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.


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.

Open Special Sections of JGR-Space

Here’s a public service announcement for the special sections that are open to new submissions at JGR Space Physics right now. If you have an idea for a special section, then please feel free to contact any of the editors and, when you are ready to propose, please fill out the form. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to motivate the community to finalize and write up their findings.


Dayside Magnetosphere Interactions

            Submission deadline: 30 November 2017

This special collection addresses the processes by which solar wind mass, momentum, and energy enter the magnetosphere. Regions of interest include the foreshock, bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetopause, and cusps, the dayside magnetosphere, and both the dayside polar and equatorial ionosphere. Results from spacecraft observations (e.g., MMS, Cluster, Geotail, THEMIS, and Van Allen Probes), ground-based observations (all-sky camera, radar, and magnetometer), MHD, hybrid and PIC simulations are all included. Parallel processes occur at other planets, and recent results from NASA’s MAVEN mission to Mars, as well as ESA’s Mars and Venus Express missions are also included.

Mars Aeronomy

            Submission deadline: 5 January 2018

The Mars upper atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and solar-wind interactions are becoming increasingly important for understanding loss of atmosphere to space and the evolution of the Martian climate.  Recent observations have been made from Mars Express over the last decade, from MAVEN for the most-recent Mars year, and from Mars Odyssey, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Orbiter Mission; landed spacecraft and earlier orbiters also provided valuable information. The International conference on Mars Aeronomy held in May 2017 in Boulder, Co, USA brought together all aspects of Mars aeronomy, including pertinent observations, analyses, theoretical models and results. The proposed special issue will collect the papers presented at the conference as well as will be open to all relevant manuscripts about the Mars upper atmosphere and space environment, even if the authors did not attend the conference. This collection is a joint special section between JGR-Space Physics and JGR-Planets, so the authors can submit manuscripts to either journal. The submission deadline is 5 January 2018.

Science and Exploration of the Moon, Near-Earth Asteroids, and the Moons of Mars

            Submission deadline: 31 January 2018

This special collection, sponsored by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) invites papers focusing on the science and exploration of the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and the moons of Mars. We invite contributions covering topics including, but not limited to, geologic investigations, dust/exosphere/plasma environments, surface remote sensing studies, field analog studies, laboratory analyses, and geophysical modeling relevant to the bodies of interest. In addition, we invite contributions focusing on efforts to prepare for future human exploration of these bodies. Special collection submissions can be submitted to JGR-Planets, JGR-Space Physics, Earth and Space Science, or GeoHealth. Potential authors do not need to be members of a SSERVI team to submit a paper to this special collection.

CRediT Is Here

Contributor Roles Taxonomy, CRediT, is now implemented for new submissions to AGU journals. I had a post on this a few months ago and it’s been in place with Water Resources Research for a year or so, but now it is implemented for all AGU journals, including JGR Space Physics. They have a page listing the various CRediT author roles but a much better description of them is in this Google doc. Here is the main chart from that document:


Corresponding authors, when submitting their manuscript through GEMS, now have the option to fill out these contributor roles for all coauthors on the paper. You don’t have to do it, at least not yet. Also, the current plan is to start displaying these contributor roles as part of the paper’s online information in January 2018, or whenever Wiley completes its software upgrade enabling display of these contributor role designations.

You don’t have to worry about the film credit model of authorship; that is not being implemented anytime soon. We will still have an ordered listing of authors, we will still be citing multi-authored papers by the first author’s last name, and all authors will still be getting full credit in their CVs and h-index calculations. This is just an extra layer of information about the study that will not only increase transparency about the contribution of each author to the study but also make corresponding authors aware of the different roles within a study and think about who should be an author of the eventual paper.

Earth Day Special Collection

It’s up! The AGU’s Earth Day Special Collection of Commentaries about the awesomeness of Earth and space science is now available. It is a cross-journal collection, spanning all AGU journals, including JGR Space Physics. Yes, we just published a Commentary (Cassak et al.) on relevance of space physics research to “contemporary society.” I look forward to reading the other articles in this special section, including the Commentary from Ray Greenwald in Radio Science and several Commentaries and other articles from Space Weather.

