I have one more year as Editor in Chief of JGR Space Physics. The initial term was 4 years and then I was asked to extend my stay for an extra two years, which I did. With the change-over of the calendar, I am entering my sixth (and last) year as EiC. This is it.
With this final year, I plan to focus on a few things with this blog. First and foremost, I will continue to keep you informed about new publications policies and practices. That’s the main reason for this blog’s existence and I will continue to post updates from AGU HQ and my editorial team. Second, I will start detailing what I do as EiC. In 300-500 word chunks, I will tell you about my workflow and decision-making process. This will hopefully help the next EiC understand this job, at least as I do it (which is very close to how my predecessors did it). Third, I will be recapping editorials from year’s past. I’ve started this but haven’t written many, so I will be making this one of my priorities for the year ahead.
A good editorial to kick off the new year is the one written by Bob Lysak, Philippa Browning, and Masaki Fujimoto back in 2012 entitled, “How JGR Works.” This, actually, is the brief version of everything I will write for point #2 above. A longer version is Alex Dessler’s editorial from 1972, which I discussed earlier.
This 2012 version of the workflow is basically what we follow right now. Papers are first checked by AGU HQ staff and perhaps iterated with the author to get it compliant with AGU journal requirements, then it is sent to me where I assign it to one of the 7 editors (including myself). That editor then does a check for appropriateness for the journal, English usage, and cross-check overlap. It could be sent back to the author at this point. If not, then the editor selects several potential reviewers and starts sending emails. Hopefully, two are secured quickly and the reviews come back three weeks later. The editor then makes their first decision on the manuscript. If the decision is to revise, then it comes back to that same editor, and could go back to the reviewers.
A key point from the 2012 editorial is paragraph #7 on the decision-making process. Here is the lead-off text: “It is important to note that the final decision on whether a paper is to be published rests with the editor in charge. Good reviews help us make this decision, but the reviewers do not approve or reject the papers themselves.” We greatly appreciate the work that ~1500 reviewers do for the journal every year, and we usually follow those recommendations. Sometimes, however, two reviewers provide conflicting recommendations, and then it is up to the editor. We have several paths that we take to resolve these discrepancies; I’ll write about those in future posts. Reviewers, please know that your assessments are always taken very seriously but sometimes the editor will decide differently from your recommendation. This can go in both directions, because the editor might eventually side with either the positive or negative reviewer. If you truly dislike a paper that was published against your recommendation, then you are always free to write a Comment on it, to formally air your grievances and give the authors the chance to rebut.