This year’s Peer Review Week theme, “Trust in peer review”, prompted me to think about what trust means for Lithosphere. It turns out that it has been a central theme in the transition the journal has made this year to be an open access, community-driven journal published by GeoScienceWorld (GSW) with the support of seven participating societies.*

Before the transition, Lithosphere was an established open access journal published by Geological Society of America (GSA). It now has an expanded scope, publishing both specialized and inter-disciplinary research across the breadth of earth, planetary and environmental sciences. It considers direct submissions plus manuscripts transferred from a number of the society partner’s journals.

With the goal to help societies of all sizes participate in Gold Open Access publishing and comply with funder mandates, with significantly reduced risk and investment to each of them individually, the new journal wouldn’t have been possible without a relationship of trust between the seven society publishers and GSW. They all came together to create a trusted open access option that broadens the reach of the individual societies and opened the doors to publish a broader scope of relevant multi-disciplinary research than they could publish previously on their own.

Building trust in Lithosphere is a key part of encouraging Editors and Authors to transfer manuscripts to the journal. We are now earning the trust of the community as we deliver the journal in a new form, with new systems and processes, at the same time as opening up to new communities who don’t know the journal so well. A large part of that is trusting our publishing partner Hindawi to help us do things differently. Their services are supported by Hindawi’s experienced team who oversee screening and publication policies, and a production staff who see accepted papers through the workflow and readied for publication.

When researchers submit to Lithosphere, they are trusting us with their work. Part of Lithosphere’s ethos is for the peer review process to feel constructive and cooperative. We want to provide useful feedback, while not delaying the release of acceptable research. We therefore have high expectations of peer reviewers with a two-week deadline for peer reviews. We need to give huge thanks to our peer reviewers for their thoughtful and swift contributions, which help to advance research.

We also give huge thanks to our trusted Editors. Acceptance is based on the rigor of the methods, rather than the appeal of the results. Editors make an objective assessment of scientific process (methods, analysis, and ethics) to assess for high standards of scientific rigor and reproducibility, also using their discernment that the research represents a useful addition to the research literature. Does it advance the science by telling us something new?

Trust is key to the collaboration and transparency that underpin open science. We are genuinely interested in how trust manifests in the scientific process and the role we play in that. We continue to work on representation on our Editorial Board, so that we are hearing from the whole community. As a PhD student, our Community Engagement Editor, Sophie Williams, helps us to understand the needs of future researchers. There is still work to do to increase representation on the Editorial Board.

So, yes, trust has been and continues to be vital to Lithosphere! We will keep working on it so that the journal fulfills its aim of being a trusted open access option that expands the reach of the individual societies. Let us know if you’d like to be involved!

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