AGU Centennial

The American Geophysical Union is turning 100 years old next year. The society has launched a major campaign to celebrate this triple-digit milestone of existence. They even have a nice logo:


Details of the design of this logo are explained here.

There will be special events at both the 2018 and 2019 Fall AGU Meetings, one kicking off the festivities and the other wrapping it up. Note that the 2018 Meeting will be in Washington DC, with tours of the renovated now-net-zero AGU building. One of the big activities going on right now is the AGU Narratives Project, a joint activity with StoryCorps to record conversations about our experiences conducting Earth and space science.

JGR Space Physics is participating in the Centennial in several ways. Firstly, AGU is asking all of the journals to have a series of papers on Grand Challenges in their field. We are working on this. Secondly, we are making plans for a written version of the AGU Narratives project, a collection of papers from the pioneers of space physics. JGR Space Physics actually had a special issue on this exact topic over twenty years ago. There was also a book, a couple years later, entitled, “Discovery of the Magnetosphere.” We will be doing this again. We are also actively taking part in and coordinating with the AGU Centennial celebration planning.

To lead all of this, I have appointed one of the journal editors, Larry Kepko, to be the coordinator of our activities. He has fully embraced this role and is coming up with some good ways to have space physics to be integrally involved in the Centennial celebrations. If you have questions or comments about this, you can contact either him or me.

To make time for this, Dr. Kepko is pulling back a bit from the normal duties of being assigned “regular” submissions to the journal. I will still be assigning him a few papers, but far less than before. So, when you submit a manuscript, you can still request him as your preferred editor, but there is less chance that I will assign it to him because I am intentionally keeping his manuscript workload down.

This new role for Dr. Kepko, combined with a slowly increasing number of manuscript submissions over the years, is the need for adding two new editors to the JGR Space Physics board. The announced application deadline was yesterday (February 23), but you can still submit for a couple more days. I am off to the Editor-in-Chief meeting, which will occupy my time for the first half of next week. So, the deadline is unofficially extended until February 28. On March 1, when I am back in my office, I will start coordinating with the others on the search committee to begin the selection process. So, there is still time to apply for this position. If you have any questions, then please send me an email, or contact any of the current editors.


Annotating Manuscripts with

A few months ago, AGU introduced a new feature in GEMS – annotating the merged PDF of the manuscript. Senior AGU Pubs staff wrote an Eos Editors’ Vox article about it. AGU has partnered with, an online annotation tool, so that reviewers can highlight text and insert comments. Editors can then add additional comments before making a decision about the paper. The comments are labeled “reviewer 1,” “Editor,” etc., so that the author can identify which of the assessors made the remark. During the revision process, authors can respond to these comments directly in the annotated PDF.


            I have used it a couple of times and I have seen ~10 reviewers use it over the last few months. I think it works really well, so it is it time to publicize this feature and make the community aware of this powerful resource.

When you agree to review a manuscript, you will see this new section on the review page:


It’s just below the link to retrieve the paper and the link for submitting your review. When you click on it, you get a new browser window with the manuscript PDF:


This page already has several sections of text highlighted with example comments written. There are controls across the top bar for navigating around the document. When you highlight some text, a small pop-up window appears below it with the word “annotate” in it:


This opens a text box in the right-hand column in which you can type your comment:


The “You” at the top indicates the originator of the comment, then the highlighted text is repeated, and then a box for writing your comment, including rich text features like inserting hyperlinks, images, and LaTeX-based equations. Along the bottom of the text box is a row of buttons for specifying the type of remark you are making. Is it an overview comment? Pick “Summary.” Do you want to designate it as a “major” or “minor” concern? Go for it. Are you suggesting a small English usage correction? Then pick “Edit.” Are you suggesting a new reference or two, or commenting on a figure? Click that button, then. Finally, there is a “Confidential?” button that you can click if the remark is just to the Editor and not meant for the author. I promise to look through the comments and read these.

