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Environmental Research Letters

About Environmental Research Letters


Environmental Research Letters (ERL) is a high-impact, open-access journal intended to be the meeting place of the research and policy communities concerned with environmental change and management. ERL is dedicated to bringing together intellectual and professional scientists, economists, engineers, and social scientists, as well as the public sector, industry, and civil society, all of whom are engaged in efforts to understand the state of natural systems and, increasingly, the human footprint on the biosphere.

The style and impact of an ERL article should be such that it will appeal to the journal’s broad and multi-disciplinary readership, with results or findings of interest and accessible to researchers working in other fields. This gives authors the opportunity to convey the importance of their work to a wider community (including policymakers and the public) in addition to specialists in their field.

Within this broad and inclusive scope, some key areas of interest include (but are not limited to) the following, with a key emphasis on linkages between topics and consideration of policy implications:

  • Climate variability and global change: earth system modelling, hydrological modelling, variability of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and cryosphere, weather and climate extremes, natural hazards, resilience and tipping points.
  • Management of natural resources: coupled human and natural systems, biodiversity and conservation, forestry, fire regimes, remote sensing approaches to monitoring and evaluating ecological change.
  • Human and ecological health and feedbacks: ecosystems and human health, associated human health impacts from air and water pollution, projected health risks of climate change, sustainable cities and health.
  • Agriculture and sustainable food systems: natural resource use, land management and natural habitats, soil carbon sequestration, water scarcity and food security, environmental, economic, and societal trade-offs.
  • Energy transitions to a low carbon economy: renewable and sustainable energy systems, fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, energy access, impacts of energy technologies and policies on societies and the environment.
  • Sustainable socio-economic development: circular economy, global environmental governance, environmental justice and ethics, climate change adaptation and mitigation, environmental impacts on the economy and society.

ERL focus collections are specially themed groups of articles that highlight exciting work conducted in a high interest or rapidly emerging subject area. To see further areas of interest please visit the focus issues page.

ERL will not consider the following:

  • Research without a clear environmental impact or relevance
  • Studies which do not demonstrate a clear and significant contribution to either the advancement of the field and/or human efforts to address environmental global change
  • Highly specialized or technical methodological research, which is not accessible to a broad, multidisciplinary audience. Studies of this type may be appropriate for submission to Environmental Research Communications
  • Local or regional case studies which do not adequately show how results/findings are timely and significant in a broader context outside of the study area. Studies of this type may be appropriate for submission to Environmental Research Communications

Why publish in Environmental Research Letters?

  • High standards: our professional in-house editors manage the peer review process, and alongside our Editorial Board ensure standards are maintained at a high level and customer service is prioritized.
  • Fast publication: we are committed to providing you with a quick, professional service to ensure rapid first decision, acceptance and publication. Once accepted, your article will be accessible to readers within 24 hours and will include a citable DOI.
  • Open access: our open access model removes any barriers for our readers resulting in articles receiving over 1600 downloads on average within the first six months of publication.
  • Transfer opportunities: as well as accepting direct submissions, the journal also offers you a quick and easy solution to transfer your manuscript from another IOP Publishing journal if it does not fit that journal’s scope or significance criteria. Articles are transferred along with peer review reports to save time and avoid duplication of work for reviewers.
  • International Editorial Board: as a diverse and inclusive group of leading scholars, our Editors embody the core mission of ERL to champion increasingly interdisciplinary approaches to environmental research.
  • Society owned: IOP Publishing is a leading society publisher of advanced physics research. Any profits generated by IOP Publishing are invested in the Institute of Physics, helping to support research, education and outreach around the world.
  • Making an impact: with an Impact Factor placing ERL amongst the highest journals in its field, a broad readership, and published articles frequently covered in the media, a wide reach for your work is ensured.

Article types

Authors can publish supplementary material alongside their article. Supplementary material includes additional tables, figures, methodological descriptions, and data files that provide details on assumptions or results. Please also refer to the data policy for further information about research data, data repositories and data citation.

The word limits of all article types exclude titles, abstract, figures, tables, captions, and references. ERL welcomes submissions of the following article types:

  • Research Letters: concise high impact original research articles, maximum 4000 words, making a timely, novel, and significant contribution to environmental science and research. Authors must ensure their articles are written as concisely as possible with the journal’s broad readership in mind. Letters which exceed 4000 words, without a thorough justification in a cover letter (i.e. why shortening the article would adversely affect rigor or clarity) may not be considered. For qualitative research, authors may choose to style their article as a ‘summary for policymakers’; utilizing supplementary information to meet the requirements for length. In such instances, the supplementary information must be presented concisely and clearly in a way that transparently demonstrates the evidence for the claims made in the main text.
  • Topical Reviews: ERL’s preference is to lead the way in publishing quantitative, evidence-based review articles of important environmental questions. Please see the Environmental Research Reviews page for full details on article requirements, and how to submit your proposal or article to the journal.
  • Perspectives: evidence-based articles, maximum 2000 words, exploring a contemporary topic from a personal standpoint, expressing the opinions and judgment of experts in the field. These articles should present limited published data or case study examples(s) to support the perspective offered. Discussion on the future direction of research is encouraged, alongside any policy implications or recommendations. These articles must exclude an abstract, have no more than two figures and tables, and fewer than 20 references.
  • Viewpoints: invited commentary articles, typically 1000 words, serving to either highlight the significance, impact and wider implications of recent research appearing in ERL, or to comment on significant research developments.
  • Comments and replies: critically constructive commentaries on articles published in ERL within the past six months. Comments submitted after this date will not be considered. A comment article must pertain to the original ERL article, be timely, focussed, factually based, of clear value to readers, be measured and professional in tone, and provide a significant and useful addition to the scientific literature and on-going scholarly discussion (i.e. not simply identifying error(s) in the original published article – these are addressed via a correction). A maximum length of three journal pages is suggested.

