We are delighted to welcome you to Geo, the first fully open access, international journal published by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Wiley. Geo is dedicated to publishing high quality articles from across the spectrum of geographical and environmental research and has an interdisciplinary focus that spans the sciences, social sciences and humanities. Geo welcomes research contributions that bring new understandings to geographical research agendas, including human–environment interactions, and that address the importance of geographical enquiry to knowledge of, and action about, contemporary issues. Papers that foster methodological development and collaborative forms of knowledge production will be of high priority for the journal. We also encourage submissions that make innovative use of quantitative and/or qualitative datasets and agenda‐setting review papers on topics of international significance. Recognising that interdisciplinarity is key to advancing geographical and environmental research, we invite collections of papers in the form of Open Collections, which focus on a particular geographical or environmental theme. In short: Geo welcomes original research articles, leading review papers, and innovative data papers, which make use of and advance the opportunities for interdisciplinary, online and open exchange.

Geo is being launched in a context where new geographies of knowledge production are emerging. There are wide‐ranging opportunities in the move to open access publishing, as academic research is being made immediately accessible to previously distanced audiences and users. There are innovations in the generation, circulation and dissemination of geospatial and environmental data, which are demanding new theoretical and methodological approaches in academic research, as well as changing the use of data in policy, commercial and everyday environments. There are also new provocations for interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange, which are conceptual – as in the broadening of critical discussions around the concept of the Anthropocene, and practical – as in the growing emphasis on interconnected thinking for joining up research, policy and practice at the nexus of environmental and other challenges. In this opening editorial, we indicate the ways Geo will be seeking to shape these landscapes of knowledge production through the engagement of interdisciplinary agendas across the geographical and environmental sciences, the presentation and representation of data and the opening up of research.

Engaging interdisciplinary agendas

Geo will foster communication within and beyond geography and the spatial and environmental sciences, by bringing scholarship from the humanities, social sciences and sciences into one journal. Geo is launching with a physical and human geography Co‐Editor from the outset. The constitution of our Editorial Board reflects our interdisciplinary aspirations, with representation from excellent scholarship across a wide range of institutions, international locations and disciplinary areas. We are expertly equipped to manage high‐quality peer review across the full breadth of the discipline and beyond.

Geography and its cognate disciplines are vital to understanding and addressing the contemporary challenges faced by humanity and the environment as the world's population exceeds 7000 million people. Topics such as climate change, food security, water resources, global health, sustainable urbanisation and the challenges of inequality all require interdisciplinary collaboration and we welcome contributions on, and at the nexus of, these as well as other issues. However, engaging interdisciplinary agendas is not just about identifying topics of shared interest and importance. We invite contributions that change interdisciplinary interactions and chart the emergence of research agendas in the light of new opportunities for academic collaboration and data exchange. The languages that human and physical geographers use to articulate their understanding of issues and interactions differ. This is to be expected and often welcomed; there is a pressing need for heterodox understandings of contemporary issues, alongside careful and collaborative working together. We anticipate the journal will be a key site for the publication of interdisciplinary research articles as well as the invention of new forms of interdisciplinary interaction through novel methods of data visualisation, multidisciplinary diagramming, online experimentation and participatory research (see, for example, Cutler 2013; DeLyser and Sui 2013; Whatmore 2013).

Presenting and representing data

Geo encourages submissions that present new sets and/or offer innovative representations of data in online environments. Big data, geo‐tagged data and open data all present new opportunities for geographical and environmental researchers. The data deluge is a turbulent flow, with distinctive geographical implications (Graham and Shelton 2013). The production of data is changing location; as Sheppard (2013) suggests, the open web is a ‘massive, online distributed geographic information system – replete with multifaceted, multi‐media georeferenced information’. At the same time, immense inequalities persist with respect to North and South information geographies, which the open web might reinforce rather than mitigate (Graham 2014). Nonetheless, digital and online capabilities are transforming the means of sharing and presenting data across the humanities, geographical and environmental sciences (Kitchin 2014). The scale of data is shifting, bringing transformations in how data are processed into useful knowledge. These practices are changing understandings of scientific infrastructure and epistemology in ways which are still to be charted (Leonelli 2014). To date there have been few opportunities for the data‐intensive geographical and environmental sciences to publish descriptions of their datasets, alongside the space to foster a dialogue about these methodological and philosophical shifts.

The journal will be a key node in developing and responding to the innovative potential for knowledge production and exchange in new data and digital environments. We welcome submissions focusing on qualitative, as well as quantitative, data. Geo will normally publish a digital object identifier (DOI) link to the underlying dataset1 alongside the Data or Digital Humanities paper. As well as publishing data articles and articles about data, we will be able to incorporate a wide range of multimedia files, for example video, figures, interactive maps, audio clips, 3D structures and more, at the article level. We also encourage the production of graphical abstracts, where appropriate. These new forms of data not only offer ways of deriving new knowledge, but also provide new ways of encouraging interdisciplinary and stakeholder exchange.

