Author Resources

Your Open Rivers Team

  • Patrick Nunnally, Editor
  • Phyllis Mauch Messenger, Administrative Editor
  • Laurie Moberg, Assistant Editor
  • Joanne Richardson, Production and Media Manager

Production Process

You’re writing for Open Rivers! Congratulations!

The first phase of Open Rivers production involves you writing your first draft while coordinating with the Editor, Patrick Nunnally, on the overall voice, message, and tone of your piece. We are looking for features and columns that are accessible to a wide variety of non-specialist readers and relationship to the major themes of the journal itself, and frequently the themes of the issue particularly.

Once you and the Editor agree that your work is ready to proceed, it will get handed off to the Editorial Team. The Administrative Editor, Phyllis Mauch Messenger or the Assistant Editor, Laurie Moberg will be in touch about copy editing your piece and sending it out to readers for review. This isn’t our Peer Review process, it’s to ensure that the themes of the article are legible to a wide variety of audiences. The Editorial Team will then be in touch with you about making changes to your piece to reflect copy edits, and to address any comments by the Readers. See the Editorial Guidelines area below for more details.

During this editorial process, the Production and Media Manager, Joanne Richardson, will be in touch about arranging illustration for your piece. During this time we ensure that we are illustrating your piece to reflect its content and message, as well as ensuring that the technical details around file types, permissions, and rights are all taken care of. We will also discuss any other forms of media that you would like to include; such as video, audio, or downloadable files. See the Image Guidelines area below for more details.

As we get to the end of the editorial process, we’ll start moving your piece into production. Just before production we’ll confirm that we have the final version of the text, all the images and permissions, and any special instructions. The Production and Media Manager will build a Digital Author Preview of the piece that you will be able to see online, and respond to. We can make minor changes at this point. Editorial will also, at this point, make sure that we have a bio, a location for your piece, a location for you, and your author agreement.

Once we’ve gone through this process for all pieces in an Issue, we’ll announce what we call the Friends and Family Release. You’ll get an email from the Editor inviting you to preview the issue online generally, and your piece specifically. At this point, changes are no longer made, and the Production and Media Manager starts building the PDF versions of the articles and issue.

A few days later, when the PDF’s are done, checked, and uploaded, we release the issue to the public with an email announcement, followed up by social media engagement and general fanfare. At this point, we can all sit back, relax, and enjoy the issue… until it’s time to work on the next one.

Editorial Guidelines

House style sheet

About the Author agreement

Two Locations

Image Guidelines

We enjoy media-rich pieces, and will be happy to work with you to help you illustrate your work. Each column or feature needs at a minimum, one good quality image to use as the featured image at the top of the article. Columns will typically have two to five images, and features will typically have four to eight images. We have had some articles with many more, so please don’t feel limited by these numbers, especially if it will help you craft the best version of your work.

File Format

We prefer images as JPG, PNG, or TIFF.  Ideally their width is no less than 1000 px.  

File Sizes

We prefer file sizes larger than one megabyte because that usually indicates a high quality image and gives us more options, but smaller file sizes might be fine if the dimensions are good and the image is crisp.


We need to know where in the article your image will fit best, please indicate precisely where the image is to be inserted. Note that the online version of the article will be able to place images very close to this point, but in the PDF in may be on the next or previous page.

Captions and Credit

We need to know the captions for the images, and how to credit them.

Standalone Files

When sending images to us for publication, do not embed the images in other files such as PowerPoints, Word Docs, Google Docs, or PDF’s. ZIP files are fine.

File Sharing

Authors can send us images using their preferred sharing platform. Other authors have shared a Google Drive folder with us, used DropBox, emailed images, or dropped them off at our offices on a thumb drive.

Permission and or Rights to Publish

We need the author to confirm that we have either permission or rights to publish an image. We can print an image if it is

  • in the public domain, or
  • if its copyright/license allows us to publish (sometimes called “Creative Commons“), or
  • if it is All Rights Reserved and we have specific permission to publish. An email from the owner of the image clearly stating that we can use the image in Open Rivers is usually sufficient.

Featured Image

We need one image to be the featured image for each article – this image is displayed at the very top by the title, and is used for previews. This image must be high quality, and it is ideal if this image is at least 1200 px wide, and intended to be viewed in landscape format (wider than it is tall). Sometimes this is a unique image in the article, and sometimes it is a repeat of an image that appears later in the piece.  This image is typically to be considered attractive, and representative of the piece. Sometimes, we have to crop an image to make it work.

Open Rivers Assistance

If the author is struggling with illustrating their piece, we may be able to offer some limited support procuring an image.

If the author is struggling with establishing whether or not we/they have permission or rights to publish an image, we may be able to offer some limited support identifying the status of an image and/or procuring permission.


What different types of articles can be published in Open Rivers?

Each issue is composed of three or more longer features and at least four columns, not including the introduction.


Features are longer, usually two or three times the length of a column, and relate deeply to the theme of the issue.

In Review

Generally reviewing an event, book, or exhibition.


Issues of place and spatial knowing.


Something in contrast to the rest of the issue, often from a deeply personal perspective.

Teaching and Practice

Explores issues of teaching and practice as they relate to our areas of interest, and the people doing the work.

Primary Sources

Investigates the stuff upon which we do research, may be a digital collection, an actual artifact, or a piece of artwork.


Written by the editor and/or guest editors, the introduction frames the issue and relates it to the theme.

What does the copyright status of the journal mean for the author’s rights and potential redistribution of Open Rivers?

We have multiple ways that we describe the copyright status of works in Open Rivers. Ultimately, these two statements legally cover most of it:

  • The copyright of these individual works published by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing remains with the original creator or editorial team. For uses beyond those covered by law or the Creative Commons license, permission to reuse should be sought directly from the copyright owner listed in the About pages.
  • Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Ultimately, this means that the author retains the copyright to their work. Unless we state otherwise, this also allows people and entities to republish the work in whole or in part non-commercially (they can make no money off this) and they need to attribute the original author.

As the rights holder, the author or owner of the image can still sell their own work commercially.

Non-commercial uses typically involve copying and redistribution of articles or entire journal issues to classrooms, attributed use in non-commercial presentations, lessons, or reviews, or republishing in a collection with the same license (Attribution and NonCommercial). One particularly interesting use is the inclusion of our journal in the eGranary Digital Library, also known as the “internet in a box” which is deployed to digitally isolated populations: