New Editor Search for JGR Space Physics

The incoming Editor in Chief of JGR Space Physics, Dr. Michael Balikhin, has opened a search for new editors of the journal.


The application process is quite easy…send a letter of interest and a curriculum vita to with “JGR: Space Physics” in the subject line. The hard part is the letter, as this should convey your willingness and enthusiasm for wanting this rather large service role. You should also comment on any previous editorial experience you have had. If you don’t have such experience, then comment on times when were faced with a similar role of assessing the acceptability of another person’s work, perhaps in a managerial situation or with proposals.

Applications will be accepted until mid-January, 2020. Yes, this is past the end time of my editorship and that of several current editors for the journal. Without immediate replacements, the number of editors will drop temporarily down to three. I think that consideration of the applications will start as soon as they are submitted, with the hope that all positions are filled by the end of January. I don’t think that he has a target number of new editors that he wants to appoint, but it is probably at least two. Space physicists from all disciplinary fields within the scope of the journal are encouraged to apply. For discipline breadth that complements that of Balikhin and the other two continuing editors (Drs. Viviane Pierrard and Natalia Ganushkina), I would guess that there is a high chance of appointing editors in the fields of ionosphere-thermosphere physics or planetary space environments. But again, researchers from all space physics fields are encouraged to apply.

This is a four-year appointment, the same as Balikhin’s EiC appointment, going through December 31, 2023. For more info on what it means to be an editor, AGU has written guidelines for the roles of a journal editor. Also, I have written quite a bit about the editorial workflow here at this blog.

Please consider applying and if you would like to discuss the position, then please feel free to contact me. If you want to talk in person, I am already in San Francisco for the Fall AGU Meeting and will be here through the last session on Friday.

And The Winner Is…

…Dr. Michael Balikhin of the University of Sheffield will be the next Editor in Chief of JGR Space Physics. Please join me in welcoming him to this position!


He is currently one of the editors on my board, serving with me from the beginning. So, serving the nominal 4-year term as EiC will mean that he will put in a 10-year stint with the journal. That’s a hefty time commitment to the space physics research community.

From his University of Sheffield website, his research specialties are collisionless shocks, nonlinear systems, radiation belts, plasma waves, and space weather predictions. He is also the PI of the Digital Wave Package on the Cluster satellites.

His term as EiC will start January 1, 2020. Yes, you still have me for a little bit longer. In the two months between then and now, he has several tasks that he must complete. The first is conducting a search for several new editors. Of the 7 current editors, only 2 have appointments beyond December 31, Dr. Viviane Pierrard and Dr. Natalia Ganushkina (well, now that number is 3, because Balikhin will also continue). This will be an open search and I encourage those interested, from across the world, to look for this job announcement and to apply. If you are interested in learning more about what it is like to be an editor, then please select the Life as Editor category from the pull-down menu on this page, you will get many posts to read.

I would like to extend a big thank you to the search committee to conducting a thorough assessment of the candidates and to AGU HQ staff for coordinating the logistics of this search. I would especially like to thank all of you out there that applied for the position. Please seriously consider applying for one of the open JGR Space Physics editorships.

Time to restate it: Science loves diversity

With the sad news coming out of my country this weekend, especially the racially motivated shooting in El Paso, Texas, I feel that it is time to once again state that science loves diversity. I attended a local March for Science rally in April 2017, carrying this sign:


It is still true today and I stand by my DEI pledge.

It has been shown that diverse teams lead to better solutions to complex problems. People from different backgrounds bring unique perspectives to the group, seeing the available information in new ways that a homogeneous group might not notice. Statistically, diverse groups are “smarter.” It is perhaps natural to surround ourselves with people like ourselves, but this is not what is best for science. The next time you are assembling a team, strive to make it diverse.

In addition to diversity, we also need inclusivity. That is, those from backgrounds not in the majority demographic within a group need to feel welcomed and that their contributions are appreciated and worthwhile.  Too often, the majority demographic can dominate the discussion, effectively making others feel sidelined and dismissed. Creating an inclusive environment means actively seeking everyone’s contribution, dissuading overbearing speakers from dominating the conversation, and being considerate and compassionate towards the needs of all of those in the group. This also encompasses confronting the tendency to drift into bro culture talk and action when white men dominate a group, and not assuming that an unknown colleague is male. It means being cordial in your correspondence.

Finally, we need to do the heavy lifting of equity. This is creating systemic change within your organization to bring about long-lasting diversity and inclusivity. This means developing policies, practices, and perhaps even physical spaces that promote diversity and inclusivity. This means training staff about unconscious bias, by-stander intervention, inclusive conversation strategies. And much more.

I am saddened and sickened by those that think violence is the way to create their vision of the future. I am saddened and sickened by those that think one group of people is intrinsically better than another. I am saddened and sickened by those that spew hatred for others just because of the demographic group to which they belong. Push back against this intolerant mindset.

