Submission Guidelines

Journal Structure

Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal designed to communicate with an audience of both academics and community practitioners more broadly. Issues of the journal often have an overarching theme and include feature articles and columns in several distinct categories described below. Most features and columns are solicited by the editorial staff with guidance from the editorial board. In general, Open Rivers does not typically republish work that has appeared in other formats. Authors wishing to propose a feature or column should contact the editors at with a brief abstract or description of the proposed topic and how it might fit in the journal.


Each issue includes original articles that address a particular theme determined by the editorial staff and board. The recommended length is approximately 3,000-5,000 words. Features are read by at least two readers as part of the journal’s editorial policy (see details below). Authors are encouraged to include links and submit photos, video, and other media to accompany their articles.


Each issue includes pieces of varying lengths and formats that explain particular kinds of data, focus on specific places, discuss pedagogical approaches and student work, and review books, exhibitions, online resources, and other media. Columns are typically shorter pieces of approximately 500-1,500 words.

  • Primary Sources is a close reading of a particular resource, collection, data set, or other source. These sources may offer first-hand knowledge of an event, place, or time or reflect the author’s commitments in some way. The author might explain what constitutes a “primary source” in their field or discipline or may discuss the meaning, history, or use in research of a particular primary source.
  • Perspectives offers insights that diverge from the main theme of the issue or give a different viewpoint. This might include current events, interviews, or direct counterpoints to the dominant thread of the issue.
  • Teaching and Practice highlights recent classroom work or discusses issues related to teaching and learning, in both formal and informal settings. This column may include examples of student work.
  • In Review includes reviews of recent books, exhibits, symposia, blogs, podcasts, films, and websites. 
  • Geographies focuses on spatial representations and organization of information, considering these a critical way of enriching understandings of place, community, and water. 

Editorial Policy

Open Rivers considers subjects that inherently resist categorization and reduction into siloed boxes of knowledge and interest. The journal’s editorial policy reflects an interdisciplinary and multi-sector approach as well. It is less about asking whether a particular work contributes to the body of knowledge in a specialized discipline than it is a consideration of the arguments a writer makes, whether the claims are supported (either by argument or amassing of appropriate evidence), and whether the language is adequately clear and accessible to the intentionally broad audience. Features will be read by at least one member of the editorial staff and another reader who can comment on these criteria, and feedback will be provided to the author as needed to correct errors of fact and for issues of clarity. Columns will be circulated outside the editorial staff before publication only if there is a particular editorial need.

The journal’s editorial process serves a secondary function of building a dynamic, inclusive community of scholars, practitioners, and engaged thinkers across divisions of academic discipline, professional practice, and geographic location.

Authors of feature articles who may be interested in a more traditional double-blind peer review process (e.g., to meet specific requirements of their academic institution or discipline) should contact the journal editors. In such cases, the work would be sent (without author name) to scholars or professionals with relevant expertise. The editorial staff would share (anonymous) comments with authors and make recommendations for revisions before accepting the article for publication. The peer review process requires additional time to complete.


We are happy to accept queries from authors interested in publishing in our journal. There are no submission or article processing charges. If you would like us to consider including your original work as a feature article or a column in a future issue of Open Rivers, please send an email inquiry to with a short statement about your background, what you would like to write, and how you see it connecting to the mission of the journal. From there, we’ll work with you to discuss how we might be able to include your work in a future issue of the journal. Please note that we primarily publish new material (rather than previously published work) and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accept all proposed submissions. For more information about the audience and emphasis of the journal, we recommend reading the About Open Rivers page before submitting your proposal. Thanks for your interest in publishing in Open Rivers. 


Open Rivers follows the Chicago Manual of Style for questions of spelling, grammar, and punctuation, including use of the author-date system for references and text citations. A style sheet is available upon request.

Submission Criteria

Authors should submit documents as email attachments to Documents should be in Microsoft Word, double-spaced in a 12-point font (preferably Times or Calibri). Each image should be sent as a separate file in one of these formats: PNG, JPG, GIF, or TIF.  Ideally authors should submit the highest quality, largest version of the image they can find.  Authors interested in using other media such as video or audio should contact the editors at

Unsolicited submissions are strongly discouraged; please send a query to the editors first.

Permissions and License

All authors will receive a permission/release form to be signed and returned before publication may take place. Authors are responsible for securing permission for use of student work and media, including photos, videos, and drawings (and appropriate attribution must be included for publication).

All articles published in Open Rivers are distributed with a Creative Commons Noncommercial Attribution license (CC BY-NC 4.0). This means that each author holds the copyright to her or his work, and grants users the rights to: share (copy and/or redistribute the material in any medium or format) or adapt (remix, transform, and/or build upon the material) the article, as long as the original author and source are cited, and the use is for noncommercial purposes. Permission is not needed for these noncommercial uses. Read the summary terms, or the full legal license code. For permission for other uses, or questions about use, please contact the editors at