Open access in GIScience and geographic data science

open access, GIScience, journals, GIS

This page provides a curated list of open-access venues for GIScience, geographic data science, quantitative geography, and cognate fields. It also provides some advice on predatory publishing and its dangers. As my perspective is inevitably partial, I invite the community to send me new entries that I might have missed. When possible, the list includes the current Article Processing Charge (APC). The criteria for inclusion in this list are simple, and largely based on the excellent check list by ThinkCheckSubmit:

  1. Reputable journals have reputable editors and reputable editorial boards. By “reputable”, I mean researchers working in internationally-recognised universities and research centres. There is indeed some subjectivity and circularity in this judgement: Many publishers may be known and respected in one field and not others, or too young to be evaluated.
  2. Real peer review by reputable referees, which requires at least 6-8 weeks, and, consequently, an acceptance rate lower than 100%.
  3. Inclusion in scientific indices and databases.
  4. Professional typesetting. Life is too short to read aesthetically displeasing documents.

Note that this list includes mega journals, but does not include “hybrid” journals, which combine pay-walled and open-access articles (most traditional journals are now offering expensive open-access options). I do not consider impact factors and other bibliometrics, as I find them of little use to evaluate journals that were created less than 5 years ago. For a discussion of predatory publishers, see below.


Open-access journals for GIScience

  • Journal of Spatial Information Science (JOSIS): This is the only reputable open-access journal that is actually free for both authors and readers. It has top GIScientists both as editors and editorial board members. LaTeX is mandatory. APC: 0.
  • PLOS ONE: It is a popular mega journal, with no thematic focus, high acceptance rate, but real peer-review. At this point, it appears widely read and well-established. APC: 1,595 USD.
  • EPJ Data Science: This is a reputable, selective, and visible Springer publication in the European Physical Journal series, showcasing works by top researchers. It is suitable for work with a geographic focus. APC: £865.00 / $1350.00 / €1100.00.
  • Nature Scientific Reports: While being way less selective than the flagship journal Nature, this is a highly visible, fashionable, and pricey mega journal. It often publishes high-impact geographic works. APC: £1290 / $1790 / €1490.
  • GEO: Geography and the Environment: This is a recently-opened interdisciplinary geography journal by the Royal Geographical Society. It accepts papers across human and physical geography. Note: Now this journal is free for all UK researchers. APC: $1,800/£1,150/€1,480.
  • Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards: This Springer journal focusses on GIScience and provides the possibility of publishing datasets and software tools, making them easier to present as official research outputs. APC: £660/$1030/€840.
  • ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information (IJGI): This journal is growing in size and is backed by the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, a reputable organisation. However, serious concerns and accusations tarnish its publisher’s reputation (MDPI). Anecdotally, the quality varies widely and the acceptance rate seems very high. APC: 1000 CHF / £800.

Do you know other open-access GIScience journals? Contact me.


Open-access conferences

  • GIScience: One of the main international conferences in Geographic Information Science. The proceedings are published with Dagstuhl (see an example). Registration fees cover publication costs.
  • COSIT: Since 1993, COSIT is a biennial conference about theoretical aspects of space and spatial information. The proceedings are published with Dagstuhl. Registration fees cover publication costs.
  • The Web Conference: This is a top conference in computer science and web science, with an acceptance rate below 20%, which often publishes geographical work. The proceedings are published open-access on ACM. See an example.

Do you know other open-access conferences for GIScience work? Contact me.


Open-access publishers for conference proceedings, edited books, and monographs

  • LIPIcs–Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics: This is an inexpensive, high-quality platform for conference proceedings by the Schloss Dagstuhl–Leibniz Center for Informatics. COSIT and other GIScience conferences (see below) have moved from Springer to LIPIcs, with considerable savings. The platform does not provide typesetting. The LaTeX template is mandatory, and can therefore be a barrier to some authors. APC: 60 EUR per article.
  • R bookdown: Rather than a publisher, this is a tool that allows creating long R manuals with embedded code chunks. Lovelace et al. (2019) provide an interesting example: Their “Geocomputation with R CRC Press book has an open-access bookdown version (i.e. a nicely packaged website). This is a promising approach to write and update technical manuals, for which Word and even LaTeX are ill-suited formats.
  • CEUR Workshop Proceedings: This is a German platform to publish workshop proceedings completely for free. The service is thoroughly no-frills and does not do typesetting (hence LaTeX is highly recommended). Not pretty, but it does the job. See an example.
  • Ubiquity Press: This UK publisher, initially funded by University College London, has produced several edited books in GIScience. The cost for a volume is in the range of £4,000-5,000. See an example.
  • University College London Press: This is a good UK-based, open-access university press for monographs, which are unusual in GIScience, but common in geography (e.g. Laura Vaughan’s 2018 Mapping Society book).

Do you know other open-access publishers suitable for GIScience work? Contact me.

Last update: Apr 2020

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