AGU is making two exciting changes to one of its newest journals, Perspectives of Earth and Space Scientists. From this point onward, Perspectives will no longer be by-invitation only and will publish open access articles that tell the scientific stories of all Earth and space scientists, encouraging representation across the full diversity of their nationalities, ethnicities, genders, and career stages. In addition, Perspectives will begin publishing several additional community-serving article formats that include Memorials, Commentaries, Opinions, Debates, and News Items.
Why the emphasis on “storytelling?”
Stories are a great way to convey information, including scientific information. Humans are uniquely adapted to learn through stories and storytelling. Most scientific journals focus on just the content of the science. Perspectives aims to incorporate the stories behind your research, bringing in a first-person account of the important lessons you have learned in the process of obtaining your scientific “perspective” for readers in the scientific community. For example, how have you handled failures, overcome obstacles, navigated organizational or department politics, obtained funding, set up labs, developed partnerships, mentored students, taught classes, established collaborations, written up and published results, or prioritized your research directions? These questions, and more, are often fascinating and instructive, and Perspectives aims to be the place that records them to create a culture of shared knowledge in our scientific community.
These articles may sound similar to content types published in Eos. Authors would consider Eos a suitable place when their goal is to reach a general audience that includes non-scientists. Perspectives, meanwhile, is a more suitable home for stories by and for scientists—to learn from, share with, and honor one another.
Why is the journal removing its invitation-only requirement?
Perspectives began as part of AGU’s Centennial celebrations. Its original aim was to capture the scientific and personal perspectives of AGU’s College of Fellows. In its first few years, Perspectives captured the stories of many of its most senior and accomplished members. However, because of the discriminatory barriers to engaging in science that have existed for many years, AGU’s College of Fellows does not represent the great diversity of scientists (by gender, ethnicity, geography, etc.) of current AGU members. Perspectives aims to capture stories across the full spectrum of the diversity of Earth and space scientists.
What is the intended audience for Perspectives?
Perspectives began by looking to the past, recording and documenting the fascinating history of AGU’s science. Perspectives is now broadening its focus to include looking toward the future, inspiring and informing our future generations of scientists. This involves publishing both perspectives on the scientific understandings of areas of Earth and space science as well as perspectives on how this science was done. As graduate students go through their studies, their learning often takes two forms: the scientific content of their fields and the practices and processes needed to do the science. The scientific content gets written up and published in a variety of available journals. All the other lessons, including the many intangible aspects of what goes into doing the science (i.e., the “stories” of the science) get passed down, mentor to student, as part of the apprentice-type structure of learning science, but rarely get published. Perspectives aims to publish these stories as a means of helping to teach and inspire future scientists.
How else will Perspectives serve the Earth and space science community?
Perspectives will also begin publishing a variety of other formats that will aim to serve and inform the current community of Earth and space scientists. Similar to the way that the articles of Perspectives aim to incorporate aspects of the scientific process that go above and beyond the content of the research, so the new scope of Perspectives publications aim to address current information/communication needs of the community by adding several new publication formats.
- Commentaries will state brief positions on a scientific or science-related topic, addressing aspects of research, geoscience policy, geoeducation, and geoscience infrastructure.
- Opinions will be available for a single author or group of authors to state a particular viewpoint or opinion without the requirement of referenced documentation.
- Debates will allow two or more individuals (or groups) to carry out a respectful exchange of views on a particular scientific topic.
- Memorials will highlight the scientific accomplishments of a deceased AGU member and can be written by either a single author or group of authors.
- News Updates will provide authors with a forum to update the geophysical community with timely information about research programs, funding opportunities, conference directions, professional organizational news, and other time-relevant topics. Some of these will be “Regional Reports” that will meet the specific needs of a particular or unique geographic region or community.
We expect Perspectives to play an increasingly important role in helping the community of Earth and space scientists by documenting the achievements of the past, meeting the communication/information needs of the present, and inspiring the scientists of the future. We urge you to consider sharing your scientific perspectives, career stories, and current news with the full community of Earth and space scientists.