The rise of preprints in earth sciences

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Daniel Enrique Ibarra

The rate of science information’s spread has accelerated in recent years. In this context, it appears that many scientific disciplines are beginning to recognize the value and possibility of sharing open access (OA) online manuscripts in their preprint form.

Preprints are academic papers that are published but have not yet been evaluated by peers. They have existed in research at least since the 1960s and the creation of ArXiv in physics and mathematics. Since then, preprint platforms—which can be publisher- or community-driven, profit or not for profit, and based on proprietary or free and open source software—have gained popularity in many fields (for example, bioRxiv for the biological sciences).

Today, there are many platforms that are either disciplinary-specific or cross-domain, with exponential development over the past ten years. Preprints as a whole still make up a very small portion of scholarly publishing, but a large group of early adopters are testing out these value-adding tools across a much wider range of disciplines than in the past.

In this opinion article, we provide perspective on the three main options available for earth scientists, namely EarthArXiv, ESSOAr/ESS Open Archive and EGUsphere.

International disparities in open access practices in the Earth Sciences

Authors : Olivier Pourret, David William Hedding, Daniel Enrique Ibarra, Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Haiyan Liu, Jonathan Peter Tennant


Open access (OA) implies free and unrestricted access to and re-use of research articles. Recently, OA publishing has seen a new wave of interest, debate, and practices surrounding that mode of publishing.


To provide an overview of publication practices and to compare them among six countries across the world to stimulate further debate and to raise awareness about OA to facilitate decision-making on further development of OA practices in earth sciences.


The number of OA articles, their distribution among the six countries, and top ten journals publishing OA articles were identified using two databases, namely Scopus and the Web of Science, based mainly on the data for 2018.


In 2018, only 24%–31% of the total number of articles indexed by either of the databases were OA articles. Six of the top ten earth sciences journals that publish OA articles were fully OA journals and four were hybrid journals. Fully OA journals were mostly published by emerging publishers and their article processing charges ranged from $1000 to $2200.


The rise in OA publishing has potential implications for researchers and tends to shift article-processing charges from organizations to individuals. Until the earth sciences community decides to move away from journal-based criteria to evaluate researchers, it is likely that such high costs will continue to maintain financial inequities within this research community, especially to the disadvantage of researchers from the least developed countries.

However, earth scientists, by opting for legal self- archiving of their publications, could help to promote equitable and sustainable access to, and wider dissemination of, their work.

URL : International disparities in open access practices in the Earth Sciences


Open Access in Geochemistry from Preprints to Data Sharing: Past, Present, and Future

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Dasapta Erwin Irawan

In this short communication, we discuss the latest advances regarding Open Access in the earth sciences and geochemistry community from preprints to findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable data following the 14f session held at Goldschmidt conference (4–9 July 2021) dedicated to “Open Access in Earth Sciences”.

URL : Open Access in Geochemistry from Preprints to Data Sharing: Past, Present, and Future


Toward More Inclusive Metrics and Open Science to Measure Research Assessment in Earth and Natural Sciences

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Najmeh Shaghaei, Elenora M. van Rijsingen, Lonni Besançon

The conventional assessment of scientists relies on a set of metrics which are mostly based on the production of scientific articles and their citations. These metrics are primarily established at the journal level (e.g., the Journal Impact Factor), the article-level (e.g., times cited), and the author level (e.g., h-index; Figure 1).

These metrics form the basis of criteria that have been widely used to measure institutional reputation, as well as that of authors and research groups. By relying mostly on citations (Langfeldt et al., 2021), however, they are inherently flawed in that they provide only a limited picture of scholarly production. Indeed, citations only count document use within scholarly works and thus provide a very limited view of the use and impact of an article.

Those reveal only the superficial dimensions of a research’s impact on society. Even within academia, citations are limited since the link they express does not hold any value (Tennant et al., 2019). As an example, one could be cited for the robustness of the presented work while the other could be cited for its main limitation (Aksnes et al., 2019).

As such, two articles could be cited the same number of times for very different reasons, and relying on citations to evaluate scientific work therefore displays obvious limitations (Tahamtan et al., 2016). Beyond this issue, however, the conventional assessment of scientists is clearly beneficial to some scientists more than others and does not reflect or encourage the dissemination of knowledge back to the public that is ultimately paying scientists.

This is visible in the Earth and natural sciences which has been organized to solve local community problems in dealing with the Earth system like groundwater hazards (Irawan et al., 2021; Dwivedi et al., 2022).

URL: Toward More Inclusive Metrics and Open Science to Measure Research Assessment in Earth and Natural Sciences


Global Flow of Scholarly Publishing and Open Access

Author : Olivier Pourret

Open access is not a new topic for Elements. The topic was addressed by Alex Speer, Kevin Murphy, and Sharon Tahirkheliin 2013 (Speer et al. 2013) and, later, by Christian Chopin in 2018 (Chopin 2018). I fully agree that there is a strong imperative for the geochemistry, mineralogy, and petrology communities to ensure that the research it produces is widely accessible, especially in the increasingly important context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Indeed, according to the STM Report 2018 (Johnson et al. 2018), two thirds of the scholarly literature in 2016 remains inaccessible to the public because it is hidden behind a paywall. Scholars have been making various cases for wider public access to published research, known as open access (OA), since the late 1980s.

Scientific publishing is currently undergoing a major transformation,with a move towards OA marking a major shift in the financial models of the major publishers. This opens up greater diversity in publishing routes and raises wider issues around publishing ethics.


Our Study is Published, But the Journey is Not Finished!

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Katsuhiko Suzuki, Yoshio Takahashi

Each June, we receive e-mails from publishers welcoming the evolution of their journals’ journal impact factor (JIF). The JIF is a controversial metric (Callaway 2016), and it is worth asking, “What’s behind it?”

In this age of “publish or perish” (Harzing 2007), we take much time and effort to write our papers and get them published. But how much time and effort do we put into finding readers or ensuring that we are reaching the right audience? Are metrics, such as the JIF, good guides for how well we are doing at reaching our target audience?


On the Potential of Preprints in Geochemistry: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Authors : Olivier Pourret, Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Jonathan P. Tennant

In recent years, the pace of the dissemination of scientific information has increased. In this context, the possibility and value of sharing open access (OA) online manuscripts in their preprint form seem to be growing in many scientific fields. More and more platforms are especially dedicated to free preprint publishing.

They are published, non-peer-reviewed scholarly papers that typically precede publication in a peer-reviewed journal. They have been a part of science since at least the 1960s.

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web to help researchers share knowledge easily. A few months later, in August 1991, as a centralized web-based network, arXiv was created. arXiv is arguably the most influential preprint platform and has supported the fields of physics, mathematics and computer science for over 30 years.

Since, preprint platforms have become popular in many disciplines (e.g., bioRxiv for biological sciences) due to the increasing drive towards OA publishing, and can be publisher- or community-driven, profit or not for profit, and based on proprietary or free and open source software. A range of discipline-specific or cross-domain platforms now exist, with exponential growth these last five years.

While preprints as a whole still represent only a small proportion of scholarly publishing, a strong community of early adopters is already beginning to experiment with such value-enhancing tools in many more disciplines than before.

The two main options for geochemists are EarthArXiv and ESSOAr. A “one size fits all” model for preprints would never work across the entire scientific community. The geochemistry community needs to develop and sustain their own model.

URL : On the Potential of Preprints in Geochemistry: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly