First insights from new EGU author survey
1 October 2021
Every year EGU publishes cutting edge scientific research across a range of scientific topics covered by 19 open access journals, many of which are ranked highly in their fields. In partnership with our publishing partner Copernicus, EGU embraced a fully open access peer review system. As a member-led organization, the EGU Publications Committee made up of volunteer Executive Editors wanted to hear directly from authors about their experiences.
In April 2021 the Publications Committee launched the first author survey to routinely ask authors about their publishing experience, in order to learn more about how EGU can serve the scientific community with their publications. Over the last 6 months, 160 contact authors answered the survey – representing about 10% of the papers published during this time. The questions cover a range of topics comparing authors’ experiences with publishing in other non-EGU journals, publication time and costs. Today EGU shares the initial results and what this could mean for our publishing practices in future.
EGU is delighted to report that in general the results of the survey were positive: two thirds of respondents reported that they were more satisfied with publishing with EGU journals compared to their most recent non-EGU publishing experience, while only 11% reported that it was worse. Respondents also found it easy to prepare and submit their manuscripts, felt well informed about the progress of those manuscripts, and felt that they had received a fair, transparent and constructive review process. Survey respondents said that they selected EGU publications because of reputation, our high standard of open access publishing, and the unique open review process that EGU pioneered. One key area for improvement identified was publication time, with more than one third of the responses stating having a worse publication time compared to other journals. Axel Kleidon, the leader of the survey and Chief Editor of Earth System Dynamics responded “This is an aspect that we are aware of and the Publications Committee frequently discuss ways to improve on publication times without sacrificing the quality of the peer review process. But we are very grateful to have some concrete feedback about this subject from our authors.”
The survey also left room for detailed comments. Many first-time authors and Early Career Researchers expressed confusion about the publishing process, which the Committee hopes to address by creating a new set of guidelines in different formats to help guide researchers unfamiliar with our structures through the process. There were also comments about the consistency of reviews, the visibility of highlight publications like the new ‘Letter’ format and having clearer terminology in our publishing process. “In the end, it will take time for any improvements to be implemented,” said Axel Kleidon, speaking on behalf of the Publications Committee, “and our input as chief editors is also limited – after all, we are full-time scientists, doing this work for EGU publications as volunteers. But we certainly aim to improve EGU journals to make the publishing experience even better, every year.”
“The Copernicus Publications team is very grateful for the very positive feedback given by the authors” added Martin Rasmussen, Managing Director of Copernicus. “The fact that a number of authors struggled with the process tells us that the EGU-Copernicus interactive open-access peer review is still new to many colleagues even though others have used it for 20 years. But we hope that this method to achieve transparency in scientific quality assurance will be implemented by many more journals and publishers for the benefit of science.”
The survey is still ongoing and contact authors of new papers will be approached after a final decision is made with their submission. The Publications Committee would like to encourage any authors contacted in this way to share your opinions and help us to improve our publishing experience for everyone. If you have questions about the survey or EGU’s publishing process, please contact the chair of the EGU Publications Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbara Ervens (Committee Chair)
Axel Kleidon (survey lead)
EGU Publications Committee