New Cover Look

AGU has been changing the design of the cover layouts for all of its journals over the past year. Perhaps you’ve noticed. The cover of JGR Space Physics now looks like this:

jgra.v123.11.cover

Just for reference, the outgoing format looked like this:

jgra.v123.8.cover

There are some differences to notice. One is that the name of the journal is bigger – JGR Space Physics stands out better with a lot of white space around it. They have changed the dimensions of the cover art graphic, too – instead of a portrait-shaped block between two blue bars, it is now a landscape-style block with a curved upper limit. They have also moved the AGU logo from the footer to the header, making it more visible. They have also eliminated the “swoosh” logo from the upper right.

This is not only the cover art but also appears as the thumbnail graphic in the electronic alerts for the monthly issue table of contents, the early view notices, the accepted article announcements. If you don’t already get these alerts, it is easy to sign up or manage them across all AGU journals.

I have been picking the cover art since the beginning of my time as EiC, that is, since January 2014. This is a bit ironic because they stopped printing and mailing the paper version of JGR Space Physics just a year or two before this. Before that, it is was the monochromatic cover, giving JGR Space Physics its other name as JGR Blue.

jgra.v118.12.cover

I think it’s nice to have cover art. I keep track of what I pick in order to try to balance disciplines and image styles on the cover. Of the 61 selections I’ve made so far, the breakdown is 19 for ionosphere-thermosphere, 17 for magnetosphere, 14 for planetary space environments, and 11 for solar-heliosphere topics. Of the image style, I’ve picked 20 model output graphics, 26 data figures, 12 schematics, and 3 photos. Yeah, we don’t have many photos to choose from.

Each month I quickly glance at every figure in every paper in that issue, downselecting to a few (usually 5-10) and then somehow choosing from there. The runner-up images go on the image carousel on the journal webpage. I also carefully consider all of the author-contributed graphics. The acceptance letter informs you that you can submit a specially-made image for consideration as cover art. Some months I don’t get any such submissions and other times I get several. I think the most I’ve ever had is four, which makes the decision very hard because those are usually the really good ones. If you want to just submit one of the graphics from the paper, that’s fine. I will see it regardless in my quick search but your submission will ensure that it gets my attention. These author-submitted graphics do not have to be something from the paper, though, just related to it. It can be a completely new graphic that more artistically presents what is in your paper, or even just highlights the scientific topic.

We don’t take a lot of photos with our work but perhaps we should, because other journals have a lot more of those on the cover. GeoHealth, AGU’s newest journal, has had nothing but photos on its cover since its initial issue. I don’t know if a picture of “Dr. Space Scientist” sitting at their desk is compelling cover art, but GeoHealth regularly has people on its cover, like this:

gh2.v2.10.cover

I would think seriously about putting such images on the cover of JGR Space Physics, so please think about those field or lab photos the next time you get a paper accepted, and submit a good one for consideration as cover art. Or any graphic that you want to submit – I will consider everything you send.

 

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Even More Year-End Stats for 2018

I have one last chart to share from the set for the JGR Space Physics editorial board meeting earlier this month. This is a chart of the authors of JGR Space Physics articles in 2015 and 2016, counting each individual person separately. Two things are shown on this chart: the bars show the number of articles with authors from that country publishing in these two years (scale on the left), while the line shows the citations to papers authored by people from that country in 2017 (the Journal Impact Factor calculation window), with values on the right axis (ICW = in-window citations).

JGRA-Dec2018-OutputByCountry

Yes, JGR Space Physics is dominated by authors from the United States. China has about one-third the number of authors and it goes slowly down from there.

What I like about this is the relative flatness of the citations-per-paper line. It’s 3.00 for the US and hovers between 2.5 and 3.0 for all countries in the top 12 (down through Finland). A cynic might suggest that we should publish more papers with authors from Norway and Belgium, as they are near 3.3 average citation value.

Hey, I’m of Norwegian descent. We even made a big batch of lefse this past weekend. I should look into the average citations of my papers and see how they stand up to my counterparts in my ancestral homeland. But I digress…

Note that this chart is for a single year of citations to papers published in the two previous years. The ordering of the countries along the x axis shifts quite a bit from year to year, as does the average citations-per-paper, especially for those towards the right of the scale. This is a snapshot of early citations to recent publications.

In general, I am happy with the flatness of this line. Without doing more analysis into it, I think it means one of two things: (a) we publish with international author lists so these numbers are not independent or (b) we cite papers independent of the author’s country of origin. I hope both are true.

Happy New Year!

 

More Year-End Stats for 2018

For the 2017 Journal Impact Factor, JGR Space Physics increased ever so slightly from 2.7 to 2.8 (rounding to two sig figs). Remember, this is only the second year of the 7 JGR journal titles having their own JIF scores, before that they all shared one, which hovered in the ~3.3 range. Also remember how the JIF is calculated – it is only citations in 2017 to papers published in 2015 and 2016. So, let’s take a closer look at citations to papers in that window.

Here is a line from a chart that Wiley staff put together for us:

JGRA-Dec2018-CitationsPerPaper

These are citations in 2017 to papers published in JGR Space Physics during 2015 and 2016. By the way, I am not revealing a trade secret about the journal here; you could do this yourself if your institution has a subscription to the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science database.

