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Author Rights: Publishing Considerations

Information for researchers to consider during the publication process.

About This Page

Welcome to second and final step of the Guide for Authors. 

This page offers information on how to make an informed choice about the journal (and publisher) in which you publish your work. 

WARNING! We are aware that many graduate students and post-docs are being approached with offers to publish their theses. Please read the content in the box "Have you been contacted by a Publisher?"

Resources - Choosing a Journal

All the resources below help researchers choose a journal in which to publish. While these can be a helpful starting place, the best place to go for journal recommendations will be your colleagues, your supervisor, and your Liaison Librarian; all of these sources will be more in tune with the publishing practices and standings of the journals in your field. 

Resources - Avoiding Predatory Publishers

How to Assess a Journal by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries

CARL how to assess a journal

Choosing Where to Publish

Think. Check. Submit. is an initiative lead by representatives from several academic and scholarly publishing organizations to encourage researchers to find the best publishing venue for their research. Watch this video to find out more, or visit their website, Think. Check. Submit. for detailed information about the steps they suggest. For even more help choosing a journal, contact your Liaison Librarian

Have you been contacted by a Publisher?

Unsolicited Publisher Contact

What's the issue? 

Many graduate students and post-docs have been contacted with an offer to publish their thesis. A lot of these publishing offers are coming from vanity presses that take advantage of researchers' desire to be published to advance in their field. 

What's a vanity press?

Vanity press: a publishing house that publishes books at the author's expense —called also vanity publisher

"Vanity Press." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Okay - so all vanity presses are bad?

No. Vanity and print-on-demand presses have their benefits, and are usually more popular in fiction circles. In fact, if all you want is to see your thesis in print, or if you want to have a few professional looking copies of your thesis to give to your family, friends, and colleagues these presses can be helpful. Additionally, if you are willing and able to put in the effort of designing, editing, marketing and distributing your thesis yourself, these presses are extremely helpful in keeping your printing costs manageable.

However, a few of these presses have started targeting academic environments, and marketing themselves to look like publishers with academic or scholarly intent with your work. Often communications sent to you will be flattering, and they will try to convince you that they've specifically chosen your work because it is exceptional. In reality, many of these presses will spam all of the authors of theses found in an institutional repository (such as UWSpace), without even reading your work.  

How can I spot a troublesome vanity press?

Any combination of the following factors should raise alarms:

  • They contact you, unsolicited, and want to publish your thesis. 
  • They offer to publish your thesis for free, but as you move through the process they reveal hidden fees (for editing, or designing, etc).
  • They try to pressure you into buying mass quantities of your thesis.
  • They appear academic at first, but offer no proofreading, editing, or peer review of your work. OR They appear to offer editing, but they come back to you with no corrections or suggestions, or only superficial changes. 
  • The contract they want you to sign assigns your copyright to them, and guarantees you low or no royalties.

Reasons to be concerned about Vanity Presses

  • Publishing a book with a vanity press is not likely to look good on your CV, and may in fact be detrimental. 
  • You may end up signing away your copyright to the content you publish. This would mean that you would need permission from the press to reuse or republish your content.
  • There is usually minimal or non-existent distribution of your book and no marketing efforts. Along with contracts that only promise a small portion of royalties, this means that you are unlikely to make gains of money or prestige, and are unlikely to truely spread the word about your work.

Want to know more?

Read the following articles written by fellow academics and librarians:

A list of Print-on-demand publishers, self-publishing/”Vanity presses” and other non-traditional publishers for librarians and authors. - by Lara Seven Phillips, Pacific Collection Librarian, University of the South Pacific*, Suva, Fiji.
This article explains the ins and outs of vanity and print-on-demand publishers, and provides a list of publishers that fit these criteria. Consulting this list is a good place to start if a publisher has contacted you. 

Lambert Academic Publishing Continues to Spam - by Christopher Collins, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UOIT.

An opinion piece about the practices of a particular print-on-demand publisher, Lambert Academic. Links to several other commentaries on Lambert's (and VDM, its parent company) practices. 

Publishing your thesis online: Golden opportunity or Pandora's box? - by Catherine Couturier, University Affairs

An article describing the advantages and disadvantages of using print-on-demand services to publish your thesis.

 

Publishing Concerns and Considerations

Publishing your work should be an exciting experience.

To keep it that way consider the following before publishing your work:

The below has been adapted from Think. Check. Submit (2016), and is used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY) license

Criteria   Predatory Journals Reputable Journals
Do you or your colleagues know the journal or publisher?          No. 

Yes.

You may have read articles from this journal before, or your colleagues have published in the journal already.

Can you easily identify and contact the publisher? The publisher may have odd contact information. For example, the journal title may be "British Journal of Endoscopy" but the mailing address is in another country. The journal may offer no contact information at all. 

Yes

The publisher's information is easily found, their name is clearly displayed and contact information is available for phone, email and mail. 

Is the journal clear about the type of peer review it uses? These journals may be totally silent on the type of peer review, or offer do not specify about the type offered. 

Yes. 

The journal will specify the type of peer review in use; ex. single blind, double blind, or open. 

Are articles indexed in services that you use?

No.

These journals may claim to be indexed in particular services, but are most often not included.    

Yes.

Consider how you find information you use in your research. Think of the databases you use, such as Scopus, Web of Science, Sociological Abstracts, or Medline. Will your work be included in these kinds of sources? Will your colleagues and other people in your field be able to find your work?

Is it clear what fees will be charged?

No.

Predatory journals often are ambiguous about their article fees, or have hidden fees that are unknown to the author until much time has been invested. Always ask the publisher for a clear picture of all fees included in the publsihing process up front. 

Yes. 

Reputable journals will state their article fees upfront, and detail when and how you will be charged.

Do you recognise the editorial board?

No. 

It may be the case that a predatory journal creates a fake editorial board. In these cases checking up on the credentials of the people listed can be a good way of finding out if the people on the board will be reliable editors of your work. 

Yes. 

Look for journals whose editorial team includes authors of papers you've read, prominent members of the field, and includes people with the kinds of credentials you expect. If anything looks suspicious, follow up! Check out the personal or academic websites of the editor to get a better picture. 

Is the publisher a member of a recognized industry initiative?

No. 

Yes. More appicable to Open Access publishers. 

Look for Open Access publishers or journals to be included in any of the following:

Can you find reviews of the journal or publisher?

Yes, but they are mostly negative.     

Yes, but they are mostly positive or neutral.