The goal of improvements and new initiatives in AGU publications is to further increase transparency in the peer review process. Credit: Jeff Kubina (CC BY 2.0)

Last week was Peer Review Week, a chance to focus the attention of researchers, publishers, societies, and the broader public on the importance of peer review.

Peer review continues to have a key role in advancing science—through both grants and research papers and related data—and in serving the public. Strengthening peer review is critical for both roles. This requires both assessing it, and working to improve it. The Peer Review Congress held in Chicago last week also focused on both aspects.

The theme of Peer Review Week 2017 was Transparency in Review. Both assessing and improving processes are steps towards achieving transparency. Last week AGU published four Editors’ Vox posts featuring new and recent initiatives designed to assess and improve our peer review process.

The excellent uptake of AGU authors registering for Orcid iDs enables us to more accurately connect people with their research outputs, as well as for people to gain recognition for their work, including reviewing.

Meanwhile, AGU requires that for publication in all AGU journals, the data associated with the research must be stored in a public repository that is accessible to all, ideally a domain repository, and this information must be explicitly stated in the Acknowledgements section of the paper. Issues related to this policy were discussed further by the Editor-in-Chief of JGR: Oceans in a post entitled “Do You Expect Me to Just Give Away My Data?”

Thanks to a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, AGU is convening a new initiative to develop a set of data management best practices for publishing in the Earth and space science community. With the emphasis on enabling Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) data, the project will develop standards to connect researchers, publishers and data repositories in the Earth and space sciences.

Another improvement in our peer review process that we are implementing this month is the implementation of software for peer review across all AGU journals in our editorial system GEMS. This annotation tool enables reviewers, editors and authors to comment on a document and has the potential to make the peer review process more collaborative and efficient.

We also recently published a piece by AGU President, Eric Davidson, and Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences entitled Red/Blue and Peer Review. They reported on an alternative approach to standard peer review for evaluating climate change science.

AGU remains committed to the highest quality in the journal manuscript submission, peer review and publication process. These latest initiatives demonstrate a commitment to continual self-assessment and improvement, embracing new tools, and being transparent to all involved.

—Brooks Hanson (email:, Senior Vice President, and Jenny Lunn, Director, Publications, American Geophysical Union


Hanson, B.,Lunn, J. (2017), AGU marks peer review week, Eos, 98, Published on 18 September 2017.

Text © 2017. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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