Dartmouth and Partners Launch ‘Elementa’, a New Scientific Journal


Dartmouth has joined a scientific publisher and four other leading research universities to launch a new online journal containing original peer-reviewed research on how humans are altering the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological processes—and what can be done about it.

[[{“type”:“media”,“view_mode”:“media_large”,“fid”:null,“attributes”:{“class”:“media-image size-full wp-image-34440”,“typeof”:“foaf:Image”,“style”:“”,“width”:“250”,“height”:“274”,“title”:“kapuscinski”,“alt”:“”}}]] Professor Anne Kapuscinski is one of two Dartmouth scientists on the ‘Elementa“ editorial team. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene plans to publish its first articles in July. A number of scientists say we have moved into a new geologic epoch, which they are informally calling “anthropocene.” This new period in time, they say, is defined by the profound impact humans are having on the world.

Elementa will be free and available to anyone with an Internet connection, unlike many scholarly journals, for which a subscription—often costing thousands of dollars a year—is needed. Organizers of the new journal say its open access will make the research more accessible, including to policy makers who may be influenced by Elementa’s research.

A staff of two at Dartmouth will do the work of putting together the publication, both in the collection and dissemination of research articles, and in publishing the work online. Elementa’s business model has institutions and grant-based projects paying to publish articles by their researchers, rather than subscriptions supporting the publication and its staff.

“In hosting the production of Elementa, Dartmouth is pleased to take a leadership role in campus-based publishing collaboration, with the goal of openly sharing critical research on some of the most challenging issues in the contemporary world. This open-access model serves an urgent need—to bring the best scholarship to bear more directly on serious global issues,” says Dartmouth President Carol L. Folt.

The creation of Elementa was “driven by a desire to provide high-quality scholarship to a global public at a more affordable cost model than traditional publishers have achieved,” says David Seaman, Dartmouth’s associate librarian for information management, who has been involved in the new journal’s creation for the past year. “Anyone in the world will be able to have access to this scholarship.”

Professor David R. Peart is one of two Dartmouth scientists on the ‘Elementa” editorial team. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Dartmouth and the other universities—the University of Colorado, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan and the University of Washington—are partnering with BioOne, a nonprofit publisher of scientific journals based in Washington, D.C., on Elementa.

The new journal “is a natural direction for BioOne to pursue insofar as it exemplifies the organization’s fundamental mission to foster sustainable scholarly publishing through close collaboration with the scholarly communications community. The enthusiastic engagement by the leading universities represented by our editors-in-chief, and by Dartmouth as the production base, provide the foundation for Elementa’s commitment to high-quality research,” says Susan Skomal, BioOne executive director and chief operating officer.

Research featured in Elementa will embrace the concept that basic knowledge can foster sustainable solutions for society and will initially be organized in six areas, one of which will be led by a pair of Dartmouth scientists. Each area will have its own editor-in-chief, who will soon be joined by an international team of prominent associate editors. The editorial team members are:

  • Atmospheric Science: Detlev Helmig, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Earth and Environmental Science: Joel D. Blum, University of Michigan
  • Ecology: Donald R. Zak, University of Michigan
  • Ocean Science: Jody W. Deming, University of Washington
  • Sustainable Engineering: Michael E. Chang, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Sustainability Sciences: Anne Kapuscinski and David R. Peart, Dartmouth
Elementa will publish research continuously, rather than on a monthly or other time-based cycle. Data used in the published research may also be made available as part of Elementa’s articles, giving readers access to the scholarly evidence upon which the research is based.

“The sustainability sciences domain in Elementa is going to advance in a really significant way not only new knowledge about sustainability issues, but also understanding of how to use that knowledge as a pathway to action. Our hope is that knowledge will actually lead to change that helps nature and people to flourish,” says Kapuscinski, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Science and chair of Dartmouth’s Environmental Studies Program.

Biological Sciences Professor Peart says, “The editors-in-chief have developed a shared vision for Elementa, while retaining some independence in defining the scope and development of each domain. The Sustainability Sciences domain will focus on a great challenge of this century, the transition to sustainable human-biophysical systems. The domain will publish fundamental scholarly contributions that address this challenge, with no disciplinary constraints.”

Susan J. Boutwell