There is also an Editors’ Vox article, authored by Brooks Hanson, AGU’s Director of Publications, and coauthored by all of the Editors in Chief of AGU’s journals, that summarizes the major themes across the scope of this special collection. An AGU press release was just issued about it, too. Here’s the graphic published with the Vox article:


            Earth is beautiful. Learning new things about Earth, and its home in the universe, is beautiful, too.

Space Weather is the natural home for touting the usefulness of space physics for societal needs, and indeed this journal is where nearly all such news, commentaries, and feature articles can be found. We (the journal editors) decided to solicit at least one article for JGR Space Physics, though, because this special collection is important, being published just before the March for Science. This is also a time when the anti-science movement, which has been around a long time and comes from both the left and the right, is emboldened. We thought it was important for every journal to participate in this special section, including JGR Space Physics.

So, we enlisted the AGU Space Physics and Aeronomy section’s Advocacy Committee to write an article on societal relevance of space physics. If you haven’t heard of this entity, it was created about three and half years ago to lead and coordinate efforts to remind policy makers about the importance of our science. Their charge also includes motivating the rest of the SPA community to get involved in science policy discussions. They were a natural choice for writing a Commentary for this special section.

The “Technical Reports” Paper Type

During our reviewing and publication of the special sections on Measurement Techniques in Solar and Space Physics,


the JGR Space Physics editors sometimes received questions about the appropriateness of “instrument papers” in this journal. The fact is that JGR Space Physics has accepted Technical Reports: Methods and Technical Reports: Data paper types for many years. The fraction of such papers, though, has been small, with most papers in this journal being the Research Article paper type. When we accepted the proposal for the MTSSP special sections, we knew that reviewing the expected ~150 manuscripts on space instrumentation would be a bit different for those receiving the reviews. It’s not a paper type that we normally get, so some in the space physics community were a little confused about this paper type being in this journal.


            I’ve written about the Technical Reports paper type before, but since we’ve reassessed what we want for this paper in JGR Space Physics, it is good to remind the space science community about the expectations for a manuscript in this paper type. The paper must describe a significant original contribution to the field, but this new contribution is the method, technique, or data set. Yes, that’s right: it does not have to include an original contribution to our scientific understanding of the space environment, as is the case for a Research Article paper type. It has to be applicable to scientific study of the space environment, but does not have to actually include such a study.

That said, the manuscript must have these elements:

  1. A section at the beginning why to I need to study the relevant aspect of space physics. You must motivate the publication of this technical advancement in JGR Space Physics by convincing readers that the science area to which it pertains is interesting.
  2. A series of clear statements about the novel elements of the method, technique, or data set. You must place the technical advancement in the context of existing technology or data in order to convince readers that the report contains an original and significant contribution in this area.
  3. A section on what new science is likely to accrue. You must include “at least one illustrative example,” to quote from the paper type description website above. This section closes the gap between the earlier two “must have” sections. That is, given the the current state of scientific discovery in the relevant subdiscipline of space physics and the cutting edge aspects of this new technique or data set, you must then discuss how this new technique will eventually lead to better scientific understanding.

So, authors: if you are writing a Technical Reports manuscript, then please ensure that it includes these three elements.

Also, reviewers: if you are assessing the publishability of a Technical Reports manuscript, please carefully consider these three elements.

AGU has a relatively new journal that is specifically targeted at this manuscript type: Earth and Space Science. Just entering its fourth year, E&SS spans all of AGU’s scientific disciplines, especially requesting papers on “methods, instruments, sensors, data and algorithms” for our field and across the AGU discipline spectrum. I had a recent blog post about signing up for E&SS table of content e-alerts.

A final point to make: Technical Reports paper types are limited to 13 Publication Units rather than the normal 25 for a Research Article paper type. This is to keep the description of the new method, technique, or data set focused. Extra figures and explanation can be put into the online Supplemental Information accompanying the published paper, if needed. You can go over a bit, though and no one should complain or send it back. That is, this limit is not a strict cutoff but is more like a guideline.

