AGU Partnership with Wiley-Blackwell on Journals and Books Publishing


20 July 2012

Last month, in a message titled, “Transforming AGU Publishing in an Evolving Marketplace,” I described for you the process underway to evaluate our options for taking AGU publications to the next level and positioning them for the future. This process extended over a period of seven months and reached its culmination last week.

Now I am delighted to announce that we have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Wiley-Blackwell, the scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons. Effective 1 January 2013, Wiley-Blackwell will be AGU’s partner in journals and books publishing.
This partnership is a significant step forward in transforming AGU publishing consistent with the goals of our strategic plan. It brings to AGU additional capabilities and expertise in forward-looking publications strategy, processes, global reach, and ease of use and discovery by authors, editors, and readers. It offers many advantages over our current model of self-publishing that will add to members’ satisfaction.

Wiley-Blackwell was chosen over other commercial and not-for-profit publishers because of its cultural fit with AGU, its commitment to new publishing models such as open access, its demonstrated capacity to expand the breadth and depth of AGU’s scholarly publishing, and its innovative approach to technology and new product development. Central to Wiley-Blackwell’s business model is partnership with societies like AGU, so we share many organizational values and strategic priorities with regard to publishing.

In addition, Wiley-Blackwell already has a strong presence in the geosciences with more than 50 journals in their portfolio. However, their current titles complement rather than compete with AGU’s titles. In this respect, AGU’s journals will be the flagship of Wiley-Blackwell’s offerings in Earth and space science.

Under the terms of the agreement signed last week, AGU will retain control and ownership of all its journals and the scientific aspects of publishing including editorial control and oversight.  As in the past, AGU will select editors and will have full authority over the scope, the peer review process, and the selection of content. A revised publications staff structure for supporting the editorial function is under development.

Effective 1 January 2013, Wylie-Blackwell will assume the functions of journal production, marketing and sales, distribution, and subscription management. AGU publications staff and a transition team consisting of AGU and Wylie-Blackwell staff will assure the quality and continuity of publishing operations.  Details of the agreement that address the specifics of books publishing will be developed in the coming weeks.

This decision was reached as the culmination of a rigorous evaluation process that involved the Board of Directors, Council, Publications Committee, journal editors, and staff. In late 2011, the Board authorized staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to investigate alternatives to self-publishing. After reviewing proposals submitted in response to this RFP, the Board authorized further exploration of the option. The Council, Publications Committee, and journal editors developed criteria, with member input, that were considered in making a decision about partnering.

A smaller working group consisting of the Executive Committee of the Board, the Board liaison to the Publications Committee, the Publications Committee chair, a journal editor, and AGU executive staff completed the evaluation process. Their deliberations included an evaluation of AGU’s internal publication capabilities compared to publisher proposals.

On 2 July, this working group recommended to the Board that (1) AGU partner on journal production, distribution, sales and marketing, and subscription management; and (2) that AGU select Wiley-Blackwell as its partner. After thorough discussion, the Board voted unanimously to approve motions for both recommendations.

The Board also recognized the substantial effort that dedicated AGU editors and staff have made in improving AGU publications over the past several years. We are grateful for their unwavering and sustained commitment to journal quality and all they have accomplished.

If you want to learn more about the AGU/Wiley-Blackwell partnership and what it means for you, please read the 18 July press release and updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) available on the web site.  Also, stay tuned for news about a Town Hall at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting where you will get to meet representatives from Wiley-Blackwell. There you will hear first hand about our partnership and the exciting opportunities it provides to “transform the future of AGU’s scientific publishing in an evolving marketplace”, which is the number one goal of our strategic plan under Scientific Excellence and Collaboration.

In the meantime, I look forward to sharing with you more information about this partnership as it evolves.


Mike McPhaden

President, American Geophysical Union

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