Researchers, whether early stage academics or advanced scholars, are encouraged by their institutions to publish articles in journals, contribute chapters to books and write monographs or textbooks.
Societies and professional organisations also publish journals to keep in touch with their members and share news and knowledge with their network.
Publishing research is important because many universities and organisations receive public funding and grants from research councils or funding bodies that commit them to communicate findings.
In most countries, university research is assessed on quantity and quality. For instance, in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assesses the quality of higher education research in all disciplines. The REF has three aims: to contribute accountability for public investment in academic research and produce evidence of the benefits; to benchmark information and set out reputational criteria for institutions; to communicate the allocation of funding for research. Other countries monitor research in similar ways, not only for increasing the rank of their institution but also to raise their profile when applying for grants.
Other reasons to publish a journal or book include career development within academia and making a meaningful contribution to the understanding of a discipline – whether it is business, medicine, physics, chemistry and engineering or humanities subjects like philosophy, linguistics, classical studies and literature.
Universities and societies also publish journals or books to diffuse studies shared at conferences. Conference proceedings and papers from delegates are compiled into a journal or book and distributed digitally or in print.
Why publishing online?
Digital publishing platforms cater well to today’s world, where people want immediate access to the information they need. Printing a physical book or journal is a long process, which traditionally takes nine months to a year and it bears higher printing and production costs, and less flexibility if the information is incorrect or out of date. It is also not as environmentally friendly as digital options.
Lower costs means to be able to publish more frequently and adapt your book or journal to customer feedback to provide an optimal experience for readers of all abilities – increasing ease of access for people with disabilities. It also provides interactivity with add-ons like hyperlinks, animations, games/quizzes, videos and even augmented reality applications, the so-called dynamic content.
A publisher that also offers print-on-demand services will cater for all institutional or organisational needs, just in case readers prefer a traditional book or journal option.
How to start publishing a journal, book or proceedings online
The best way is to identify a gap in the field for your idea, then research electronic publishers. It is important to understand how each publisher operates and how they can satisfy your requirements. For instance, at Sciendo we can publish scholarly journals and books in the Open Access and in traditional (paid access) models.
Choosing the right digital publisher can be overwhelming and time consuming. So it is crucial to have an idea of what you need beforehand – for instance paid or open access and perhaps the option to offer a print-on-demand alternative.
Other services to assist authors include copyediting, typesetting, marketing and distribution.
It is also important to find out, before you commit, if the platform is easy to use, how much it costs, how interactive it is (for instance if you can add videos, pop-ups and plug-ins to your publication). Other considerations include:
- Is content measurable and mobile friendly?
- Can the publishing platform integrate with other services?
- Will it allow me to target the right audiences?
- What are the sharing tools on offer?
- Is customer support included and to what extent?
Last, but not least, before you sign a contract with a digital publisher, find out how committed to innovation the company offering the platform is. The publishing industry is undergoing fast-paced changes driven by technology and innovation - you don’t want to miss out on the best opportunities to engage audiences across the world.