Back on the main reviewer page, you can actually see if there are annotations on the “annotated merged PDF.” It should appear as a new link, “Show Summary Table,” like this:


When you click on this, all of the comments in the PDF are shown:


Nice, huh?

Note that you still need to click the link on the main reviewer page to complete the review:


You should answer the pull-down-menu questions and fill in any comments you want in the review text box. It is helpful if you, at the least include a sentence like, “Please see my detailed comments in the online annotated PDF.” This reminds the Editor to go to the annotated PDF and see your comments there. It is also helpful to include a short paragraph summary of your review there. In fact, you can make your review a hybrid of the two, with major comments in the review text box and specific comments embedded in the annotated PDF.

In addition to the Eos article and this blog, there are also more detailed author instructions, reviewer instructions, and even editor instructions at the AGU website. The website also has a really good tutorial. Also, one caveat: it is an interactive web-based tool, so you have to be online to use it.

Also, this whole thing is optional. You don’t have to use it. So far, I’d say that most reviewers do not use it. But most reviewers could be using it, so please consider it. Many reviews include line-identified comments, and this new feature should be easier than typing the location coordinates into your review.

New JGR Space Physics Editor Search

We seek two new Editors to join the board of the Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics. These are additional positions that will expand the editorial board from five to seven. The deadline for application submissions is 23 February 2018.


            Applicants should be dynamic, well-organized, independent-minded, and even-handed scientists with robust knowledge of space physics. As editor you should be committed to further strengthening JGR Space Physics as a leading journal in this field and be proactive in attracting innovative contributions in traditional disciplines and in emerging areas. Applicants from all fields of space physics across the journal’s full aims and scope are welcome.

Editors have several job duties. First and foremost is handling the reviewer assignments and decisions for manuscripts submitted to the journal. You could also be called upon for consultation about manuscripts assigned to other editors. There is an expectation of promoting the journal, especially at conferences you attend, and helping to write highlights of selected papers published in the journal. We hold regular teleconferences throughout the year, as well as a full editorial board meeting at the Fall AGU Meeting, to discuss management and strategic goals of the journal. The expected time commitment of a JGR Space Physics editor is ~5 hours per week.

The term for these new editors would be 4 years with a flexible start date soon after selection. This term extends past the end date of the other editors, creating a bridge to the next Editor in Chief and board. Questions regarding the scope of work and editorial philosophy should contact me. AGU has written guidelines to editors. The search committee is committed to diversity and highly encourages women and minorities to apply. The journal serves a world-wide community of space physics researchers and international applicants are welcome.

If you would like to be considered for one of these Editor positions with JGR Space Physics, please send your curriculum vitae with a letter of interest via email to If you would like to nominate a highly qualified colleague, then please send a letter of recommendation to the same email address. Please make sure that you specify “JGR Space Physics Editor Search” in the subject line of the email.

      Review of applications will begin immediately after the submission deadline. Again, the deadline for applications is 23 February 2018.

The New AGU Journals App

AGU and Wiley have just released a new mobile device app for AGU journals. I have now downloaded it and surfed around a bit on it. My quick assessment can be summed up by the neighborhood boy in the movie, The Incredibles: “That was totally wicked!

They have had an app for mobile devices since before I became EiC of JGR Space Physics, and it has even undergone some upgrades. This is an extensive redesign. They have integrated all of the individual journal apps into a single app, and my initial experience with it was fantastic. Here is the sample screen shot they provide about it:


See the wheel at the bottom? Spin it to select your journal (or swipe left or right on the screen to move one by one). All of AGU’s 20 journals are there now. They also included Eos content in it, too, so you have full access to AGU news and highlights; it’s the Society News entry in the journal wheel (and in the upper left menu).

The image above is the “small device” layout of the app, i.e., for a phone. Here’s another screen shot, from my tablet, showing the “big device” layout of JGR Space Physics page within the app:


I like it bit better on the bigger device but both versions of the app worked well for me.

