Archive for February, 2012

Membership Renewal Notice

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

An important topic came up at today’s staff meeting. It seems a higher than usual number of our members have neglected to renew their membership, and risk tumbling into darkness and ignorance. If you do not renew by March 16th, your online access to JAWRA will be interrupted, and you will not be sent the April 2012 issue.

How can you check your renewal status? Go to the AWRA home page and log in. The login will take you to the members-only page. Look at the top left, under “PROFILE.” If you have NOT renewed, there will be a link there for you to renew your membership. (If there’s no link, you’re cool; thanks for checking. The message at the top, “It’s that time…,” is just static text.)

Personal access to JAWRA, including our entire back catalog, is one of the prime benefits of membership. If you are one of the procrastinators, please get out your credit card and renew now.

We also welcome new members! Apply today!

Heartland Institute Blues

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Like every editor on the planet, I have been bombarded the past week with emails from the Heartland Institute decrying the activities of Peter Gleick in exposing some of their internal materials. I might have been tempted to tighten the spam settings for a conservative, anti-climate change outfit like this, but, as they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Peter is in hot water because he apparently mixed the roles of scientist and journalist. Heartland also is feeling heat because some of the things he exposed seem shady. A Congressional investigation has been called for. (Ooh, that will get to the truth! ;-) ) Strange business. I hope the outcome does not deprive us of an outspoken voice for science.

Sign of the times?

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I just bought an eBook from Barnes and Nobel for my Nook App. Feeling cooperative, I answered the customer survey at the end. One of the questions concerned what type of product I bought: a long list. Conspicuous by its absence was the category, “Book.” Go figure!

It pays to do it right

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

It’s always nice to get a compliment from an author after a complex review process. With a multidisciplinary journal, you sometimes need to select additional reviewers to cover all the aspects of a submission. In this case, the three original reviews indicated the need for another reviewer to look at the paper from a different perspective. Of course it took a little longer, but it seems we got it right. So, I’ll brag.

“I’d like to compliment your associate editors on the selection of reviewers. … It’s terrific that JAWRA is able to assemble a group that is able to collectively address all major parts of the paper — surely, this will help us make the paper stronger. I find the reviews to be fair and helpful, also, which is so satisfying.”

Article types

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

There’s been some recent confusion with manuscripts being submitted as the wrong type of article. Our bad, as we haven’t been very clear on this.

JAWRA articles may be one of four types below. All articles, regardless of type, are subject to full peer review.
  • Technical Paper – This type of article presents the results of recent research, including case studies or literature reviews, or offers facts-based analysis of a timely and important topic. Most articles in JAWRA are Technical Papers.
  • Technical Note – This is a short, narrowly-focused communication on a topic of interest. Examples of appropriate topics for a Technical Note would be to correct a common misperception about a sampling technique, or to add a recollection of an historical event.
  • Discussion – A Discussion is a commentary on a Technical Paper or Technical Note recently published in JAWRA. It is limited to the material covered in the article in question and cannot add new research results not previously published.
  • Reply – A Reply is prepared by authors of a Technical Paper or Technical Note in response to a Discussion about that article. A timely Reply will be published in the same issue as the corresponding Discussion.

If you submit a manuscript under the wrong category, Susan, after checking with me, has to ask you to withdraw it and submit it correctly. Pain in the …  Anyway, I hope this helps. (There are some other categories — Book Reviews and Errata — but those don’t go through ScholarOne.)

Still looking: AE, Water Quality Monitoring

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

We still are seeking an Associate Editor for Water Quality Monitoring. This is your chance to work with papers from top-flight authors writing on key topics. Make your mark in the field of water resources!

February 2012 cover photo

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Potomac River above Great Falls

Members, your February 2012 issue of JAWRA should be in your Official USPS mailboxes this week.

The February cover actually is more of a fall than winter scene. How appropriate for a “year without winter” in the Washington, D.C. area! It was taken early on a November morning, when the warm water of the river meeting the chilly air produced a fog. The location is on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, just upstream of Great Falls.

Instituted by former Editor Chris Lant, our cover photo has given JAWRA its distinctive look since 1997. We used stock photos until 2006, when we switched to member-contributed photos. You can see the past covers online. Instructions for contributing a photo also are on that page.

ICPRB

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Potomac River Basin

Heard a good talk this afternoon, by Joe Hoffmann, Executive Director of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB). A threatened species.

The ICPRB should be an unquestioned success story. When I came to the Washington, D.C. area in 1969, people were talking about water supply as the ultimate limit to growth. The Corps of Engineers, still at that time in full building mode, had proposed a set of 20 dams in the upper basin. Costing billions, the project likely would have decimated the shad fishery. With a then-radical view of the system as a whole, the ICPRB brokered an agreement whereby three major water suppliers managed their resources jointly. Cost? A tiny fraction of what had been proposed. Water security: No longer a critical issue in the region. Environmental impacts: The Potomac now supplies shad fingerlings to other basins.

So how do our Virginia legislators reward such enlightened management? (See AWRA blog.) Not only has Virginia not funded the ICPRB for the past two years, it threatens to pull out of the agreement entirely. To call such a action stupid would be  an insult to stupid people!

Coercive self-citations

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

There’s a good article in this week’s Science, “Coercive Citation in Academic Publishing.” (You need access to see the full article.) As the authors define it, “Coercive self-citation refers to requests that (i) give no indication that the manuscript was lacking in attribution; (ii) make no suggestion as to specific articles, authors, or a body of work requiring review; and (iii) only guide authors to add citations from the editor’s journal.” Though the study did not specifically cover water resources journals, the practice seems far too common.

For the record, I believe coercive self-citation is a perversion of an editor’s role, and editors who use it are cheaters. Even a joking suggestion to me about the possibility receives a very cold reception.

We’re not talking about legitimate recommendations. There’s nothing wrong with suggesting a specific reference if it makes a genuine contribution to the article under review. Authors sometimes miss things, and it is the role of reviewers and editors to point out shortcomings. When in doubt, the above definition is a good guideline for our policy.

Citation counts are not perfect, but nobody has yet shown a better way of measuring journal quality. Let’s keep the system honest.

Writer’s block

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Ken's Montblanc pen

A minor tragedy happened the other day at JAWRA World Editorial HQ. Casey, the official JAWRA cat, jumped up for her customary mid-morning scritch and brushed my Montblanc pen to the floor. A plastic part inside cracked. OMG! I’ve used that pen for almost 30 years. It’s been all around the world producing a shelf of travel diaries. Every paper I’ve written, every speech, and (true!) every computer program has started in outline form from that gold nib. I feel struck dumb, or at least illiterate.

For those into fine pens, the pen in question is a Montblanc Generations model 320P in burgundy. It’s no longer sold to individuals because Montblanc realized it was way too good for an entry level model. Sleek and light, it fit comfortably in my pocket, and it wrote (Why do I use the past tense?) writes like a dream. The pen is a minor celebrity on the Web. It served as the model when I created a banner for the Contact USGS page.

My cherished pen now is on its way to the Montblanc pen hospital. A repair probably will cost me, but it’s only money. I just hope the parts are available.

Why all this concern over a piece of technology which has long been obsolete? Even I now take more notes on my iPad than on paper. My slide rule, once a constant companion, likely will never be used again for serious calculations. A fine pen, with its smooth feel and tactile feedback is a reminder that good writing is more than just a bunch of electrons. It is thought.