Credit: Jeanette Panning, AGU

AGU and AGU editors led a number of workshops in 2015 on how to be a successful author to worldwide audiences as well as to how to effectively review scientific papers. First, Yusuke Yokoyama (Editor for Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems) convened a workshop at the JPGU meeting in Tokyo, Japan. This fall, Robert Pincus (EiC for JAMES), Mary Elena Carr (Editor for Global Biogeochemical Cycles) and Alan Robock (Editor for Reviews of Geophysics) helped guide an online webinar with Brooks Hanson.  Jonathan Jiang (Editor for Earth and Space Science) held a series of workshops in Beijing and Shanghai, China in September.  Mark Moldwin (EIC for Reviews of Geophysics) presented a workshop in Ethiopia. Delores Knipp (EiC for Space Weather), Steve Ghan (EiC for JGR: Atmospheres), Michael Wysession (Editor for Geophysical Research Letters), and Ximing Cai (Editor for Water Resources Research) presented an expanded workshop during a second China visit to Nanjing and Beijing in November, joined by Robert van der Hilst (Chair of the AGU Publications Committee) and Brooks Hanson.  Finally, Delores Knipp and Brooks Hanson, along with John Buffington and Giovanni Coco (Editors for JGR: Earth Surface)  participated in two workshops at the AGU Fall Meeting. Brooks Hanson and Linda Gunderson (USGS, retired) also covered publishing and ethics at the beginning of the Sunday Student Conference.

The workshops in China were described in several places (in Chinese):,,, and  A video of the AGU-Wiley Webinar is here, and slides on Being a Responsible Author and Reviewer, which provide some broad pointers on resources, submissions, and reviewing, are available here.

These seminars generated a number of suggestions for preparing a submission:

  • Have colleagues read and critique the paper before submission.  Have someone with excellent English writing skills provide you with feedback also.
  • Read the journal aims and scope statement to determine if your manuscript is a good fit.
  • Place manuscript tables and figures near where they are cited in the text in your initial submission.  After revision, include them at the end of the submission and as separate files.
  • Use the submission and revision checklists and Word and Latex templates, and read the instructions for authors.
  • Plan and organize your data for deposition in appropriate repositories or release as early in your project as possible.
  • Put your best research forward; avoid trying to squeeze too many papers out of your research, as this can lead to problems of dual publication (self-plagiarism) or marginal advance.
  • Feel free to contact the journal staff or editor if you have questions about a review or process.  We are here to help you and it usually will save time and effort later. Information about publishing with AGU is here.

And a few questions, and our answers, that were particularly enlightening:

Q:  What kind of access to content and other assistance is available for authors in developing countries?

A:  AGU, through our publishing partner Wiley, now provides immediate access to all content for researchers and public in developing nations through Research4Life ( ). AGU’s author instructions include links to several editing services that can help in finalizing your paper for revision or submission (these are fee-for-service). Authors who are lack grants or are otherwise unable to afford publication fees for those journals that have them can request waivers to the editors or AGU Publications.

Q:  Should I write a cover letter?

A: While a cover letter isn’t required, it’s your opportunity to indicate to the editor why you are submitting this paper at this time and why it’s a match to the journal and its aims and scope, and point out any other aspects of the submission, such as expected press activity or conflicts of interest.  It should be as concise as possible, and pasted into the appropriate form in GEMS, AGU’s submission system.

Q: Is it OK to rebut a reviewer comment?

A: Yes, but even if a reviewer comment is off base, it may indicate that you haven’t done a good enough job explaining some aspect of your work, so a revision to clarify the issue should be offered, rather than simply rejecting the reviewer’s comment.

Q: Can I suggest an editor and/or associate editor to handle the review of my paper?

A: Yes, and editors usually consider about such requests. It helps to explain why you are asking.

Q: When preparing response to reviews, I usually respond to the comments from AE and reviewers but not to the editor’s decision letter, since I assume an editor may just summarize or emphasize some of the comments from AE and reviewers.

A: Read the editor’s decision letter carefully since the editor may have additional comments/suggestions, which should be responded too.

Q: Do AEs and editors just follow the reviewers’ evaluations in making their recommendation/decision?

A: Editors and associate editors seek input from reviewers but, in the end, make decisions based on their own assessment of the manuscript.

Q: Do you have tips or advice is recommending or excluding reviewers?

A: Suggest reviewers with expertise relevant to your paper. Editors already know the prominent scientists so suggestions for more junior colleagues are most helpful. Reviewers shouldn’t have a conflict of interest with you or your group or indicate a potential conflict to the editor. You can also choose to exclude reviewers but this raises concerns for the editor so it’s best to explain why a reviewer should be excluded. In the end editors may follow some of your suggestions but will usually seek other reviewers, too.

—Brooks Hanson, AGU Director of Publications; email:


Hanson, B. (2016), AGU workshops for authors and reviewers, Eos, 97, Published on 02 February 2016.

Text © 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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