Editors’ Vox is a blog from AGU’s Publications Department

Water Resources Research, AGU’s journal for research on the movement and management of Earth’s water, will be switching to a fully open-access publishing model to be completed on 1 January 2024. It is the eleventh AGU journal to switch to open access.

Open-access publication is a cornerstone of open science and a moral imperative for openness in all aspects of our research.

“Open-access publication is a cornerstone of open science, and arguably a moral imperative for openness in all aspects of our research,” said Georgia Destouni, Editor-in-Chief of Water Resources Research and a hydrologist at Stockholm University in Sweden. “All can now view, cite and share the research published in WRR, promoting collaboration, innovation, and the advancement and impact of this inherently interdisciplinary field.”

The decision to select Water Resources Research as the next journal to move to open access stems from the hydrology community’s vocal support and advocacy for everyone to have equitable access to this impactful field. Over the past 5 years, AGU’s Hydrology Section held town hall discussions and disseminated surveys about open access that made the journal authors and roughly 7,000 members’ desires clear.

“Water Resources Research has been the cornerstone of the hydrological sciences for almost 60 years,” said John Selker, President of AGU’s Hydrology section and a hydrologist at Oregon State University in the United States. “Now, anyone who needs to make use of the cutting-edge hydrological science found in WRR will be able to do so, as we have long believed should be the case. The hydrology section of the AGU is delighted to see this important move, and to be able to tell authors that this flagship journal is open to the entire world.”

The journal’s transition to fully open access reflects AGU’s commitment to the principles of open science and FAIR data.

The switch follows Geophysical Research Letters’ 2022 transition to open access. In 2022, 55% of all AGU journal articles were published as open access; this year, the number has increased to 63%. With this exciting change to Water Resources Research, AGU’s second-largest journal by submissions, we expect that value to grow. The journal’s transition to fully open access also reflects AGU’s commitment to the principles of open science and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data. We center our goals around these principles to make publishing more inclusive, open and sustainable.

As of 12 July, authors on new submissions will be asked to agree to publishing their article under a Creative Commons license (with copyright remaining with the authors), and either agree to pay an article publication charge (APC) of US$3,000 or request a waiver of the fee (see our FAQ for authors). Ensuring equitable access to publishing remains a critical part of AGU’s approach to open access, and we recognize the challenge that open access fees can pose. Many authors have access to funding for publishing in our fully open access journals via institutional agreements and open access accounts, and we encourage authors to explore pricing, funding and waiver options. There are currently 79 funding agreements across 37 countries, covering more than 2400 institutions worldwide. Authors from low- and middle-income countries are eligible for fee waivers as well. AGU has created an additional fund to cover waivers for those in need who do not qualify for automatic waivers based on country.

“A lot of people don’t realize what’s available to them,” said Matthew Giampoala, Vice President of Publications at AGU. “The breadth of people who are covered by these kinds of arrangements is expanding. Even so, we don’t want anyone to fall through the gaps, so we’ve created these additional structures to make sure everyone can participate. I hope people will ask for the waiver if they don’t have the funding. Our staff is always available to help guide authors through the various options.”

AGU is fully invested in working with authors if they don’t have the funds to publish with open access.

“We’re confident that AGU is fully invested in working with authors if they don’t have the funds to publish with open access,” Selker said. “This is critical for ensuring that access is truly open for the entire community.”

Open access publishing and equitable funding opportunities are only two elements of AGU publications’ broader approach to open science. We have implemented a dedicated help desk for authors and work closely with repositories to make sure that authors can find the most appropriate venue to share data and software. We support open-publishing practices via early sharing of preprints and meeting presentations through the ESS Open Archive and open participation of science via Community Science Exchange and journal; and through our efforts to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in scientific publishing.

The research published in Water Resources Research helps scientists, decision makers and policy makers understand the complexities physical, chemical, biological and ecological processes of our water systems. The inclusion of social, policy and public health perspectives in understanding water resource management is crucial in today’s world, and AGU is dedicated to making that a reality through open access publishing.

“Transitioning to open access is essential for WRR and water science, as it enables equal access to vital research information for a wider audience of scholars, policy makers, practitioners and the general public,” Destouni said. “We welcome this transition now, making the flagship water science journal of AGU fully accessible to authors and readers around the world.” 

More information for WRR authors is available in the FAQ. If you have questions that aren’t answered in the FAQ, please feel free to email the publications team.

AGU’s progress toward open access

  1. AGU’s subscription journals all have immediate gold open access license options for those who require them.
  2. In 2023, ten of AGU’s 23 journals are fully open access. AGU’s fully open access journals are committed to providing article publication charge waivers for those without access to funding.
  3. We encourage early sharing of preprints and allow authors to post the “accepted article” version of their manuscripts to their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance.
  4. AGU, in partnership with other societies, operates the Earth and Space Science Open Archive as one free option for preprint servers.
  5. Many of our authors have access to transformational agreements or funds from their institutions to cover fees for open access. We’ve increased our guidance and support for authors to ensure eligible papers get access to this funding.
  6. All AGU members have full access to AGU journals included as part of their membership ($50 standard membership/$20 student membership).
  7. Authors may post the final PDF of their articles at their personal website or institutional website/repository after 6 months regardless of the article license.
  8. All subscription articles are open after 24 months.
  9. AGU journals are available for free to institutions in countries with the lowest gross national income (GNI) per capita through Research4Life. Research4Life provides free and low-cost access to more than 10,500 institutions in over 125 lower- and middle-income countries.
  10. AGU requires research data and software to be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) and provides guidance for selecting appropriate repositories.

Citation: AGU Publications (2023), AGU’s journal Water Resources Research goes fully open access, Eos, 104, https://doi.org/10.1029/2023EO235015. Published on 7 June 2023.
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Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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