AGU is Changing to eLocators

I mentioned this in a side comment in an earlier post this month and since then I have been waiting for an official announcement from AGU making this public knowledge, which I have not seen yet. As my time as EiC is about to end, I’m using my penultimate post to let you know what the editors know: AGU will shift away from issue-based pagination to eLocators for all of its journals, starting in January 2020. If I see an announcement from AGU HQ about this (probably in an Eos article, maybe as AGU news or a From the Prow or Editors’ Vox post), I’ll include the link in the comments below.


While I am old-fashioned enough to like issue-based page numbers, I think that this is a really good move. The biggest reason for me: you will know your exact reference listing the moment that the paper is accepted, because the eLocator is based on the GEMS manuscript number, just like the eventual DOI.

We were told that the exact format of the eLocator will be this: a lowercase “e” followed by the last 5 digits of the manuscript number. So, for my grad student’s recent paper, the manuscript number of 2019JA026636 becomes an eLocator of “e26636” and a digital object identifier of The only confusion is that most AGU journals have 6 digits after the two-letter journal designation, so you will have to drop the leading zero (or one, as GRL is about to roll over into that sixth digit). There is also the yearly rollover, if your paper is accepted in November or December that the publication year could be the following year, but there is no way around that. Overall, though, I think it will mean less citation errors because this eLocator is much simpler than a seemingly arbitrarily assigned page number range.

Like I said, I think that this is a good thing. It definitely means less work for Wiley, so issues will most likely appear online earlier in the month. Right now, an issue of JGR Space Physics usually appears in the third week of the month, sometimes even the fourth (for example, the November 2019 issue of JGR Space Physics was posted on December 26). We have relatively large issues (50-70 papers a month), and the issue-based pagination took time to do and then double check. No more! While there will still be pagination within the PDF version of each paper, it starts at one for every article, so it doesn’t matter if the final published version of a paper has ten or eleven pages, this uncertainty will not influence the pagination for the rest of the papers in the same issue. That November 2019 issue, by the way, goes from pages 8173 to 9754, over 1500 pages that the production staff had to make sure was properly formatted and paginated from beginning to end before it was released. JGR Space Physics will once again go over 10,000 pages (and probably over 700 papers).

I really hope that this change leads to issues being officially released earlier in the month, and also to better citation accuracy for papers in AGU journals. I am looking forward to it. I hope that you like it too.


ESSOAr Transfer for All AGU Journals

Back in June, JGR Space Physics became one of the journals to pilot a one-click transfer within GEMS to have your new submission simultaneously posted on ESSOAr, the Earth and Space Science Open Archive. This pilot program has been deemed a success, with 30% of authors opting to post their new submission at ESSOAr. AGU is now expanding this option to be available for all 22 of its journals. Here’s a fun graphic I made with the journals to which a space physicist might submit a manuscript.


I highly encourage you to click this little button the next time that you are submitting to an AGU journal. Also, I highly encourage you to sign up for regular content alerts from ESSOAr, which will allow you to see the latest from your colleagues, even before it is officially published.

Preprint servers have benefits for scientific advancement, but remember the warnings about them, too. The biggest warning is that preprint servers are not a replacement for peer-reviewed journals because anything can be posted there. Well, not quite anything, there is an advisory board that does a light screening for topic-appropriate content, but this group does not rigorously examine the study. That’s the job of the journal editor and the reviewers who provide assessments of the work. While the preprint server can help speed up the flow of scientific discovery, it cannot replace the vetting done by a reputable peer-reviewed journal. In general, do not cite an older preprint at such a server (say, more than a year old), but instead cite the accepted and published version of that work once it makes it into a journal. If it does not have a published companion version in a peer-reviewed journal within a year of posting on a preprint server, then please ignore that preprint.

That is, using preprint servers requires community buy-in to the concept that such papers are not “real” papers yet, but only “extra-early view” versions of a work that might change significantly before reaching the version of record in a peer-reviewed journal. In fact, it might never reach that level. Preprint servers issue a DOI to every approved submission, so they become “permanently” accessible on the web, but we have to know that old preprints without a version in a peer-reviewed journal should be ignored.

That said, I think that they provide a net benefit to the community. I hope that you do, too.

Giving to AGU – One Last Pitch

I have written several times about donating extra money to AGU; I am writing one more time. Why? Because I believe in what AGU does. It is our scholarly society and I want it to thrive.


In addition to paying annual dues, I give to several of the funds. Here are the ones to which I have given over the past few years:

  • Space Physics and Aeronomy Section Fund
  • Carl “Max” Hammond Student Travel Endowment Fund
  • Basu Award Fund
  • Austin Student Travel Endowment
  • Ashour-Abdalla Scholarship in Space Physics Fund
  • Education and Career Services Fund:

Note that I have not given to the “AGU General Fund” in recent years. I target my giving to specific causes within the long list of funds. Here is some more info about the funds I have chosen in recent years:

Giving to the section allows SPA to have flexibility in creating new events and programs targeted at our research community.

The Max Hammond Fund helps first-time student attendees, and was created in memory of a space physicist who died in the 9/11 tragedy.