Just under 20% of the papers had zero citations, over half of the papers had 1-3 citations, just over 20% had 4-7 citations, and ~6% had 8 or more citations. Only one paper surpassed the 40 citation mark within the 2017 JIF window, by Kurth et al.

I am not concerned that 300 papers had no citations. Nearly all of these will get cited. Back at the beginning of this blog, I analyzed the Lost Papers and they are only a few percent, even just 5 years after publication. I am certain that this number will drop dramatically in the next few years for this collection of papers.

While I would like more papers to be in the 4-7 range than the 1-3 range, this will take a monumental shift in how the space physics community reads journal articles and cites them. Look at the chart I had in this post – our research community cites papers an average of ~3 times per year for many years and the citations for an average paper grow fairly linearly. I made that chart in January 2017, so the first column (citations to papers published in 2015) is citations of papers from 1.0 to 2.0 years old (so, on average, papers that were ~1.5 years old). After that, it grows at roughly ~3 citations per year for the next 10 years. Furthermore, JGR Space Physics has a citation half life of over 10 years, meaning that 10 years after publication, the average paper can expect its number of citations to more than double as the years progress, with over 60 eventual citations. That’s a lot!

Special side note if you are feeling bad that your decades-old papers do not have 60 citations: remember that these are averages, not medians, and that citation count is a positive definite value with a long-tailed skew. So, most papers will actually have fewer than 60 citations. I have not plotted the histogram and run the numbers; maybe I’ll do that some time.

My point is that space physicists don’t cite papers the way that the creators of the JIF expect researchers to cite papers. The JIF creators expect researchers to cite a paper soon after publication and then the paper declines in importance and relevance with time, perhaps even being forgotten at some point. This might be true in some fields, but not in space physics. To me, it does not seem that we cite articles that way.

Again, remember how the JIF is calculated: it is citations in the year 2017 to papers published in 2015 and 2016. Take the average: a mid-2017 paper citing a paper published at the end of 2015. It is only 1.5 years past its publication date, the same as the first column in my chart in the previous post. So, the average should be ~3. And guess what? To one significant digit, that is the JIF of JGR Space Physics.

If the journal is growing in size, then the paper count is lopsided towards young papers, reducing the citations from this expected average. So, going all the way back to the number of papers with 1-3 citations versus 4-7 citations, I am not surprised that the numbers are what they are. Let me say it one more time – this is how space physicists cite the literature.

Keep on doing what you do, space scientists. Keep reading the literature and citing those papers most relevant to your work: that is, those that you think build the case for a new study; those that contain the descriptions and example uses of the methodology you choose; and those that place proper context around the significance, originality, and limitations of your findings. If those are new papers, so be it. If those are decades-old papers, that’s fine too.

I look forward to seeing your manuscript submissions in the coming year.

 

Editor Preference Selection

When submitting a manuscript to JGR Space Physics, one of the optional steps is to indicate a preference for editor.

JGRSpace-editor-list

I am writing this post to tell you a few things about this selection:

  1. After the manuscript goes through its quality control and compliance checks with an AGU HQ publications staffer, it appears in my GEMS workflow. I see every paper submitted to JGR Space Physics. After I read the author list, key points, and abstract, I then assign it to an editor. If I assign it to myself, then it stays in my workflow. If I assign it to someone else, then it is out of my hands. This takes somewhere between 30 seconds and a few minutes for each paper. Sometimes I follow up with an email to the editor, if I saw something about the manuscript that I think the editor really needs to know.
  2. You don’t have to pick anyone from the list. Just leave it at “none/no preference” and I will assign the editor based on the topic and the relative workloads of the editors.
  3. Selecting someone is no guarantee that I will assign it to that editor. I could give it to someone else. I consider each request seriously but cannot always honor them.
  4. Please don’t pick an editor at the same institution as you or any of your coauthors. And yes, I treat all of Goddard Space Flight Center as one very large institute, so he is conflicted with everyone working there. And also yes, if you work for one of the usual contractors at GSFC, then I will check your address to see if you are there or somewhere else. If you work at Goddard, then please do not pick Kepko as your preferred editor; I will ignore that request.
  5. The two new editors, Drs. Viviane Pierrard and Natalia Ganushkina, are available for selection. I am slowly ramping up their assigned-paper rate to match that of the other editors, so please feel free to select their names.
  6. Please don’t select “Test Editor” from the list. This is there for, well, testing, as well as for Editorial manuscripts involving all of the editors, like the annual Reviewer Thank You. This is an obvious statement, but just to be clear: if you choose it, then I will ignore that request.

There is also an optional step for selecting an editor with whom you are conflicted. Those I nearly always honor. The conflict can be institutional (you or a coauthor are at the same place as an editor), professional (that editor has criticized your work in the past), or personal (you have had a bad experience with that editor). Please leave a note about the conflict. Only an AGU staffer and I will see those notes; please know that we keep them confidential. If you indicate that you have a conflict with me, well, then just leave the notes section blank!