The app still has the “roaming” feature, which I find extremely convenient. It means that once you initiate a connection through your institution’s network, you will be “logged in” for full access (whatever your institution has) for the next 3 months. When you first open the app, you will get this screen:


            If you or your institution has a subscription to AGU journals, then click the top button. If you don’t have such access but want to buy it now, then click the second button. If you just want to use the app to read free content (Eos and the Open Access papers in the journals), then click the third button. If you click the first button, then click your method of access, probably either institutional or personal subscription. You will then need to log in to the Wiley Online Library to get access (or create an account, if you have never done this before). A very nice thing about this process is that this roaming set up is now down entirely through the app, at least for me as I configured it this morning. This was not the case before, where we had to use a browser window to go Wiley Online Library to turn on roaming and then go back to the app to complete the roaming connection, all while connected to your institution’s network. You will still have to refresh the roaming every 90 days, which is the inconvenience that we must endure to prevent access fraud and abuse, but this renewal is now much easier.

Once roaming is set up, you can then access AGU journal content through the app as if you were at that subscribing institution, regardless of where you are. This was a powerful feature of the old apps and I am glad that it is still a feature in this new app. I can now log in from home, the coffee shop, or wherever I have wifi access (for my tablet, at least) and read a journal article as if I were in my work office.

I am really looking forward to using this app.


TESS is back! Yes, it has been 3 years since we had the first Triennial Earth-Sun Summit and, in order to keep the name true, it is time for the next one.


The official website of the meeting is here, and abstract submissions are now open, with a deadline of Tuesday, February 20.

TESS is a meeting designed to directly appeal to the readership of JGR Space Physics. Organized as a joint meeting of the AGU’s Space Physics and Aeronomy section and the AAS’ Solar Physics Division, it is a chance for our community to have our own meeting that spans the full range of space sciences within the solar system.

There are a lot of special sessions for TESS-2018. There are sessions focused on the Sun and solar atmosphere, the heliosphere, on geospace and near-Earth space weather, some on planetary space environments, and still others that cut across these “regional” boundaries and focus on a fundamental physical process or universal phenomenon. This last group of sessions seeks to draw together the various sub-field communities. There was a big emphasis on this cross-disciplinary theme for the first TESS meeting, and while the speaker lists were great at that conference, the attendance was relatively small (about 400) compared the full number of researchers in our field (several thousand, counting everyone from around the world). One drawback was that the only pre-arranged special sessions were these cross-disciplinary ones. This time, TESS-2018 has many discipline-specific special sessions already on the schedule, which I hope will excite the community and yield a large attendance at the conference. There will also be plenary session talks every morning, with no concurrent sessions in parallel with them. We’ll all be in the same room together for at least part of the every day.

If you are an organizer of one of these special sessions for TESS, then please think seriously about submitting a proposal to JGR Space Physics to organize a special section. I will probably be checking in with you about this before or after the conference.

The meeting is the last full week of May, with sessions scheduled Monday – Thursday, May 21-24 and an icebreaker on Sunday, May 20. The venue is a nice resort hotel in Leesburg, Virginia, a historic town just northwest of Washington, DC. I plan to attend, at least for the first half and perhaps for the full meeting, depending on family travel plans.

More On Plain Language Summaries

For over a year now, AGU has been including the option of a Plain Language Summary with manuscript submissions to any of its journals. This can be about as long as a regular Abstract to your paper, but should be written so that those outside of space physics can understand it. From the AGU text requirements page, the definition goes like this:

“The plain language summary should be written for a broad audience. It should be free of jargon, acronyms, equations and any technical information that would be unknown to the general public. The purpose is to explain the study to the public. A good summary should state the general problem, what was done, and the result.”

This description should be ingrained in all of us, not just those submitting papers in the near future but also anyone reviewing a manuscript for JGR Space Physics or another AGU journal. Yes, if you are asked to review a paper and it has a Plain Language Summary, then please read it and comment on its quality. This should be considered as an essential part of the review process, just like assessing the Key Points and keywords that the authors have provided for the paper.

