Providing open citations and content sharing are the latest initiatives by which AGU is expanding access to its publications. Credit: Ansonlobo ( CC BY-SA 4.0)

Cited references are a key element in scholarly communication. They are an information source showing where methods, ideas and data come from, allowing other researchers to verify and investigate. Citations of published research provide various measures of “impact.” They are a way to look at progress within a discipline, as well as relations and knowledge transfer across disciplines. They also capture author and knowledge networks and thus reveal how scientific teams evolve internationally and over time. Semantic tools may also soon indicate how or in what context references are cited and used.

For references to be most useful for these purposes they need to be openly available under a license where researchers can download or extract them. Typically, publishers have only made references available through paid services such as Web of Science or Scopus, and have allowed Google and other search engines to crawl them, but research by any scholar using an open license has been more difficult.

AGU is now participating, along with a number of other publishers, in an initiative to open up citations in scholarly content. The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) works through Crossref, one of the official agencies that registers Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). Most publishers also send CrossRef their tagged reference lists, and participating publishers have now agreed to open these for study. Tagging means that the various elements of the reference such as the title, authors, journal, etc.  are clearly identified. In the future, tagging might include other information about the reference, such as how or in what context it is cited.

AGU was one of the early participants in I4OC, as was our publishing partner, Wiley. AGU also follows the best practice of including all references, including those cited only in the supplement, in the main reference list. This exposes these critical references to linking and indexing, and ensures better attribution of previous work.

AGU is also, through Wiley, working to facilitate greater sharing of scholarly content. After a successful pilot in early 2017, Wiley has now rolled out a Content Sharing feature that allows full articles to be shared freely by both authors and subscribers, even with people without a subscription to that journal. This is now available for AGU content.

To make use of this feature, authors or subscribers should open the PDF version of an article within Wiley Online Library. Look for the orange circle on the lower right and hover to open this menu. Next click on the blue “share” icon to generate a sharable link. The URL can be copied and pasted into an email or social media message for sharing with friends and colleagues. Furthermore, if a journal article is featured in a news story, the media outlet can enable the sharing function to give their readers access to the full research article. This will further increase public engagement with important scholarly research.

AGU has already opened access to all new content 24 months after publication. In addition, journal articles featured by AGU as Research Spotlights, Editors’ Highlights or on social media are made free to access for a limited time. The latest initiatives – I4OC and Wiley Content Sharing – are further means by which AGU is working to expand access to our publications. Not every major publisher is participating in these initiatives yet. As such, these are examples of “best practice” that scientists should be cognizant of when deciding where they should publish their research and volunteer their time.

—Brooks Hanson, Senior Vice President, Publications, AGU; email:


Hanson, B. (2017), AGU provides open citations and content sharing, Eos, 98, Published on 06 September 2017.

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