Clinch River Featured Collection

August 20th, 2014

IMG_2403Jennifer Krstolic writes us, “The Featured Collection  (August 2014 issue – KJL) looks fabulous! I didn’t send you, Ken, or Greg Cope a photograph of our ‘Collaboration Cake’. I was extremely pleased at how well this group of authors worked together and the quality of the manuscripts that resulted. When we met for the Clinch Powell Clean Rivers Initiative meeting, I ordered a cake so we could celebrate the release of the papers. I think you’ll like how it looks.  :) –Jen”

And thanks to Jen and her colleagues for putting this together!

Do you ever disagree with an Associate Editor?

August 11th, 2014

[Another in the series on editing.]

Sometimes, but I never surprise them with my decision. If I think an Associate Editor has missed something, I contact them and we talk it over. The final decision is mine, but I give a lot of weight to what the Associate Editor thinks.

2013 odds of acceptance

August 4th, 2014

All 2013 manuscripts are in late stages of review, so we are able to estimate some statistics of interest to potential authors: (2012 numbers are in parentheses.)

  • 46% of manuscripts were accepted (vs. 51% in 2012)
  • 16% were, after review, rejected or withdrawn (21%); and
  • 38% were returned without review (28%).

Time-to-first-decision for reviewed manuscripts (i.e. excluding those returned without review) was a median 89 days, with 90% decided within 127 days. These represent improvements over 2012.

The lower acceptance rate is commensurate with a higher number of manuscripts submitted. Similarly, the shift to more “return without review” decisions represents proactive measures to control the number of manuscripts under review.


How do you and Susan divide your responsibilities?

July 10th, 2014

[Another in my series on editing.]

JAWRA Managing Editor Susan Scalia and I have worked together for almost nine years, so we’ve carved out our responsibilities pretty well. Basically, anything having to do with the science is my bailiwick, while everything concerning the mechanics of submittal and publishing is Susan’s. Whom should you contact if you have a question and are not sure? Both of us! ( We’ll work it out ourselves in answering.

15 years of editing

July 1st, 2014

Conference sessionI’m out in Reno, Nevada this week, at the AWRA Summer Specialty Conference, “Integrated Water Resources Management: From Theory to Application.” I had the opportunity to have lunch with my predecessor, John Warwick. Now at the University of Southern Illinois, John has been a little distant from AWRA, but it was nice to see him coming back to this meeting. It was so good to catch up with news of John and his wife, Laura Helsel, who once held Susan’s position.

A  conversation with John at a Florida meeting led to my becoming Editor. I told John I heard he was leaving, and asked what we would do without him. He said, “Have you thought of the job?” I hadn’t, up to that point, but I thought, if John felt I was qualified, maybe that was a possibility. One thing led to another, and here I am!

I give John credit for starting the idea of Featured Collections, something I picked up on and developed very successfully. FCs have provided some of our best and most popular papers over the years. So, it was a rare occasion to talk with someone who has figuratively walked in my shoes and had the same experiences. A lot has changed with JAWRA — Wiley, ScholarOne, just to name two — but much has remained the same.

The photo shows one of the conference sessions. The current and five past AWRA Presidents are in the room, along with two Editors representing 15 years of JAWRA!

How does the JAWRA cover photo get chosen?

June 25th, 2014

[With my departure coming closer, I'm going to post a series of articles commenting on and explaining my editorial practices. I hope these will  be helpful.]

When former Editor Chris Lant changed our name to Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) he also redesigned the cover to include a photo of water. Prior to 2006, Charlene Young chose a stock photo from a commercial source. Realizing AWRA was blessed with a number of good amateur photographers, I began the tradition of “in-house” cover photos in 2006. You can see these photos at .


April 2010

It’s the Editor’s prerogative to pick the photo. By pure coincidence, mine get chosen fairly often. However, other fine photographers also make contributions. Tom Ring (December 2007, December 2008, October 2011, and August 2012) has provided us with several wonderful cover photos. Other covers have come from contests by local AWRA chapters, such as that by Brian Walsh (April 2010).


April 2008

The primary requirement is an attractive water scene. I try to select a seasonal theme, or, if we have a Featured Collection, one that pertains to the collection. One of my favorites is Katey Walter’s cover for the April 2008 Artic Lakes collection. It shows a scientist counting methane bubbles on a frozen lake, with an immense expanse of tundra in the background.

Some good ideas don’t make it. The organizers of our Featured Collection on Golden Alga provided me with a number of photos of fish kills from algal blooms. Good science documentation, but I invoked the “attractive water scene” rule, saying we were NOT going to put dead fish on our cover!


October 2008

The organizers of our Featured Collection on Chinese Forest Hydrology (October 2008) provided a number of shots, but none of them had anything clearly identifiable as Chinese. I went to my local camera club, and Helen Goodrum, who recently had traveled to China, provided a wonderful shot of junks on a river bank, a shot that just screamed, “China!”


August 2012

Our covers do not show identifiable people, since I don’t want to deal with model releases. For the June 2006 issue, I actually had to “clone” some water droplets to obscure the face of a man running by the fountain. In August 2012, Tom Ring sent me a number of photos of boats running the Snake River, but I finally chose one in which the faces were turned away from the camera.

The format requirements for a JAWRA cover photo are very strict: 6.75 inches wide by 4.75 inches tall, at 300 pixels per inch. Sometimes this requires some very careful cropping. I use a calibrated Photoshop system and work closely with the contributing photographer to achieve a suitable cropped image. Curiously, our printer does NOT want color calibration information included in the image file; apparently they do things the old fashioned way, with a test print and a light table.

