1. They were written individually by AGU staff, requiring a couple of minutes to dig up this information for each paper. That doesn’t seem like much but it adds up for the more than 5000 papers in AGU journals each year.
  2. Many reviewers choose to remain anonymous, so most of these statements were simply identifying the assigned Editor for the paper.
  3. It was decided that the Acknowledgments section is for the authors to thank those who helped make the study possible, including funding sources and data providers, and not an AGU or editorial comment.
  4. In searches of paper content, the editor’s name would be found, lessening the usefulness of some search tools.

JGR Space Physics was one of the last to discontinue this editorial acknowledgment line. AGU had already stopped doing it for most other journals by the time it ended in JGR Space Physics last fall.

The omission of this sentence means that there is no archival record of which Editor handled the paper, nor is there any acknowledgment of the reviewers if they indeed wanted their names known to the community. For the first point: it is not about the Editor. Our names become well known to the space physics research community over the course of our term and that is enough credit (or infamy) for the task. For the second point: authors should include this thank you, if they so choose, and ORCID will now cover the task of public (but aggregated) recognition. By signing up for an ORCID number, the reviewing assignment tallies will be pushed to your ORCID account. The specific papers you reviewed will remain confidential, but the total number per year for each journal will be made public. This is a way for others to independently verify service activities listed on CVs and resumes.

Note that the information is not lost. The Editor and reviewers associated with a manuscript are kept in GEMS. At this point, all information since the beginning of GEMS (in 2002) is still available. This comes in very handy when papers in a series from an author are submitted over the course of several years. Whatever editor is assigned to each paper, they can look up the history of the paper series and see who has served as editors and reviewers in the past, and even read the reviews of those previous papers. This can be tremendously helpful for selecting the right people to serve as reviewers of the new manuscript.

Furthermore, the editorial “thank you” to the reviewers is not lost, either. From now on, AGU will be sending thank you emails to reviewers with a courtesy notice of the editorial decision about the manuscript. For public recognition, we also are now publishing an annual Editorial thanking all reviewers by name, as I mentioned in my last post on reviewer stats. Finally, there is the annual selection the Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Scientific Refereeing. Last year’s names (for 2014) are here, but this year’s Eos article is not out yet, so I will wait on posting the names for 2015. AGU allows us to select a number of reviewers equal to 0.1% of the number of new manuscripts submitted. For 2015, we were able to select 12.

As always, please feel free to comment below, or at Twitter to @liemohnjgrspace or on Facebook (I always post a link to these blog articles at the “AGU Space” page). We look forward to hearing your feedback on this issue.


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