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Special Collections


AGU special collections feature premier Earth and space science research focusing on a particular topic, significant event, or prominent theme. Articles in a special collection are published online as they are ready and will be collated into a virtual issue, allowing quick access to all papers in that collection. Special collections maintain the same scientific rigor and high ethical standards of the rest of the AGU portfolio. In addition:

  • Special collections must fall within the scope of the journal(s).
  • The journal’s Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the content of the entire journal, including special collections; special collection articles are handled with the same editorial oversight as regular papers, undergoing single anonymized peer review (see Peer Review Policy section for general peer review information).
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Benefits of Organizing a Special Collection with AGU

  • Special collection papers are highly cited and downloaded
  • Multiple journals can participate in a cross-journal special collection and all the published papers are hosted on a shared landing page
  • Cross-journal special collections allow for multiple paper types to be submitted to the collection (e.g. Review Articles to Reviews of Geophysics, Technical Reports to Earth and Space Science or Policy Perspectives to GeoHealth)
  • AGU can partner with other societies and publishers to run joint special collections
  • One-click transfer to ESS Open Archive from all AGU journals allows for easy cross-referencing of unpublished papers
  • Special collection organizers may be invited to be guest editors in the participating journals to assign reviewers and make recommendations to the editor
  • The transfer system between AGU journals could help find a home for all planned papers
  • Special collections can be promoted across AGU social media

Submitting a Proposal

Please complete a proposal form. Your responses will be shared with the AGU special collections team and the editor(s)-in-chief of the participating journal(s).


Cross-Journal Special Collections

Cross-journal special collections connect interdisciplinary research from across the AGU portfolio. Cross-journal collections are the preferred option when more than one journal scope may be appropriate for your research and allow for more paper types to be part of your collection. The AGU special collections team can help you identify which journals are the right fit for your topic.


Guest Editors

  • Not all AGU journals use Guest Editors for special collections. The organizers of a special collection may be invited by the journal’s editorial board to act as Guest Editors when needed (i.e. to support a large number of submissions or to provide expertise in a specific topic), but they are not converted to Guest Editors by default.
  • Guest Editors may be invited to assign reviewers and make recommendations on manuscripts which they did not author. To ensure impartial peer review, they do not make final decisions on manuscripts submitted to the special collection they organized.
  • Guest Editors attend Associate Editor training, and their editorial work is overseen by the journal’s editorial board.
  • Guest Editors' credentials will be checked and must be approved prior to acceptance of a special issue proposal.
  • Guest Editors may contribute to the special collection, but their submissions will be overseen by an independent review process. In addition, no more than 25% of the issue’s total content may be authored by the Guest Editors.

Contact us

Please reach out if you have questions or would like more information.


Frequently Asked Questions

A special collection organizer initiates the collection proposal and acts as the point of contact between AGU staff, editors, and collection authors. Special collection organizers advertise the open call for papers, invite papers, write promotional content, follow up with authors on lagging papers.

Special collection organizers may be invited by the Editor in Chief to serve as guest associate editors. Guest associate editors will receive training to work with journal editors on handling papers, finding reviewers, and making recommendations. The final decision on a manuscript will be made by the editor.

Generally, AGU special collections accept submissions for 6 months – 2 years, depending on the length of the project, timeliness of the topic, and/or the readiness of the authors. Organizers can select a timeline that works best for them inside that 6 months – 2 years window. AGU Journals will consider special collection proposals outside that timeframe but the organizers should explain why the additional time is necessary.

Yes, we encourage cross-journal collections when more than one journal scope may be appropriate for your proposed topics. Please review each journal’s scope before you submit your proposal. We also welcome proposals that include special collection collaborations with non-AGU publishers. Please check the publications fee chart because publication fees vary across journals.

Papers are published online as they are ready and will be added to the special collection landing page when the final version is published. Any requests to schedule the publication of articles (e.g., to coordinate publication with another paper or journal) should be communicated to the editorial staff in advance.

Please check our policy regarding unpublished references before submitting. The policy applies to special collection papers as well. Please use a preprint server like ESS Open Archive to publish preprints of manuscripts that reference each other, which relieves authors of uploading drafts of unpublished references as part of their submission package. (There is a 1-click transfer option to ESS Open Archive on our submission site.)

Extensions to the submission deadline are considered, but not guaranteed. We recommend proposing a longer submission window if you predict delays. We aim to have full collections published around the same time instead of papers slowly publishing into the collection over many years.

Yes, you may propose a special collection without a public call for papers. Please state this preference clearly when submitting your proposal and explain why you chose this option.

At least one, but we recommend 2-5 individuals. Successful proposals will consider the diversity (gender, race, geography, and career level) of the organizer group.

Yes, please add the published papers at the top of the list of planned papers and the editors will review them with your proposal.

Please write to [email protected] with your manuscript # and the title of the special collection.

AGU can advertise your special collection on our journal sites, on social media, through various newsletters, and at conferences. Please see our Promotional Toolkit for Special Collection Organizers and discuss your promotional plan with the special collections team after your proposal is approved.