We introduce an innovative data publishing journal for the Earth System Sciences. A brief overview on the ideas and principles of publishing data is given, in particular to emphasize the different categories of research data and their individual prerequisites for publication and quality assurance and control. Earth System Science Data, published by Copernicus Publications in cooperation with the Helmholtz Open Access Project, is an Open Access journal dedicated to the peer-reviewed publication of datasets. The articles hold context and any documentation necessary to assess data quality and refer to the dataset in a certified repository. Peer-review of data in a “classical” journal environment simultaneously offers a reward, promoting data publication and facilitates reuse of data through trust in its quality.