Research Spotlight: Ready to publish?

There are many things to consider when you are trying to publish a book or a journal article. As a researcher, you will want to publish your work where it will have the most impact and the widest possible readership. Another consideration is whether to publish in an Open Access platform. You will also want to avoid any predatory publishers and vanity presses.


With books, there are many publishing houses to choose from, and with the growth of the Internet there has been a growth in self-publishing as well. It is generally considered more impactful to publish with a well-known publisher, such as a large university press (eg. Oxford University Press) or a well-known commercial publisher such as Palgrave-McMillan or Routledge. It is probably not a good idea to self-publish academic research as it requires more work from the authors for questionable returns in terms of readership, exposure and reputation. However, self-publishing tools are constantly evolving and improving so it might be a good ‘option of last resort’. Some proponents of self-publishing argue that it is another method of ‘democratising’ knowledge.

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The pressure to publish has also led to a growth in the number of vanity presses. Unlike self-publishing, which can be done online or as a print-on-demand service, vanity presses will take your money in exchange for publishing copies of your book. These businesses charge the author a fee, which is often exorbitant, to publish a limited run of books, with little or no editing, promotion, or dissemination work done by the publisher. Vanity presses are one form of predatory publishing and you should avoid them.

Journal articles

When publishing a journal article you should aim for the top journals in your field. To discover the top-ranked journals in your field you can search the Scimago Journal & Country Rank website. With Scimago you can get data on a particular journal or on a particular field of research. Other considerations are the relevance and discoverability of a journal.

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You may also consider publishing in an Open Access journal, which gives full access to the articles to everyone. The fact that people do not have to pay to read Open Access articles means that those articles often receive higher readership and can be more widely disseminated, as opposed to traditional journals that require paid access. However, there is a general perception, which is not always accurate, that Open Access journals are of lower quality. You will need to weigh the benefits of the increased exposure of Open Access with the prestige of publishing in a top ranked journal. Regardless of whether you select an Open Access or traditional journal you should always ensure that the journal you have selected is on the ERA list of journals. This will ensure that your publication is counted in ERA exercises and data collection.

Predatory publishers

The Internet and the advent of Open Access publishing has seen the parallel growth in predatory publishing. These fraudulent businesses abuse the Open Access publishing model by soliciting work and payment from academics with the promise of publishing their work. Some of these “publishers” do in fact publish the work, but in journals that have no standing in the academic community and do not have a peer-review, or in most cases even an editorial, process. Predatory publishers will often send emails directly to academics in order to solicit payment. If you are unsure about a publisher please contact a senior client services librarian in your faculty (see below) who can check the credentials of a publisher for you.

Getting help

If you have any further questions about scholarly publication please contact one of the Senior Client Services librarians in your faculty:

Good luck with your publishing!