Reprise of the New Reference Format

A year ago, I wrote about AGU’s new style guide for formatting papers in its journals. There was also an Eos article about this change there is even a brief guide available. It’s been a year, so let’s recap the change and see how it has been going.

AGU_Style_Guide_banner

            For the most part, this new format follows the style guide from the American Psychological Association (APA), which is a rule-set that has been slowly taking over as the format of choice for scholarly publishing. The big change that most people notice right away is in reference and citation formatting. But, you know what, AGU’s use of italics for citations in the main text was an anomaly in academic publishing. Nearly every other journal in solar, space, and planetary physics had already made the switch to the APA style, some of them decades ago. I can point to example papers that show the APA style in use for Annales Geophysicae, Space Science Reviews, JASTP, Solar Physics, The Astrophysical Journal, Earth Planets and Space, Planetary and Space Science, Icarus, the Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate, and Advances in Space Research. Yeah, there were many journals already doing this! There are still a few publishers of space physics articles that are using superscripts for citation callouts, like Nature, Science, and Physics of Plasmas, but as for the space physics journals using italics for citations…um, yeah, just the AGU journals, as far as I can tell. In addition to this compatibility pressure from the other journals within Earth and space science, most of Wiley’s other scholarly journals were already using this style, so this change should help their workflow and reduce production errors.

There is one deviation from the official APA style guide being enforced by AGU. The APA style says that the first citation of a paper with up to 5 authors should list all authors. Subsequent citations of papers with 3 to 5 authors should then just use the “et al.” designation after the first author’s name. AGU doesn’t do this first usage expansion of the author list; citations of all papers with 3 or more authors get to use “et al.” after the first author at every instance in the paper. This deviation is much appreciated!

Authors: if you are trying to follow APA style and are expanding author lists in the main text beyond two-author papers, then please stop. You don’t have to do this. You can just use “et al.” instead, even at the first usage.

There is one exception to this author name list guidance. When there are two papers by the same first author in the same year, and the coauthor lists are different within the first 6 names, then, instead of using the “a” and “b” designations after the date, the coauthor names should be listed until the two papers are uniquely identified. As far as I can tell, this is the only time when more than two author names should ever appear in a citation in the main text in an AGU journal. Unfortunately, the papers will have the multiple-name citations at every cite-listing of this paper throughout the article.

For an example of this, see the first paragraph of the Introduction of this paper – there are citations to two Eastwood et al. (2017) papers, but those two papers have different second authors. So, there in the first paragraph, is a citation to “Eastwood, Biffis, et al., 2017”, which looks a bit odd to readers that are used to the old style. If the two papers had the same author list (through the first 6 names), then they would have used the “a” and “b” designations after the date. Note that the Owens et al. (2017) paper, also cited in the first paragraph, has 3 authors, but it is simply “Owens et al. (2017)” because the article only cites one paper by this author from that year. This is the AGU deviation from APA style kicking in.

Why the cutoff at 6 authors for this usual citation method? In the reference list, APA style has a particular rule set for how many authors to list. For papers with up to 7 authors, you should list them all. For papers with 8 or more authors, you should only list the first 6 names, and then put “et al.” in place of the 2 or more names remaining. It used to be that you would list up to 10 authors, and for papers with 11 or more, you only listed the first author and replaced everyone else’s name with “et al.” Now, we will see the first 6 names before “et al.” kicks in. If you are author #7 on an 8-author paper, then, well, sorry, but you are like author #2 on an 11-author paper in the old formatting style.

There is one more thing about citations in the main text that is different from before, and which is causing some angst with space physicists. It is the rearrangement of the citations within a single cluster of paper references. The old style was to list them chronologically, while the APA style lists them alphabetically. Yeah, when you are grouping a bunch of citations together in the main text, the oldest is not necessarily listed first, it could be anywhere in the grouping, depending on the first author’s last name. It is possible to pull one of the citations out and force it to be first in the grouping, with a “see also” between the seminal paper and the other citations in the group. We have to change how we write, at least a bit, if we want to highlight the initial discovery papers or seminal papers on a topic.

Authors: if you object to how a Wiley production staffer rearranges your citations (i.e., into alphabetical order), then change the sentence around so you make it a running text citation:

…was addressed by Smith (1997) and Jones (1999).

rather than a parenthetical citation:

…was addressed (Jones, 1999; Smith, 1997).

Wording changes like this can be done during production.

I am hearing some complaints about the new look. I sympathize with those that are having a difficult time adjusting to the new citation and referencing style. Citations will no longer pop out in their italic font the way they used to. We might occasionally see more than one author name in a citation, and not just for two-author references. We will see a lot more ampersands in papers now, as “&” is replacing “and” for parenthetical citations of two-author references. We have to get used to a new look to papers in JGR Space Physics and other AGU journals, and we might even have to learn to write sentences in a way to highlight certain papers in a group citation.

If you are vehemently against it, then I can take your concerns up the chain at AGU HQ. In addition, you can complain to a member of the AGU Publications Committee, which is the group that sets policy on things like this. There could be additional deviations from APA style adopted, I don’t know. I am pretty sure that the new style is here to stay, though.