Opening up research

There is immense potential in making research findings free of charge to anyone who wishes to read them. For researchers, it offers increased visibility, usage and impact for their work. It has the capacity to enhance possibilities for collaboration throughout the research process by increasing communication between disciplines, promoting the engagement of users, and growing international audiences. Geo is launching in a national context where making research open access is increasingly a requirement for funded researchers2. International opportunities and mandates for open access publishing are also expanding rapidly3. The 2013 European Commission report on Open Access Strategies in the European Research Area concludes ‘OA is likely to soon become the dominant form of dissemination of peer‐reviewed scholarly articles in the ERA, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and US’ (Caruso et al. 2013, 38). Geo is compliant with these domestic and international funding mandates. By being made immediately open access, articles will be visible to extensive international audiences for research.

Yet, as well as bringing opportunities, there are challenges in the transition to open access publishing, which are experienced unevenly across the academic landscape. These include: journal reputation and article quality, the agreement of licences for reuse, and author access to Article Processing Charges (APCs). All submissions to Geo will undergo prompt and rigorous editorial and peer review, fundamental to the best scholarship. Authors will have a choice of Creative Commons licence, giving them control over how their research is used4. The journal website and the RGS‐IBG Guide for Researchers have been updated to assist authors in understanding open access requirements, as well as highlighting the opportunities of open access publishing5. Wiley is providing advice to authors on accessing institutional funds, as well as supporting a scheme for APC waivers for indicated international authors6. As Editors, we are committed to seeking opportunities to ensure this move to open access in Geo is also a shift to open participation for both the authors and audiences of internationally excellent research.


The opportunities and challenges brought by these changing geographies of knowledge production are not unique to Geo. In being alive to these changing dynamics and actively debating them in the journal, we want to contribute to shaping them productively. We have begun this process in conversations with the RGS‐IBG, Wiley and the Editorial Board, whose probing questions have helped us forge the aims and terms of operation for the journal. We are delighted to end this introduction by extending this conversation and welcoming new readers and contributors.

As Editors we invite you join this debate. We want the journal to focus on engaged research, whether individual or collective, that is interested in and attentive to the wider contexts through which it is fashioning research agendas, collecting data, generating evidence and contributing concepts. We seek to emphasize again the distinctiveness of geographical and environmental ways of thinking, whether located in disciplinary geography or elsewhere. We also want to encourage openness and experimentation with sensibilities that cross conventional disciplinary divides, whether constructed around policy communities, methodological assumptions, human–environment interactions or North–South relations.

The journal will make research, review and data articles immediately available to all at the time of publication. Authors will be supported in circulating their research through social media, including article links without subscription restrictions. Audiences are invited to join these exchanges with the opportunity for commentary and interaction via the journal blog (http://blog.geographyandenvironment.com/). This shift towards open access changes the traditional networks of academic communication, and we hope this will encourage papers that showcase the full spectrum of geographical and environmental research, generate work that will be required reading for those inside and outside these academic disciplines, and create an extended community interested in applying research to critical geographical and environmental challenges in the decades ahead.


  • 1 Geo will not host datasets. Datasets should normally be located within an official repository and, preferably, be assigned a digital object identifier.
  • 2 In the UK, the RCUK has a preference for immediate open access with maximum opportunity for re‐use, and HEFCE has announced that in order to be eligible for REF2020, journal articles accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 should normally be made available in an open‐access form.
  • 3 For example, US Federal Agencies with research expenditure over $100 million are required to produce plans to increase access to the research they have funded. See Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States for more information. The Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) has also launched a mandate that will promote open access to articles resulting from publicly funded research.
  • 4 Authors will have a choice of the following Creative Commons License Open Access Agreements (OAA): Creative Commons Attribution License OAA (CC BY); Creative Commons Attribution Non‐Commercial License OAA (CC BY‐NC); Creative Commons Attribution Non‐Commercial‐NoDerivs License OAA (CC BY‐NC‐ND). To preview the terms and conditions of these open access agreements please visit the Copyright FAQs hosted on Wiley Author Services (http://authorservices.wiley.com/bauthor/faqs_copyright.asp) and visit www.wileyopenaccess.com/details/content/12f25db4c87/Copyright‐‐License.html
  • 5 The Royal Geographical Society guides are available online at www.rgs.org/GettingPublished and in print upon request.
  • 6 Please visit www.wileyopenaccess.com/details/content/1311efc23f4/FAQs.html and www.wileyopenaccess.com/details/content/13707a1ddf6/Waivers‐and‐Discounts‐on‐Article‐Publication‐Charges.html for more information about Wiley's work on open access.
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