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A change in continuity

Christine Kosmopoulos, Natacha Aveline et Emilie Lavie
Traduction de Marie Diebold
Cet article est une traduction de :
Un changement dans la continuité
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
Un cambio en la continuidad

Texte intégral

1Denise Pumain announced it in her last editorial of December 20, 2022: a page is turning for Cybergeo journal. Denise Pumain is leaving the its management after 26 years and is entrusting us with the reins of a renewed executive committee for a three-year mandate. We thus inherit a history that is not very long, compared to the journals that have accompanied the history of the discipline, but very rich and very much anchored in the present and, we hope, in the future.

2What legacy are we talking about? From the study on digital scientific journals carried out in 2002, it appears that Cybergeo was the first journal in the world in geography and most probably in social sciences that met three original criteria: 1. natively digital, 2. "free", 3. with a readers' committee. Only seven geography journals, created after Cybergeo, in the United States and in Europe met the same criteria. However, only two of them (Demographic Research, Revista Electronica de Derecho Ambiantal) can still be found on the web today.

3Since its launch in 1996, Cybergeo has been a pioneer of "open access", which did not yet have a name, but was rather referred to as "free scientific journals" or "free access". In 1998, the Association of Research Library counted 1,002 scientific journals, most of them from large private publishers who had decided to invest massively in digitizing and putting their paper journals online in pdf format. Among these journals, none are French, they are mainly hard science journals whose online access is subject to a new business model of subscription by "bouquet of journals", foreshadowing the inflation, unbearable for libraries, of the costs of digital and paper subscriptions that they will have to support for almost two decades. If these publishers show their commercial ambition, they do not bring any novelty in their editorial model. Simply distributing in pdf format, they do not promote interactivity, full-text search or referencing in search engines, which are of no interest to them since they are only accessible via portals subject to paying access. From 1998 onwards, the number of online journals will double every year, at the same time as commercial and institutional journal portals are deployed (, today OpenEdition, was created in 1999 with two history journals).

4From the beginning, Cybergeo adopts an original model which is still in use today: the articles, coming from spontaneous submissions, are published in open access and in continuous flow in html format in order to allow a full text search. Particular care is taken to enrich the metadata written manually in the source code of the articles, to allow the widest possible dissemination in the various search engines; at the time Google was only one of many. The whole activity of the journal is ensured by the scientific collective from the submission to the publication. In order to compensate for the absence of geography journals on the web, Cybergeo publishes until 2006 a review of the scanned summaries of several dozens of paper geography journals.

5Faithful to her visionary approach, Denise endeavored to extend the scope of the journal towards works on data and models in geography. Thus, the "GeoOpenMod" (2014) and "Data paper" (2017) sections were created to allow researchers to freely share the data they have produced and to guarantee the replicability of modeling protocols. To our knowledge, Cybergeo is the first geography journal to publish Data papers and Model papers.

6Joining the portal in 2007, Cybergeo brings its multilingual publication model and opens up to new partnerships, such as in Canada where our submission site is hosted, and in the United States for the launch of our data collection in Cybergeo Harvard Dataverse for data papers. Cybergeo has been for almost twenty years a model of sustainability of open access publishing. The journal is now taken as a reference for the Diamond model by national and European authorities, a model that aims to sustain open access journals without APC.

7The journal also has one of the highest international distribution rates of the OpenEdition portal, and is listed on dozens of international sites. These results were made possible by the assiduous collaboration of an editorial board formed by an international network of researchers committed to the quality and freedom of scientific expression to which we pay tribute here. Statistics show that readers abroad come, in order of number, from Germany, the United States, Canada, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, China, etc. The commitment initiated about ten years ago in the translation of articles and metadata into English, Spanish and Chinese is no stranger to our increasingly international readership. In total, the journal has published more than 1500 papers over the past 26 years, including more than a thousand research papers from spontaneous submissions, with a rejection rate of about 33%.

8It is in view of these advances that we can measure the extent to which the direction taken by Denise Pumain at the end of the 1990s was not only audacious but also visionary, while the digital format had long been seen as unattractive by authors and by editorial boards! We are committed to continuing the work accomplished by Denise and all the team members that have participated over the past 26 years, so that Cybergeo remains a quality journal at the forefront of open science, both for its authors and for its readers.

9However, this change in management implies a change in organization. The two-headed management will be able to rely on a committee of eight deputy directors, whom we thank for their support, who will ensure the editorial and scientific work of the publication sections. Upstream, the pre-selection committee made up of members of the steering committee and the editorial board will remain very active and reactive to respond quickly to the flow of spontaneous submissions.

10This editorial is also an occasion for us to put forward a special file made of contributions from colleagues who have been active in the journal during these 26 years, which testify to the history of the journal and to Denise Pumain's contribution to open science in general, and to the journal in particular.

11We are very honored by the trust placed in us by Denise Pumain and the Editorial Board. We commit ourselves to do our absolute best to ensure that Cybergeo continues to be an open, demanding and stimulating publication space for joint reflections on geography.

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Pumain D. "Are cyberjournals a promised land for researchers?". Environment and Planning A, 1997, 6, pp.951-954.

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Référence électronique

Christine Kosmopoulos, Natacha Aveline et Emilie Lavie, « A change in continuity », Cybergeo: European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 24 février 2023, consulté le 23 mai 2024. URL :

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Christine Kosmopoulos

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Natacha Aveline

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Emilie Lavie

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