AGU now has more information about these Plain Language Summaries to help you write a good one. For me, this advice about creating a Plain Language Summary comes down to the final bullet point: take the time to do it right. This is not something that you should crank out during the GEMS submission process. That not only will just be an initial draft of what it could be but also won’t be vetted by your coauthors. Their name is on the paper too, and the Plain Language Summary is published with the paper, right below the official Abstract, so you should definitely include your coauthors in its creation. Please do not just change a few words from your regular Abstract, but instead write it from scratch and edit it to make it appealing to a nonspecialist audience.

Here is the nice graphic from that webpage, by @JoannaScience:


She did a cartoon for one of my Editors’ Vox articles. This graphic above pretty much sums up how space physics Abstracts are understood by non-space-physicists. Our niche of AGU has to work especially hard at communicating our work to the public; learning how to write a good Plain Language Summary is an excellent start.

AGU has put together a page with some really good Plain Language Summaries. Have a look to see the kind of summary that resonates.

For now, this paragraph is optional, and I have been told that roughly 20% of manuscript submissions include a Plain Language Summary. Writing a good Plain Language Summary, however, greatly increases the chances of your paper being highlighted by AGU in some way. AGU HQ staff read every Plain Language Summary for all accepted papers across all AGU journals. If they come across a good one. At 20%, this is about 5 summaries per day. When they come across a really good one, the paper will, at the very least, receive a social media highlight. They might work with the journal Editor that handled the paper to create an Editors’ Highlight for the paper. Or, it might even be the initial nugget of a Research Spotlight or Editors’ Vox article about the paper. The point is that the paper could be elevated to receive a highlight regardless of what the reviewers and editor thought about its highlight worthiness. If you write a good highlight, then your paper will have an increased chance of receiving special highlight attention from AGU.

While I have not seen stats on whether the various highlighting that AGU does for papers results in more citations, I have seen the stats on page views and full-text downloads, and the link is clear and extremely favorable. Traffic towards the paper is typically greatly enhanced with a highlight. So, it is in your best interest to spend some time on the Plain Language Summary.



Toolkit for Promoting Your Paper

In the lower-left corner of the Author Resources page is a link called “How to Promote Your Paper.” This page has lots of good advice for authors on this topic. While I have written about the Plain Language Summary before and I probably will again in the near future, there is one thing on this page that I would like to bring to your attention today. It is the Toolkit for Authors on how to improve the impact of your paper. There is even a version in Japanese and perhaps other versions, as well.


            This 4-page PDF is packed full of advice on how to structure your paper for maximal discoverability. Specifically, it uses the acronym SEO, Search Engine Optimization, and gives you clear advice on things you can do to improve your paper’s chances of rising to the top of an internet search.

Specifically, here is a synopsis of “the 4 easy steps to SEO” as defined in the document:

(1) Keywords: pick 15-20 keywords, avoiding repeats and test them out to see if similar papers are found

(2)Title: keep it to 15 words or fewer and use 2-4 keywords in the first 65 characters

(3) Abstract: place essential things first and focus on a few of the critical keywords

(4) Links: add a link to your paper from your institution’s website and a Wikipedia page

Those are things to do during manuscript preparation or just after acceptance. Once published, then the document suggests that you share a link to your article with friends in the field and even on social media. Not to the point of annoying people, but a quick email to colleagues will improve the changes that some of them will remember it when they write a paper on a similar topic.

Wiley, the publisher of AGU’s journals, wants you to have a successful and highly cited paper, so they offer tools to help with this. For instance, the JGR Space Physics website helps you monitor the impact and reach of your paper. On a paper’s main page, there is a listing of citations to it (as counted by CrossRef) and the article’s Altmetric score. Wiley offers a service called Kudos that will help you write simple language about your paper, share your short blurb, and track its impact in terms of downloads and citations.

Manuscript Submission Webinar, In Chinese

This is for Chinese-speaking researchers who wish to learn more about publishing in AGU journals. Our very own Yuming Wang, Editor of JGR Space Physics, and Minghua Zhang, the Editor in Chief of JGR Atmospheres, were the featured speakers on a webinar now available from AGU. It can be found on the Author Resources page in the section “For International Authors.” It’s the third entry in the section, “Webinar: Tips for a Successful Manuscript Submission [Chinese].” Yes, the webinar is entirely in Mandarin Chinese, not only the speaking but also the text on the screen. The video is an hour and ten minutes long.


