Prior Publication and Posting Primer

Q: What are the reasons for the prior publication policy?

A: AGU’s policy on prior publication, approved by Council, reflects the long-held view that the priority for AGU journals is to publish new high-quality research manuscripts that are not otherwise available in print or on the internet. Whether a manuscript that is already permanently available has undergone or passed a process of peer review is less the issue than its curation and availability online. Most other scholarly publishers have similar policies.  These policies also recognize the growth of the scholarly literature and the corresponding goal of minimizing burdens on peer-reviewers and other resources in not re-reviewing content that is already available and may already have comments or reviews.

Q: Why does AGU allow posting to not-for-profit community preprint servers?

A: Recently AGU Publications, the Publications Committee, and the AGU Council amended the policy to allow posting of preprints and content by authors on “not-for-profit community preprint servers.”  This specifically includes arxiv.org and related groups such as astro-ph.org and cond-mat.org. AGU recognizes that these sites serve a valuable role for scientists and communities that use and rely on them for input and discovery as they integrate content across many fields and journals. Postings by authors of their copies are allowed and will not preclude later publication in AGU journals. We do ask that authors inform us of posting in their submissions and link to the official journal version after publication. AGU runs all submissions through Crosscheck, a plagiarism-detection service, and arxiv.org is indexed in this service. Citations to papers on the arxiv.org are allowed when other sources are not available.

Q: Why are open review journals or proceedings volumes considered as publications?

A: While community-based preprint servers are now allowed, potential authors should be aware that AGU, like many other publishers, considers other online permanent postings of manuscripts as publication. For example, several recent open-review journals or parts of journals immediately publish a submission online and assign in at DOI (which registers it in CrossRef). These are society journals and publications, not community servers that aggregate content and allow broad discovery. These papers often have already received reviews. Similarly, some publishers collect manuscripts from conferences in proceedings volumes or journals, in some cases with minimal or some form of alternate peer review.  These are also publications; they have DOI’s and a copyright transfer or license, and are often sold in subscriptions and through pay-per-view.  Authors are expected to cite these prior publications fully and appropriately, and these are also indexed in Crosscheck.

Q:  Are talks and other presentations at meetings exempted?

A: The AGU policy has always exempted thesis as well as abstracts to conferences, including extended abstracts, such as used by the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. More and more conferences are streaming and preserving both oral and poster sessions online. One benefit of this is that it allows scientists who may not be able to attend for financial, political, or other reasons to participate and benefit from the meetings (in the US, for example, some agencies have in the past recently restricted travel to meetings).  AGU considers these presentations as an important part of the conference with broad benefits, not as a prior publication of a manuscript.  This practice is being adopted by many other societies and publishers.  Presentations at meetings, including taped presentations, are also exempted under most press embargo guidelines of other journals (AGU does not embargo papers).

Q: Will prior press coverage of my research affect publication?

A: No, AGU does not consider prior press attention of a result as publication unless the release is so extensive that it would count as prior publication of a paper.  AGU encourages authors to release results to the press at the time of publication when a full assessment is possible.  AGU does not embargo press notifications and strives to distribute these as soon as AGU content is available online.  AGU also often co-issues or otherwise coordinates press notifications with authors’ institutions. We also can coordinate publication of your AGU paper with publication of other papers in non-AGU journals on request of authors or their institutions. We also will cooperate with authors and their institutions or funders if they issue an embargoed press release.  If you feel that your paper merits press or social media attention, or are planning a press release or other press notification about your paper, please fill out our form here.

Q: Can I duplicate methods sections or introductions in a paper or reproduce a figure?

A:  Proper citation and transparency always applies. The replicated passages should be indicated by quotes and a complete citation, to the page of the source.  The editors and reviewers will advise if such a replication is appropriate, versus a simple statement such as “the methods follow those in (reference)”. Any figures that are reproduced or modified should similarly cite the source, and appropriate permission must be provided.