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).

JGRSpace-2018-NormalizedEigenfactor

            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.

 

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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.

diverse-people-holding-letters-spelling-thank-you-800x600.jpg

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!

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.

 

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.