Geology & Geophysics Editors' Vox

Growing Our Publication Partnership

Renewed partnership aims to continue expanding the reach of scholarly Earth and space science.

By and Rob van der Hilst

AGU and Wiley are today announcing a new long-term contract to extend our publishing relationship that we began just over four years ago. Having seen the partnership grow for the past four years, here are some personal perspectives:

The partnership began in 2012, as described by Chris McEntee, AGU’s Executive Director and CEO here.  In terms of the books and journal content, our contract assured that AGU retained full ownership and had full editorial responsibility (through the peer-review process) and control of prices, while Wiley handled production, distributions, and hosting after acceptance. As AGU became Wiley’s largest society partner, it was additionally expected that we would form a larger strategic interaction around publishing in the Earth and space sciences that would leverage our shared expertise, knowledge, and resources to catalyze broader services for researchers and to further AGU’s mission. After some initial growing pains, many aspects of this vision and strategic relationship have materialized, and new opportunities have emerged.

Given the size of AGU’s portfolio (20 journals) and its long publication history, the transition to Wiley was massive and the largest that Wiley had undertaken to date (or since), involving more than 1 million pieces of content. This transition was mostly completed in just a few months, which is exceedingly quickly, in late 2012, and the transition team received a leading industry-wide award for the effort.  Due to the scale, there were some initial difficulties in delivery and quality (through early 2013) that were addressed collaboratively by AGU and Wiley.

The partnership has added a number of services and developments to AGU, including:

  • We jointly developed a strategic plan for AGU Publications that has guided major developments around access, content growth, and author services;
  • AGU’s content is now significantly more available worldwide than before the partnership. AGU and Wiley provide (1) free access to all AGU journal content from 1997 onward with a 24 month rolling embargo, (2) free access for developing nations through Research4Life, and (3) piloted free access from public libraries. Selected content is made free each week, and the expanding commentaries across all journals are also freely available. Through CHORUS and other initiatives we are actively supporting open-access policies;
  • Web usage has increased from about 500,000 downloads per month to nearly 2 million downloads per month, worldwide, in late 2016;
  • We have started three open access journals: Earth’s Future, Earth and Space Science, and GeoHealth—AGU had not started a journal for several years before that (though in 2011 we acquired JAMES);
  • Wiley is publishing content within 15 days after acceptance on average for papers in Geophysical Research Letters and 22 days for all other journals. These are faster than for most other journals in the Earth and space sciences;
  • We have increased book output from 4 per year to about 12 per year;
  • Wiley introduced mobile apps for all journals;
  • Wiley has helped move many AGU customers to licenses, securing content availability and expanding access to AGU’s content;
  • We expanded special collections (including recent anniversary collections for Geophysical Research Letters, Water Resources Research, and JGR: Planets) across journals;
  • Wiley introduced new technology in publishing (ReadCube, Altmetrics) and expanded highlight links to articles, special issues, and related content on each article. We are now introducing plain-language summaries to articles and improving integrity through use of ORCID and other identifiers;
  • We have worked with Wiley and other partners to lead discussions on improving peer review and open data; for example, Wiley hosted a conference in Oxford with AGU and other partners on linking publications data to repositories;
  • We have expanded outreach by AGU’s editors and staff through coordination with Wiley’s international scope;
  • Submissions have increased by 10% in each of 2015 and 2016

In the near future, we are particularly excited about Wiley’s purchase of Atypon late last year. Atypon is a leading content hosting platform, and all AGU content will appear on this platform starting in 2018. This will offer new and expanded functionality to deliver content from AGU books and journals tailored to the individual interests and devices and to connect content in new ways. We have a number of other developments in progress that we hope will offer improvements for authors throughout their workflow and readers in accessing and using content and linked data and software.

In sum, the renewed partnership contract with Wiley helps AGU secure these developments while continuing to add new capabilities. We envision and have already planned further strategic discussions around leading in scholarly publishing and services to researchers in their roles as authors, reviewers, and readers; further expanding access, including open access, to AGU content; and improving the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and impact of AGU publications.

—Brooks Hanson, Director of Publications, AGU; email: [email protected] and Robert van der Hilst, Chair, AGU Publications Committee; email: [email protected]