EGUsphere preprints: new pathways for discussion, sharing and feedback

EGUsphere preprints: new pathways for discussion, sharing and feedback

After a long wait, EGU has this month launched our much-anticipated preprints – the newest feature of the Open Access repository EGUsphere. Now for the first time, authors can upload preprints to the online server, taking advantage of EGU’s pioneering public peer-review process, whilst preparing their papers for future release.

Three different roads for preprints are available with EGUsphere:

So what does this new development mean for authors and the geoscience community overall?  We spoke to Susanne Buiter, EGUsphere coordinator and Barbara Ervens, EGU Publications Committee Chair for their insights.


Congratulations on the latest preprints feature of EGUsphere! What do you hope this new addition will offer to authors thinking of publishing with EGU?

Susanne: I am really excited that EGUsphere is now open for preprints! EGUsphere was already hosting abstracts and presentations from EGU conferences, and we have now grown to a fully-fledged preprint server. We hope that the flexibility and the interactive commenting features of EGUsphere will be a useful service to our authors.

One practical point to consider is that both manuscripts submitted to EGUsphere and manuscripts that are in review with EGU journals are considered preprints. But the preprint status of the latter was not always clearly perceived, whereas the preprint status of manuscripts on EGUsphere is clearer. We have a wide range of options on EGUsphere: authors can submit preprints aimed at publication with EGU, as stand-alone manuscripts that remain in preprint mode, or they can later decide to target publication in a journal, be it with EGU or not. External preprints can also be considered for publication with EGU journals.

Barbara: More than 20 years ago, EGU introduced the unique concept of open discussion and transparent peer review that is now successfully applied in the 19 EGU journals. Their high impact factors and submission rates demonstrate the great appreciation of this publication model within the community of Earth, Space, and Planetary sciences. In the spirit of EGU’s transparency in research and peer review, the additional preprint options on EGUsphere now provide further pathways for sharing and discussing results and ideas at different stages of their development.


Can you tell us more about the options authors now have?

Barbara: First, if authors intend to publish a paper in an EGU journal, they can choose to either submit it to one of the 19 EGU journals so that the preprint will be discussed in the journal’s discussion forum and is citable as a discussion paper, or they can submit it via EGUsphere to be hosted and discussed there. The editorial handling by journal editors and peer review process for both options of such ‘preprints with journal relation’ is identical. Eventually, it is planned that all submissions of ‘preprints with journal relation’ will occur to EGUsphere only.

Second, authors can submit preprints without the intention of publication in a journal. To ensure basic scientific standards, these ‘preprints without journal relation’ will be screened by EGUsphere moderators, before they are posted on EGUsphere for public discussion for six months. If authors decide during or after this period to turn their paper into a journal article, it can be transferred to a journal for full peer review.

Third, preprints from external servers can be linked to EGUsphere as an ‘external preprint’ with journal relation to undergo peer review in an EGU journal. These different routes extend the previous preprint options that were limited to discussion papers in the journals.


Can authors submitting preprints also access EGU’s innovative public peer-review feature?

Susanne: Yes! All preprints on EGUsphere are open to public and author comments. We strongly encourage interactive discussions of the manuscripts. Preprints that target publication in an EGU journal will, in addition and in the same manner as before, follow the review procedure of the particular journal, with reviews solicited by the editors.


Some of the common issues with posting of preprints include metadata challenges, discoverability, and long-term preservation. How is EGUsphere equipped to address these and other challenges? 

Barbara: Our publisher Copernicus will distribute the information on preprints on EGUsphere in the same established way as they practice it for the discussion papers and comments in the discussion forums of the journals.

All preprints – with or without journal relation – receive a DOI number and are therefore citable. In addition, all comments by the community and authors (and comments by editors and referees for preprints with journal relation) will be citable and archived. Copernicus will report the metadata to the common index services and archives such as Google Scholar, Crossref, GeoRef etc., so that all information on preprints is available and discoverable online.


Could you tell us about the decision for EGUsphere to also accept preprints from non-EGU preprint servers? What discussions led to this decision?

Susanne: Actually, we did not have many discussions on this, as we strongly support the Earth Sciences preprint community. We aim to make science accessible and EGUsphere thus welcomes close collaboration with other preprint servers. External preprints can join EGUsphere if they intend to receive an interactive public peer review for possible publication in one of EGU’s journals and at the same time, profit from our open and interactive discussion features.


It’s great to learn that Early Career Scientists (ECS) will play an important role as EGUsphere moderators. What will be the job of the moderators and how can people get involved?

Susanne: The moderators play a crucial role in that they will screen the stand-alone preprints, meaning those manuscripts that are not (immediately) targeting publication in an EGU journal. The screening is to ensure that the manuscripts meet basic standards of scientific quality, adhere to conventional standards of civil discourse, and are neither unlawful nor abusive. I hope that being a moderator will give some behind-the-screen insights in the publication process. We already have many moderators, but we would love more scientists to join us, so please complete the application form on the EGUsphere website if you would like to help us.


What do you think some of the long-term benefits of adding preprints to EGUsphere will be for our geoscience community?

Barbara: Preprints have gained popularity during the past few years since the importance of networking and efficiently sharing and discussing research is increasingly valued by the scientific community. EGUsphere combines these traits of preprints with those of the EGU journals, namely open access, transparent peer review and interactive discussion of scientific publications. Therefore, I expect that EGUsphere will become a highly recognized and popular platform for systematically sharing, discussing and developing research in the Earth, Space, and Planetary sciences.


For more information about EGUsphere’s preprint options, click here. To register your preprint for file submission, click here.

Gillian D’Souza is Media and Communications Officer at the European Geosciences Union. She oversees the Union's blog writing, press interactions and media communication. She has been a science writer on various subjects including health and the environment for over 7 years, and has an M.Sc. in Food Microbiology and Biochemistry from Mumbai, India.

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