Archive for the ‘Instructions for Authors’ Category

Reminder: Adding or removing authors

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

We’ve had a couple of papers get delayed recently because authors have been added following the first round of reviews. While this usually is perfectly acceptable, we require you to provide a brief explanation in the cover letter when you submit the revision whenever you change authors. This is necessary to ensure that deserving authors, and only deserving authors, get proper credit for the publication.

Cover letters

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

It’s probably a good time to review some of my notes on cover letters. In the days of paper, the cover letter was literally what its name implies, the first piece of paper on a package to the editor. It’s still one of the first things I look at, but its function now is different.

Forget about including stuff like, “this manuscript has not been published elsewhere yada, yada, yada.” ScholarOne asks you those questions elsewhere when you submit a manuscript. By the time it gets to me, Susan has checked everything over.

What I’m looking for is for you to tell me why we should publish your manuscript. What value, what creative ideas should I look for when I read it? I see a ton of submissions every year, and we can’t even send every one to review. Here is your chance to sell your work to me. Don’t blow it!

Also, please tell me anything else I should know concerning related papers, previous work, etc. Telling me at this point counts as honest disclosure. Waiting until reviewers find it counts as a nasty surprise. ‘Nuff said!

Philly Papers

Monday, November 15th, 2010

The AWRA 2010 Annual Conference in Philadelphia was a great success. You can see some of the photos at .



Besides photographing the events and meeting with the Board and our Associate Editors, my job is to scout out those talks which might possibly turn in to JAWRA papers. With 5 concurrent sessions often running, I needed my sneakers! I’ve already sent out encouraging emails to quite few authors whose talks I heard, and to some of the poster presenters. I’m still working my way through the abstracts to see all the good stuff I missed!

Some authors already have asked if we’re interested in their talks becoming papers. See my blog entry on Proceedings.

Data Citations

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

The 24 August 2010 issue of EOS ( — You need password access.) contains an interesting article,  ”Data Citations and Peer Review” by Mark. A. Parsons, Ruth Duerr, and J.-B. Minster. They note, “Ultimately, more is needed to develop completely unambiguous ways to cite data precisely … journal editors and reviewers would need to be more rigorous in demanding that authors accurately cite the data they use in their research.” Amen to that — see my posting of 11 September 2009.

JAWRA editorial policy differs from their recommendations in one respect. Last year, in revising our Instructions for Authors, we basically threw up our hands on how to cite data sets. Who is the “author” of data compiled in three centuries? What is the meaning of year cited (e.g., USGS 1997) in a the traditional citation format, when minutes may count? We felt treating data sets as informal references, not Literature Cited, would give authors a lot more freedom to focus on the main point of clearly identifying data that were actually used.

Downloads, rather than formal citations, are perhaps a better metric for big data providers like USGS’ NWIS, and EPA’s STORET, which are accessed by thousands of private citizens. Also, GIS data today are managed in data bases like the National Hydrography Dataset. The notion of citing a small, self contained GIS “coverage” prepared by a single author almost seems quaint and old fashioned. (I’m dating myself even admitting I know about coverages!)

Nevertheless, I’m willing to admit our approach may short-change some data compilers looking for the credit of formal citations. And, I completely agree careful compilation and editing of data sets is something which needs to be professionally recognized.

The answer may be allowing formal citations of data sets where appropriate. Exactly what is appropriate is where I need help. Your comments on this matter are invited.

Long abstracts — still a problem

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Not getting the message applies to more than the risks discussed in my earlier posting. If your abstract significantly exceeds our 1,500-character limit (and I’d call 3,000 “significant!”), the probability is 100 percent you will be asked to shorten it. I tentatively accepted 5 papers this morning , all of them on condition of a shorter abstract.

The size limit is not just a bureaucratic whim, something to help page layout. Including extraneous information hurts your chances of being read and cited! Less is more!

Spell checking in ScholarOne

Monday, March 8th, 2010

An Associate Editor of a certain age (one I resemble) recently complained that ScholarOne is prone to passing along spelling errors in comments. ScholarOne’s forms use notoriously small font to make everything fit on the screen. Even on my wonderful iMac, I sometimes have to strain to see what I’ve written! I know some authors have received decision letters which made them wonder if their Editor is indeed literate!

According to the “Help” info, ScholarOne does not have its own spelling checker, though some browsers implement their own checkers. Few will differentiate between “to/two”, “wear/where,” etc. We try our best — and yes, I know about mouse zooms — but mistakes happen. So, if you see a clunker, please chalk it up to aging eyes. Do as I say, not as I do!

Revised Instructions for Authors

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

At last! The revised Instructions for Authors are now online!

The revision incorporates many large and small changes which have accumulated over the last two years. Some of the most important are:

  • Literature Cited now distinguishes between formal citations and informal references. Data sets now are considered informal references, and are not listed in Literature Cited.
  • “Groundwater” is now treated as one word. This use conforms to the global trend as underscored by a recent change in USGS practice.
  • Information has been added regarding color selection if you choose to show color figures online but print in black-and-white.
  • Text has been added concerning manuscripts which have been previously published in proceedings.
  • There are new instructions for including online supplemental materials to papers.

If you are preparing a manuscript for submission to JAWRA, or even revising one under review, you should review the revised instructions.

To expedite future revisions, we are keeping the Instructions for Authors in PDF format. We will soon be adding more sections dealing with copy editing and post-acceptance production. The publishing field is changing rapidly, and we hope these revisions will keep JAWRA up to date.

Citations of JAWRA in Literature Cited

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

We are rethinking how JAWRA articles are presented in the “Literature Cited” section. Current practice is to include volume, issue and pages in the citation, as, for example,”46(1):17-28″. This venerable format may be coming to the end of its useful life.

First of all, we’re publishing more Featured Collections. The articles in such collections often refer to others in the same issue. Since the authors obviously don’t know page numbers until layout is complete, we have to go back in and make adjustments almost literally at the last minute. (Ask me how I spent this Wednesday afternoon!) Besides the work and inconvenience, there’s plenty of potential for error here.

Secondly, page numbers are almost useless for the online version. And, anyone with the printed journal in hand can easily look up the article in the table of contents.

Looming in the wings in an obvious candidate for addition: the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). This funny sequence of numbers is an international standard, a unique identifier and pointer to the online version. See an earlier post explaining the DOI.

One proposal we’re considering is to include only issue and volume and to add the DOI.


Standard English

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I once sent a paper authored by a Chinese scientist to a highly-qualified English-speaking reviewer in Greece. The English was somewhat problematic, but I thought it might be good enough for review. The reviewer returned it saying he could hardly understand the English at all.

This true story illustrates why we are so insistent upon authors using standard English. The problem, ironically, is that English is a second language for many of our readers and reviewers. I grew up in New York hearing all kinds of accents and syntactical variations of English and became pretty good at parsing non-standard grammar. However, if you’re already struggling to deal with English syntax, text that breaks the rules likely will be very confusing.

It is unfair to ask reviewers to review a paper in a language they cannot fully understand. Therefore, one of my initial screening criteria is language. If your English skills are weak, the best thing you can do to improve your chances of getting your paper into review is to have it reviewed by a good English editor BEFORE submitting it.

Long Abstracts

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Our Wiley-Blackwell production partners have alerted us that overly-long abstracts are causing problems with page layout. Our limit is 200 words, and some have been going 330 and more. This crowds out the footnotes, keywords, and citation information.

Once again, an abstract is NOT the whole paper! It should concisely summarize what you did and what you found.

Like Garrison Keillor’s description of a good sermon, an abstract should have a strong beginning and a strong ending … and the two should not be all that far apart!