One Small Step

As the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing rapidly approaches, I would like to repurpose Neil Armstrong’s legendary words to, instead, refer to the Journal Impact Factor of JGR Space Physics. Yes, the 2018 JIF scores are out, and I could have written this post three weeks ago, but I was on travel at the GEM Workshop and didn’t take the time. By waiting, however, I get to use a funny but appropriate quote.

The new JIF score for JGR Space Physics is, to 4 digits, 2.821, up 0.069 from last year’s 2.752, which was up ever so slightly from the year before. So, it is climbing, very slowly, each year since the big split when each of the JGR titles received its own score. In fact, all of the various metrics that Clarivate Analytics calculates have been steadily on the rise for JGR Space Physics the last few years.

This is an excellent time for us to remember DORA, the Declaration on Research Assessment, which is publishing-community effort to deemphasize quantitative metrics like the Journal Impact Factor (JIF).

The basic message is that we should consider the stature of a journal based on how it fits within the landscape of journals publishing articles in that field. The DORA statement points out that is especially true when considering an individual researcher for hiring or promotion and assessing their contributions to their field. Instead of relying on metrics about the entire journal, you should consider the person’s individual papers for outstanding singular contributions as well as all of their papers as a collection, assessing their overall impact in the subject. The quality of the journals in which someone publishes matters, and it should be a considered, but the quantitative metrics about the journal should be only one part of that journal quality assessment. Perhaps another thing to consider is the retraction rate, as it has been shown that high JIF scores correlate with higher retraction rates, at least in one field (very interesting that this is a research highlight in Nature, a journal with a high JIF).

Remember that the 2018 JIF is calculated by dividing the citations in 2018 to papers published in 2016 and 2017. As a mean of positive definite values, it is susceptible to a few papers with very high citations, especially for smaller journals. Quoting 4 significant figures for the JIF is not meaningful. Really, we should say that both this year and last year were 2.8.

In other JIF news, Space Weather continues its climb to ever-higher scores, breaking the 3.0 barrier with an astonishing jump from 2.9 to 3.7. Outstanding! This is awesome news for that journal.

There are other journal metrics that take into account other values. One is the Article Influence score and another is the Normalized Eigenfactor Score, both of which take into account the “network” of the journal by considering the JIF of the journals citing a particular journal’s articles. The Article Influence is normalized by the number of papers in the specific journal of interest while the Normalized Eigenfactor Score is normalized by all journal eigenfactors so the average of the normalized scores is one. These are both calculated over a 5-year window, instead of the 2-year window of the JIF. For 2018, JGR Space Physics as an Article Influence score of 0.80 (an “okay” number in the middle of the pack) and a Normalized Eigenfactor Score of 4.8 (well above average).


            Journal size matters when considering these metrics. JGR Space Physics published over 800 papers in each of 2016 and 2017. Our JIF score is barely altered by a few papers with high citations, and it really reflects the baseline trend across the research community in how we cite recent articles. To continue using our sibling journal, Space Weather, as a counterexample, it published 79 and 109 papers those two years, so it can vary substantially more based on the citations to its top-most articles. Because of this size difference, Space Weather’s Article Influence Score is 0.92, slightly higher than that for JGR Space Physics, but its Normalized Eigenfactor Score is only 0.55, an order of magnitude smaller.

The take-away point is that it is really hard to create a fair and comprehensive metric that accurately reflects the importance of a journal. So, feel free to look at the numbers, but don’t put too much weight into any single score, because it was designed in a particular way to highlight a particular aspect of the journal.

Overall, JGR Space Physics is doing very well. Thanks for you continued support of this journal and space physics publishing in general. It could not be done without the army of peer reviewers, and our thank you editorial just appeared in print. Thank you very much! And, of course, I must make the plea, you can still apply to be the JGR Space Physics Editor in Chief.


2018 Outstanding Reviewer Citations

The Eos article is out listing the 2018 outstanding reviewers, as cited by the editors of AGU’s 20 journals. I force the Editors of JGR Space Physics to make these selections as a group decision, so you will not see our individual names as the “citing editor” but rather the generic “Cited by JGR: Space Physics editors” wording. Other journals do it differently but I do this intentionally to provide one more layer of anonymity to these reviewers. Authors whose manuscript was assigned to a specific editor cannot try to guess if this person was one of their reviewers.


You can peruse the full list for all journals within the Eos article, but here are the honorees for 2018 from JGR Space Physics:

  • Nicholas Achilleos, University College London
  • Ingrid Cnossen, British Antarctic Survey
  • Michael Hartinger, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Marina Kubyshkina, Saint Petersburg State University
  • Astrid Maute, High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Takuma Nakamura, Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Frantisek Nemec, Charles University
  • Jack Scudder, University of Iowa
  • Viktor Sergeev, Saint Petersburg State University
  • Vytenis Vasyliunas, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • Rongsheng Wang, University of Science and Technology of China

In addition to saying thank you to these very special 11 referees, we also say thank you to all of the 1358 people that served as manuscript peer reviewers in 2018 for the journal. Collectively, you submitted over 3000 reports. This journal could not exist without you. Thank you very much!