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Academic book publishing: where to next?

As a scholarly publisher, Sydney University Press is committed not only to publishing new research-based books, but also to understanding the academic publishing ecosystem, how it is evolving, and what this means for our authors and readers. SUP's Publishing Manager, Dr Agata Mrva-Montoya, recently completed a research project with Edward Luca, looking at the publishing strategies and behaviours of academics in the humanities and social sciences. Their findings raise important questions about the pressures placed on academics to publish in certain ways, and what this means for scholarly publishing.

The Conversation has published an article by Agata and Edward summarising their research. Read an extract below and their complete article here.

Book publishing sidelined in the game of university measurement and rankings 

Academic book publishing is under threat. Global university rankings and competition for funding and international student enrolments are reshaping the research landscape. Academics are under more pressure to win grant funding and publish journal articles, rather than books, and be more strategic in their publishing.

With universities losing billions in revenue due to the impacts of COVID-19, these pressures are only going to increase.

Traditionally, a monograph published with a prestigious publisher has been a key medium to create and disseminate research in the humanities and social sciences. It has also been important for building scholarly careers and reputations. However, our research shows publishing pressures, incentives and rewards are changing ...

Academics are caught in the middle between the pressure to publish in quality outlets versus the need to demonstrate impact in the broader society ...

The different expectations of various stakeholders mean academics receive conflicting advice about publishing strategically. Academics are encouraged to engage with the Australian context and communities. At the same time, they are told to produce research that prestigious international journals and publishers will accept.

These pressures lead researchers to publish in ways that reflect how they are being measured. This appears, in turn, to influence their research agendas. The current research landscape seems to be more a reflection of what is being measured, rather than what is needed by society or would advance knowledge.

Extract from Agata Mrva-Montoya and Edward Luca, "Book publishing sidelined in the game of university measurement and rankings", The Conversation, 18 May 2021. This extract is republished under a Creative Commons licence. To read the complete article, please click here.

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The Conversation