And, yes, I have a slide show of all the covers since 2006. Come to our 2014 Annual Conference in Virginia this November to see it.

Duplicate submissions

May 29th, 2014

When you submit a paper to JAWRA, we require you to check the box that  it is NOT being considered elsewhere. Why?

Besides the ethical problems of a author getting two publication credits for the same work, there are practical reasons. First, we do not want to waste our resources on a paper you may ultimately decide to publish elsewhere. It’s just not fair to our reviewers. Equally important, we need to be sure we have clear copyright permission to publish your paper; involving a second publisher could bring this into question.

Duplicate submissions, whether through intent or carelessness, are a form of author misconduct. When found, they result in serious sanctions, the least of which is summary rejection. If discovered after publication — search engines make this easier than you may think — there could be legal consequences as well, as those copyright forms mean something. Following advice in the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) forum, I believe I have an ethical obligation to advise other editors when I discover an author has submitted duplicates to both our journals.

We do our best to review papers and make publication decisions as quickly as possible. Should we reject your manuscript or return it without review, you are only then more than welcome to submit it to another journal.


May 2nd, 2014

Dear JAWRA Authors, Readers, and Reviewers,

AWRA_HFD13_0900I set two goals for myself when I assumed the Editorship of JAWRA in 2006: (1) make JAWRA the journal of choice for top authors doing important research; and (2) quit while I’m ahead. History will have to judge the first goal, though I think I’ve given it a good shot. Regarding the second, it’s time.

And how time has flown! This is my ninth year as Editor, the second longest in tenure only to Randy Boggess’ 10 years. I’ve approved publication of about 1,000 articles, and rejected an equal number. Our Impact Factor has tripled and our circulation has increased eightfold. Manuscript submissions are way up, and, thanks to ScholarOne Manuscripts™, our median time-to-first decision remains a very respectable 90 days.

I’m not burned out … yet. I still read every article and give each the thoughtful decision it deserves. But, there are some mornings my processing queue seems frightfully large, and the temptation to set my editing on “cruise control” looms greater. I don’t want to reach that point. Randy Boggess once said a journal periodically needs a new outlook. Not for the first time, I find myself agreeing with that wise gentleman. It’s time to pass the baton to another.

President-Elect John Tracy is heading an all-star search committee. Please see the AWRA website for an announcement of this opening. Given JAWRA’s status, I think we will draw many fine applicants for the job. I have the utmost confidence they will pick a fine successor to continue our wonderful journal.

There are many people for me to thank, and I certainly will do so before I depart at the end of December. Meanwhile, I still have issues to get out, and I need to keep the work queues filled to get the next Editor off to a great start.

– Ken

Boggess 2014 Finalists

April 29th, 2014

I am pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Boggess Award. All are really excellent papers, and represent the best of the multidisciplinary science JAWRA brings to its readers. The winner will be selected by the JAWRA Editor and Associate Editors, and announced by the AWRA President.

Using Multiple Watershed Models to Predict Water, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus Discharges to the Patuxent Estuary (pages 15–39) FEB, Kathleen M.B. Boomer, Donald E. Weller, Thomas E. Jordan, Lewis Linker, Zhi-Jun Liu, James Reilly, Gary Shenk and Alexey A. Voinov

An Assessment of U.S. Stream Compensatory Mitigation Policy: Necessary Changes to Protect Ecosystem Functions and Services (pages 449–462) APR, Colleen E. Bronner, Amy M. Bartlett, Sarah L. Whiteway, Douglas C. Lambert, Sean J. Bennett and Alan J. Rabideau

Computing Atmospheric Nutrient Loads to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and Tidal Waters (pages 1025–1041) OCT, Lewis C. Linker, Robin Dennis, Gary W. Shenk, Richard A. Batiuk, Jeffrey Grimm and Ping Wang

The William R. Boggess Award is given to the author or authors of the paper, published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association during the preceding year, that best describes, delineates, or analyzes a major problem or aspect of water resources from either a theoretical, applied, or philosophical standpoint. Established in 1973, the Award honors William R. “Randy” Boggess, a member of AWRA, one of the first Directors, and a former President of the Association, who has also made significant contributions to AWRA as an Editor of JAWRA.

Volumes 1 and 2

April 4th, 2014

This year, JAWRA is publishing its 50th volume. But, if you go to our Wiley website, you won’t see the first two. What’s going on? It’s not some mistake. All papers in back issues were scanned when we partnered with Wiley in 2007. But, Wiley only shows technical papers and similar materials, and our first technical paper was published in 1966, Volume 3.

To see Volumes 1 and 2 you have to go to AWRA Headquarters, where a full set of paper copies exists, or to a repository library holding a similar set. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our charter members still has a set in their basement!

At Headquarters the other day, I looked up Volumes 1 and 2 of Water Resources Bulletin, JAWRA’s original name, to resolve a question of who was the first editor. The Answer? The four issues of Volume 1 do NOT list an editor on the inside front cover masthead. The first page contains a message from “The Secretary,” but does not list this person by name. (Sandor C. Csallany served as General Secretary at this time.) Volume 2, Issue 1, lists Randy Boggess as Editor on the masthead. Ico Iben is incorrectly listed in some accounts as WRB’s first Editor, but — I checked! — he actually was the first editor of Hydata. Taking the masthead as the authoritative source, Randy Boggess was the first Editor, and I am the eleventh.

I’m a little concerned Volumes 1 and 2 never were digitized. As the above account shows, they have some historical value. Perhaps I may take on this task.