Editor Guidelines

Guidelines to Publication of Geophysical Research

First adopted April 1988 [Most recently revised May 2006]

Since these guidelines were first adopted by the Publications Committee with the endorsement of the Board of Journal Editors, they have been adopted by several other scientific and engineering societies and one international scientific union. AGU’s statement to a great extent was based on “Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research” of the American Chemical Society (ACS). AGU acknowledges its appreciation to ACS for granting permission to quote extensively from that work. The Guidelines were first adopted in April 1988 and were last revised in May 2006.


The American Geophysical Union serves the geophysical community and society at large in several ways, among them by publishing journals that present the results of scientific research. The editor of an AGU journal has the responsibility to maintain the AGU guidelines for reviewing and accepting papers submitted to that journal. In the main, these guidelines derive from AGU’s definition of the scope of the journal and from the community’s perception of standards of quality for scientific work and its presentation. The guidelines that follow reflect a conviction that the observance of high ethical standards is so vital to the whole scientific enterprise that a definition of those standards should be brought to the attention of all concerned.


Obligations of Editors of Scientific Journals

  1. An editor should give unbiased consideration to all manuscripts offered for publication, judging each on its merits without regard to race, gender, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the author(s).
  2. An editor should process manuscripts promptly.
  3. The editor has complete responsibility and authority to accept a submitted paper for publication or to reject it. The editor may confer with associate editors or reviewers for an evaluation to use in making this decision.
  4. The editor and the editorial staff should not disclose any information about a manuscript under consideration to anyone other than reviewers and potential reviewers. Reviews and reviewer identity can be shared with other Editors of AGU journals if the author consents to having the paper transferred. It is contrary to AGU policy for Editors to release reviews or reviewers’ identity to Editors of non-AGU journals.
  5. An editor should respect the intellectual independence of authors.
  6. Editorial responsibility and authority for any manuscript authored by an editor and submitted to the editor’s journal should be delegated to some other qualified person, such as another editor or an associate editor of that journal. Editors should avoid situations of real or perceived conflicts of interest. If an editor chooses to participate in an ongoing scientific debate within his journal, the editor should arrange for some other qualified person to take editorial responsibility.
  7. Editors should avoid situations of real or perceived conflicts of interest. Such conflicts include, but are not limited to, handling papers from present and former students, from colleagues with whom the editor has recently collaborated, and from those in the same institution.
  8. Unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations disclosed in a submitted manuscript should not be used in an editor’s own research except with the consent of the author.
  9. If an editor is presented with convincing evidence that the main substance or conclusions of a paper published in an editor’s journal are erroneous, the editor should facilitate publication of an appropriate paper pointing out the error and, if possible, correcting it.