Giving to the Basu Award Fund increases the annual award amount for the two early career awards that Sunanda and Satimay Basu have set up for our section, the US focused one and the international one.

The Austin Student Travel Endowment is new this year to increase student travel support to the Fall AGU Meeting. Every dollar donated to it by December 31 is matched by Jamie Austin (this is his Austin Challenge), an AGU Board member who believes in the cause of our society. I am told that this Challenge has over $600K donations already, but there is still plenty more room for additional donations that will be matched.

For the last one on my list, here is the description from the website: “This fund supports teacher workshops, student programs, and diversity initiatives.”

Maha Ashour-Abdalla was a longtime space physics faculty member at UCLA. After her untimely death a few years ago, this fund was established in her memory to give out scholarships to women starting graduate careers in space physics.

For the last one on my list, here is the description from the website: “This fund supports teacher workshops, student programs, and diversity initiatives.”

These are just the ones I like. There are lots of funds that AGU has created and they continue to create new ones. Go to the AGU Giving site and, a bit down the page, click on the “Funds” tab, and start scrolling and clicking to learn more.

Finally, AGU has an incentive program for donations based on the percentage of the section’s membership that gives (to any AGU Fund). If 5% or more of a section’s membership donates to AGU, then AGU contributes $1,000 to $5,000 to that section (from the general fund). Any level of gift to any AGU Fund contributes to this percentage of participation.


Membership gets you access to the digital archive of AGU journals

Hello from the Fall AGU Meeting in San Francisco. In a recent From the Prow article, AGU Executive Director Chris McEntee revealed a new benefit of AGU membership for 2020: free access to the “digital archive.” This archive being referred to is the collection of journal volumes from 1996 and older.


The story is that a peculiar thing happened on the way to journal digitization. In 2002, AGU went digital, making the online paper the version of record. At that time, they did away with full-issue page numbering (which is being resurrected…that might be tomorrow’s post) and digitized a few years back of all journal content (to the beginning of 1997). A few years later, then hired a company to scan all of the older volumes of all of their journals, completing the digital archive. This cost AGU quite a bit of money, however, to digitize 100 years of journal content and the two-step process created a dichotomy in the PDFs. When AGU partnered with Wiley for the publication of all of their journals, they announced that the newer set of papers, from January 1997 onward, would have a different accessibility deal than the older papers. In fact, there are three stages of accessibility: those papers less than 24 months from publication require a subscription unless the journal is open access or the authors paid extra for open access. From January 1997 to a rolling timeline of 24 months before the present, all of these papers are made open access. From December 1996 on back to the first issue of JGR (actually, Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity) in 1896, one must have a personal or institutional subscription to get access. It seems a bit strange but I think that they wanted to recoup some of the cost of that massive digitization effort.

With this new announcement, that older digital archive will now be open access with an active AGU membership. This includes all journal content across the family of AGU publications. I commend this move and greatly appreciate the new availability to these older papers. There are many “classics” among this archive and I applaud the move to allow AGU members full access to these seminal papers (and all of the others from the time).

I see another zinger of a line in McEntee’s article: “AGU will also continue to offer a free book annually as another member offering.” Continue?! I know about the free e-book on Writing Scientific Research Articles but is this something different? I will have to ask about this and get back to all of you. By the way, I have a couple of vouchers for this Cargill and O’Connor e-book that I can give you if you ask for it. I think that I can still get more.

Yet another “by the way,” in the “From the Prow” banner image above, that’s the top corner of the AGU building, with a conference room named “The Prow” that has a nice view of DC.

At the AGU Building

I’m at AGU HQ for the Meetings Committee meeting. Yes, such a thing exists, and yes, I am on it, as an editorial liaison between publications and meetings. It was an excellent meeting, talking about strategic directions for AGU.

The AGU building has undergone a renovation over the past 2+ years and staff are now fully settled into their new spaces back at 2000 Florida Avenue. I like this building. They have turned it into a net-zero energy building, which will be fully completed very soon, once the solar panels are installed on the roof. It includes an urban twist on geothermal energy and plant-centered air purification, electrochromic windows, rainwater collection and usage, and a massive recycling and reuse effort as part of the renovation. Here is a view from the top floor “Prow” conference room:


Okay, it’s a gray day here in DC today. Maybe not the best at selling it, but trust me, it’s a nice view.

You can learn more about the renovation of the AGU building and all of its innovative technologies and features. More pictures and info are at these two blog posts from March 2019 and May 2017, too. Once fully complete, energy usage and production can be remotely followed on a virtual dashboard, so you can see how AGU is doing towards its net-zero goal. I am told that this renovation is a first-of-its-kind in DC (renovating a commercial building to be net-zero) and it is serving as a model for other urban renovation projects.

Remember, too, that the first floor has a very nice member lounge, so if you are ever in DC, feel free to stop by AGU HQ and hang out. The first floor and lower level have meeting rooms that can be reserved, too. In fact, next year, there will be several Chapman Conference here in the big first-floor room! I think that this is a great move for AGU, opening up the building to the society membership and the local community.