AGU journals should ask authors to publish results



The title of this Forum is meant to sound paradoxical: Isn't the publication of results what AGU journals are for? I argue that in some ways they aren't, and suggest how to fix this. Explaining this apparent paradox requires that we look at the structure of a published paper and of the research project that produced it. Any project involves many steps; for those using data to examine some problem the first step (step A) is for researchers to collect the relevant raw data. Next (step B), they analyze these data to learn about some phenomenon of interest; this analysis is very often purely computational. Then (step C), the researchers (we can now call them “the authors”) arrange the results of this analysis in a way that shows the reader the evidence for the conclusions of the paper. Sometimes these results appear as a table, but more often they are shown pictorially, as, for example, a plot of a time series, a map, a correlation plot, or a cross-section. Finally (step D), the authors state the conclusions to be drawn from the results presented.