Frequently asked questions. For tips on finding content on the AER website, visit  “How to get the most from your search”

AER membership

What types of organisations can become an AER member?

AER membership is open to any organisation or group that produces evidence-based information on the management of biological resources. That includes Trusts, NGOs, government agencies, environmental consultancies, boundary organisations, and research collaboration groups working on applied ecological problems.

Why is there a charge?

First and foremost, we want to make sure that evidence gets used to make informed decisions. If information is behind a paywall then this can be a significant barrier to access, even if you know that the information exists. We know that charging for archiving the information forms a barrier at a different end. To thrive in the long term and continue to provide this storehouse of information, AER needs to be sustainable. A membership model allows us to grow and become sustainable for the long term.

Can I become an AER member as an individual?

We operate AER membership at the organisation-level, but we’ve set our lowest membership tier to make it as accessible as possible for small organisations and sole-traders. We are continuing to explore sustainable ways to make archiving of documents and other benefits of AER membership accessible to as many people as possible.

Is AER membership the same as BES membership?

No. Although AER is run by the BES, the memberships are separate and offer different benefits (although both AER members and BES members receive a discount on publication charges in Ecological Solutions and Evidence). Visit the BES website to find out more about BES membership.

Uploading content to AER

How do I add my documents to AER?

Your organisation needs to be a member of AER in order to add content. We have a range of membership options available. Please check the membership page for details.

Authors of articles published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence can also upload grey literature documents associated with their published article to AER. Please see the journal guidelines for more detail.

Do the documents have to be written in English?

We can receive documents written in most languages and there is an option to filter search results by language. If your document is in a language other than English, a translated summary will be created during the archiving process. We do, however, recommend that you add an English-language title within the first page of the document if possible.

Are documents checked or reviewed?

We perform basic checks to ensure that the content falls within the broad scope of AER (and you haven’t accidentally uploaded your favourite recipe or something that is totally unrelated to environmental management!) but the grey literature is not validated or peer-reviewed by the AER team in any way. If you are performing a search and want to read only peer-reviewed content, filter by the content type to show only journal articles. Find out more about the journal peer review process.

How long before my documents appear on AER?

Uploaded content will appear in AER 6-8 weeks after they’ve been exported. Your document needs to be checked, then sent to our service provider (CABI) for tagging and indexing before being made available through the search function on AER. Your documents will be displayed with relevant metadata including the member organisation name, logo, contact details, names of authors and an auto-generated abstract or summary.

I want to submit a journal article, how do I do that?

At the heart of AER is our peer-reviewed open access journal, Ecological Solutions and Evidence. All articles in Ecological Solutions and Evidence appear in the AER repository soon after publication. The Journal publishes several different article types including flexible, short “Practice Insights” articles, newer article types such as Data Articles and Registered Reports, as well as standard Research Articles and Reviews. Our high-profile Editorial Board have experience in ecological research, practice and policy and consists of both applied researchers working in academia and practitioners in a range of roles. Please visit the Journal’s website for more information and read our Guides to Better Science.

Using AER

What can I do on the AER website?

The purpose of AER is to preserve information and make it searchable and easier to discover. The core of AER is our a searchable collection of documents, journal articles and summaries which you are able to browse, search and filter to find the stored information in your areas of interest. If you find a document that you want to share with other colleagues, just send a link to the document page; it’s free for anyone to access and they won’t need to register on AER unless they wish to.

More content will be added all the time so we strongly recommend you register (it is quick and easy to do) to receive weekly alerts. You can also browse our updates and events page for useful information and activities.

Do I need to login or register to use AER?

All of the content on the search page is available for free and you can access all these document without registering. If you choose to register, then this will allow you to select your topics of interest so that you’ll receive an alert when new content in that area is added to the site. This resource is developing so the topics covered and the content available will grow over time. If you’re a BES member, you can log in using your BES details and update your preferences for AER.

How do I know whether the information is accurate or good quality?

The philosophy underpinning AER is that we provide a place to permanently store information and allow more comprehensive searching of content. Lots of “grey literature” is made available online, but it easily becomes lost or links stop working as webpages move or websites are reorganised. AER allows you to view a greater range of information from different sources so when different evidence, outcomes, opinions or advice exist, you will be able to see this more easily. The purpose of AER is not to provide advice or recommendations, but to give a more comprehensive picture of the available information and its source so that you can use your own judgement (see How to use grey literature).

How can I use documents from AER?

Documents are made available under a CC-BY licence (or, for some public sector documents, an OGL licence which will be clearly marked on the document) – this means that you can use and share the document and the information it contains as long as you attribute the original source.

How do I reference or cite documents from AER?

Under the CC-BY licence, you must ensure that you attribute the original source when using information. We recommend you follow a standard citation format by including the authors, the year the item was published, the document title, the publisher or organisation who produced it, and provide the URL (web link) displayed when viewing the item record on AER. The URL you see when viewing the document information page is stable and will take readers directly to the document, regardless of whether they are logged in to AER.

What happens if the content is inappropriate?

As mentioned above, the grey literature is not peer reviewed and we provide further information here about how to use grey literature. If, however, you see content which is inappropriate then please contact us. Please note that we encourage debate and constructive critique as this helps to improve best practice. Alternative views are welcome and dialogue should be supported by evidence.

I can’t find the information I need, what do I do?

This is a new resource and content is being added all the time. If you can’t find content on the topics you are interested in now, then do check again later or register so that you can receive alerts when new content is added.

How can I give feedback?

Contact us! AER is a dynamic and developing resource and we warmly welcome feedback and constructive criticism. If you have ideas and would like to make suggestions for how AER can improve in future, please get in touch.