AGU’s Commentary Collections

A Commentary is an AGU paper type that offers a perspective on a recent result, controversy, or special event in particular field. JGR Space Physics published 15 Commentaries in 2016, most of them as part of the special section on Unsolved Problems in Magnetospheric Physics. These short articles are meant to spur discussion, action, and hopefully eventual resolution regarding the chosen topic. In JGR Space Physics, they are too new to understand and quantify their influence. Other journals have published Commentaries for many years, and the anecdotal evidence is good enough that AGU is encouraging all journals to publish more of these.

To better highlight and promote the existence of these papers, AGU has assembled several new special collections that gather these Commentaries for easy discovery. The link is on all journal websites, under the Special Collections pull-down menu:


On this page are links to the Commentaries in each AGU discipline, including Space Weather and Space Physics. There are Commentaries here from a few different journals. Because papers cannot be in two special sections in the Wiley paper management system, instead of listing all of the UPMP Commentaries, there is simply a link to that special section’s webpage.

Happy reading!


Get TOC e-Alerts From Earth and Space Science

Three years ago, AGU launched a journal called Earth and Space Science. If you haven’t already, it’s worth the time to sign up for table of content alerts from E&SS. This is easily done by clicking on the link in the in the upper right corner of the journal webpage, here:


            E&SS is a journal that spans the entire AGU scope of disciplines, a lot like GRL but not at that very high, cutting edge, must-publish-immediately level. It serves several functions but here are the top two: (1) it is a place for the publication of cross-disciplinary studies that don’t quite fit the scope of other AGU journals; and (2) it is a place for sharing and describing data sets, methods, and tools that might be of interest to those in more than one discipline.

It just released issue 1 of volume 4, which has a space physics paper in it. Not every issue has a space physics paper, but the others are often worth a perusal. One of my favorite recent articles is this one on the “geoscience paper of the future,” addressing the often-neglected topic of documenting your research, methods, and data. Yes, I have submitted to E&SS and it was published. This two-year-old paper already has 7 citations, so I am going back; I am closing in on completion of another manuscript for this journal.

It’s a fully Open Access journal, which means all papers are free to all readers. The nominal publishing fee is a bit higher than that of JGR Space Physics, $1800 instead of $1000 for a ≤25 Pub Unit Research Article, but this isn’t a fair comparison. JGR Space Physics actually charges $3500 for a new paper to be Open Access. So, really, E&SS is not twice but half the cost of publishing JGR.

I am not trying to persuade you to submit all of your space physics papers to E&SS instead of JGR Space Physics. For one, it doesn’t yet have an Impact Factor and its brand recognition is not fully established. It is a place for publishing descriptions of new methods and data sets for which the paper doesn’t have a substantial new science component. While JGR Space Physics will consider such papers, E&SS allows for an expanded readership beyond just our field, and many methods and data sets have a broader appeal, making E&SS a good journal for such articles. Similarly, if your study crosses over into other fields and doesn’t naturally fit in any particular section of JGR, then E&SS is a good place for that.

So, let me say it again: I highly encourage you to sign up for TOC e-Alerts to Earth and Space Science. It’s relevant and its paper titles are worth the glance each month.

AGU’s Pubs Highlights Website

In addition to the Highlights tab near the top of the JGR Space Physics journal homepage and other ways they highlight papers there, AGU has also assembled a “Recent Highlights Across AGU Publications” page.


            One of the links on this page is to a listing of all of the papers associated with recent journal cover art. Other sections of the page lists papers that have had news coverage in the mainstream media, papers trending on social media, and those highlighted by Editors (like the link above). There are lists of recent Commentaries, special sections, and AGU books.

It’s kind of like Eos but it’s just a single page and entirely focused on content in AGU’s peer-reviewed journals. In fact, the right-hand column has many links to Eos articles, especially that related to publications in other AGU journals.

It’s a good page to bookmark and occasionally visit. It’s one-stop shopping for what’s hot and new across the AGU scientific world.