Special requirements

Justification statement

To assist the in-house ERL Editors in assessing article suitability on submission, authors are encouraged to provide a brief justification statement alongside their manuscript. This statement should outline how the article adheres to ERL’s criteria for further consideration and why the article will be of interest to a broad multidisciplinary audience.

In your statement, the following criteria for further consideration should be addressed (up to 150 words):

  1. What are the new results or findings reported in your article?
  2. Please outline specifically how these new results or findings make a significant contribution to either i) the advancement of environmental science and/or ii) human efforts to address environmental global change. Submissions that do not clearly demonstrate this will not be considered for publication.
  3. Why will these results or findings be of broad interest to researchers working in other disciplines or regions?
  4. Why is ERL the most appropriate publication outlet for your research?


You should upload this justification statement as a separate document at the ‘File Upload’ step when submitting your article online and select ‘Justification Statement’ under the ‘File Type’ drop down box. Additional cover letter comments can be submitted separately at the ‘Policies & Information’ step.


Social media and video abstracts

Authors are encouraged to submit a one-line summary (max. 100 characters) as a ‘social media abstract’, succinctly describing the key results or significance of the work. This must be provided at the ‘Article Information’ step of the online submission of your article. The summary may be used for promotional purposes of accepted articles, via the @IOPenvironment social media account and may be edited before publication. Authors are also encouraged to provide relevant personal or institutional twitter accounts to support with promotion.

Authors are encouraged to submit a video abstract following article acceptance. Video abstracts are aimed at increasing your visibility and that of your work. Through this media, you can go beyond the constraints of the written article to personally explain the importance and value of your work to the journal’s audience. Further information found here:

Peer review

The following summary describes the peer review process for Environmental Research Letters, using the ANSI/NISO Standard Terminology for Peer Review:

  • Identity transparency: single-anonymous, double-anonymous (author choice)
  • Reviewer interacts with: Editor
  • Review information published: review reports (author and reviewer opt in), author/editor communication, reviewer identities (reviewer opt in)

Our Publishing Support website provides more information on our reviewing process as well as checklists in both English and Chinese language to help authors prepare their manuscripts for submission.

If an article is not accepted for publication, we may offer the author the opportunity to transfer their submission to other suitable journals we publish.

Inclusivity and diversity

IOP Publishing recognises that there are inequalities within the scientific publishing and research ecosystems. We are committed to a progressive approach to inclusivity and diversity, and are working hard to eliminate discrimination to foster an equitable and welcoming publishing environment for all.

IOP Publishing follows Guidelines on Inclusive Language and Images in Scholarly Communication to ensure that journal articles use bias-free and culturally sensitive communication. We ask authors to please follow these guidelines in their manuscript submissions.

More information about our work on inclusivity is available on our Open Physics hub.


Environmental Research Letters maintains the highest standards of publication and research ethics and is a member of the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE). Authors are expected to comply with IOP Publishing’s Ethical Policy.

Research data

Environmental Research Letters has adopted IOP Publishing’s research data policy. Please check that your article complies with the policy before submission.

Please note that this policy requires authors to include a data availability statement in their article.

For any questions about the policy please contact the journal.

Many research funders now require authors to make all data related to their research available in an online repository. Please refer to the policy for further information about research data, data repositories and data citation.

Open access

Environmental Research Letters is a fully open access journal. Articles are published under a CC BY (Creative Commons Attribution) licence. Articles are freely available to everyone to read and reuse immediately upon publication, provided attribution to the author is given. Publication is funded by article publication charges (APCs).

For more information on IOP Publishing’s open access policies please see our Open access page.

Publication charges

Environmental Research Letters has no subscription charges and the costs of publication are fully funded by article publication charges (APCs).

Article publication charge* £2050 €2430 $2820
Reduced article publication charge* for Group B countries** £500 €575 $675
Reduced article publication charge for Group A countries** £0 €0 $0

*excluding VAT where applicable

**eligibility criteria can be found here

APCs only apply to articles accepted for publication; there are no submission charges.

There are no other charges for publishing in Environmental Research Letters.

Transformative Agreements

Environmental Research Letters is included in our transformative agreements which allow authors from some institutions to publish open access without paying an APC.

Find out if you’re covered by an agreement

If you are covered by an agreement, use our author guide to help you submit your paper.

Countries where we have transformative agreements include:
Austria, Canada, Croatia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Paying for open access

Various discounts, waivers and funding arrangements are available to support our authors. Visit our Paying for open access page for further details.

Abstracting and indexing services

We work with our authors to help make their work as easy to discover as possible. ERL is currently included in the following abstracting and discovery services:

  • Baidu Scholar
  • CAB Abstracts
  • Chemical Abstracts Service
  • CNKI
  • DOAJ
  • Ei Compendex
  • GeoRef
  • INIS (International Nuclear Information System)
  • Inspec
  • J-Gate
  • JST
  • MyScienceWork
  • NASA Astrophysics Data System
  • Naver Academic
  • ProQuest; Central, Engineering Collection, Engineering Database, Environmental Science Collection, Environmental Science Database, Natural Science Collection, SciTech Premium Collection, Technology Collection
  • R Discovery
  • Scilit
  • Scite
  • Scopus
  • Semantic Scholar
  • Wanfang Data
  • Web of Science (Science Citation Index Expanded, Current Contents Agriculture, Biology & Environmental Sciences, Current Contents Physical, Chemical & Earth Sciences, Essential Science Indicators)
  • WTI AG
  • x-mol

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