The time delay for publication of papers in the Space Physics section of the Journal of Geophysical Research has doubled in the past 10 years. This trend ought to cause some concern among the journal's publishers, contributors, and readers. JGR has played a vital and innovative role in the communication of research in the adolescent field of space physics. However, if the instrument of communication fails to keep pace with the research being communicated, both the instrument and the research must suffer.
Rapid publication should not be the single overriding goal of a research journal; the need for prompt communication of new results is appropriately served by conferences, preprints, letter journals, and other less formal mechanisms. On the other hand, the purpose of a research journal should be to communicate not merely to chronicle the results of scientific research. As its name implies, the function of a research journal is to publish research while it is still research, not when it has become history.