            Note that the link above will eventually take you to a separate page at, where the webinar is archived. You will have to fill out the form for a free registration in order to watch the video. There are actually two screens of questions, the first is your name and contact information and the second is about you as a researcher. It is very easy and quick to register. You will be asked to make up a password for your registration; this is so that you can go back in to the BrightTALK system and see other webinars available from Wiley and AGU.

I like and respect both of these webinar speakers very much.  Minghua was one of the editors traveling with the AGU Pubs crew on our trip through China in October. He lives in the USA now but he grew up in China and, during that trip, I heard him pass on lots of good advice for authors whose first language is not English. I have now worked with Yuming for four years as an editor of JGR Space Physics. He is very thoughtful and I am sure has plenty of useful tips about manuscript preparation, submission, and publication.

For international authors, writing a manuscript for submission to an AGU journal perhaps can be intimidating and even frustrating. I am glad that AGU sponsors these webinars and I hope that you find it useful.

Free e-Book on Scientific Writing

I have a free e-book for you: Writing Scientific Research Articles by Margaret Cargill and Patrick O’Connor.


I am not the source, just the conduit. This is compliments of AGU and Wiley. They have little credit-card-sized “coupons” for downloading and accessing a copy of this book. There is a special code on the back of each card coupon, so each person needs their own card. I think; I haven’t actually tested this, because I only needed one copy.

They actually offered this e-book a couple of years ago. I read it, liked it, and took a bunch of notes. I should pass some of the key points on to you here in this blog. Well, I have, but not specifically as a recap of this book. If you would like the full version from the original authors, then please find me here in New Orleans at the Fall AGU Meeting. I have a small stack of these cards in my pocket. I can probably get more if I run out.

As a teaser, the section headings:

Section 1: A framework for success – typical research article structures

Section 2: When and how to write each article section – a method for writing the first draft

Section 3: Getting your manuscript published – submitting and resubmitting

Section 4: Developing your writing and publication skills further – specialized writing topics, strategies, and advice

Section 5: Provided example articles – for reference, called out throughout the book

I liked the book a lot and found myself agreeing with nearly everything they suggest. I highly recommend it. Find me and I’ll give you a coupon card.

Giving Tuesday 2017

Today has been designated Giving Tuesday, at least here in the USA. This comes on the heels of Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. I’m not quite sure why Sunday was skipped over; a leftover from a bygone time when stores were not open on Sundays, I guess.

Many non-profit organizations are using today as a special 24-hour publicity campaign to raise funds. AGU is one of those organizations. You can find out more about their particular campaign here.


That link takes you to the main page about the Giving Day campaign; the direct page for individual donations is here.

I am not paid by AGU to make this announcement; I do it because I believe in what AGU does for our research community. I personally like to give to several of the accounts listed in the “student” and “special” funds categories on the “donate” page. Unfortunately, the website is set up to select only one fund from each category, so if you want to give to more than one fund in a category, then you have to do a separate order for each. It’s fast, though.

I’ve talked about this a number of times. AGU used to have it on the Thursday during the Fall AGU Meeting, but now they’ve moved it to align with the national Giving Day event. There are lots of good funds to which you can designate your donation, including some specifically for space physics, like the new Maha Ashour-Abdalla Scholarship. And yes, AGU still has the incentive program that provides extra funds to the section leadership, depending on the percentage of membership in that section that make above-normal-membership donations to AGU (of any size into any fund).

Donating to AGU doesn’t influence the publications process; it will have essentially no effect on JGR Space Physics. It will not help your paper get published. It does, however, have big importance to the “extra” things that AGU does for our community, like travel grants for students and those in developing countries, outreach and public engagement to increase scientific literacy and awareness, and prize money like the Basu, Scarf, and OSPA awards.