There are several issues that you will need to consider if you decide to publish your research. You will need to think about how you want to publish your work – as a book, a book chapter, a journal article, and then choose a publishing model. You must have all the necessary rights to publish your research. If you wrote the material with co-authors, you will need to get their permission to publish the work, as multiple authors will share copyright between them. If you have included third party copyright material (i.e. created by someone else) in your research, you will need to get permission from the copyright owner to include their material. Finally, you will need to check if there are any restrictions or conditions on publishing your research – for example it contains commercial-in-confidence material or it is requirement of your funding or research agreement that you publish the results of the research on open access. If so, you will need to comply with these restrictions or conditions and this may affect how and when you publish your research.
Choosing a Publishing Model
There are a number of different publishing models that you can choose from such as:
- An established or traditional academic publisher - most of the large global academic publishers publish both books and journals.
- Open Access (OA) - OA Publishers are becoming more wide-spread and by publishing under Open Access, you enable other people to freely access your work.
- Print-on-Demand (POD)- technology that enables books to be printed as required rather than in large print runs that are costly to produce and manage. In some cases, POD is the process by which a particular publisher produces their material; in others POD is the publishing model
- Self Publishing - the author takes responsibility for publishing the material themselves.
- Vanity Publishing - the author pays a publisher to publish the work.
Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages and the will vary depending on your discipline and the type of research. As publishing evolves to adapt to changes in technology and how consumers access published materials, many models are incorporating aspects of other models to reduce costs and/or make them more competitive. For example, many academic journal publishers allow their authors to pay a fee for their article to be made available on OA.
Finally, in most cases, when you publish material, you will be required to sign a publishing or author agreement. This agreement outlines the rights you grant the publisher and which rights you will retain over your work. A publishing agreement is a legal document and you should understand it fully before signing it.
Traditionally, research has been published with a reputable and recognised academic publisher as either a journal article, book, book chapter or conference paper. Usually, authors submit journal articles to a particular journal, where if selected they are peer-reviewed and edited. Books and book chapters are generally either submitted for consideration or commissioned by the publisher. Journal articles are usually published in both print and electronic format. Books are published in print but it is becoming more common for them to be published electronically as well.
For most researchers, it is important for their academic career and reputation to have their research peer reviewed and published in the highest ranking and prestigious academic journals or in the case of books with a reputable publisher. A researcher's publishing history is often an important criteria for academic promotion and also obtaining future research funding.
One of disadvantages of this publishing model, is that the published research is only available to those researchers who have a subscription to the journal or can afford to buy the book. Often subscription and book costs are prohibitively expensive. Many libraries, particularly smaller ones, cannot afford these subscriptions.
In order, for the publisher to recoup their costs and make a profit, they require the author to either assign copyright in the work (generally the case for journal articles) or to grant an exclusive licence to the publisher (some journal articles and most books). This can result in the author losing rights over their work either permanently or for a certain period of time. This may mean that the author may not be able to use their own work (for example as teaching material).
Open Access and Open Licensing
You may wish to consider making your research available on open access or under an open licence, for example Creative Commons. As copyright applies automatically, it is the default position whenever an eligible work is created. Many authors and creators would like to make their work available for people to use with fewer restrictions than allowed under the Copyright Act without needing to give express permission. Open access or open licensing can help to facilitate this.
Open access is generally defined as material that is freely available online for anyone to read, download, copy, print, or link to the full texts without having to pay to access the work. Open access material is often made available via an open access repository, such as the University of Melbourne ePrints Repository. There are also open access journals available, where articles can be freely accessed online without the need for a paid subscription (See Directory of Open Access Journals). Open access material is usually indexed by search engines such as Google and can therefore be easily found and accessed by other researchers.
Open licensing schemes, like Creative Commons, allow authors and creators to choose how they will allow people to use their work. Any work can be licensed in this way – books, films, music, photos, sound recordings, software etc. Instead of exercising all of the rights granted under copyright, authors and creators only choose to exercise some of their rights. Usually, you must acknowledge the creator of the work if you copy or redistribute the work. Under some licences, material can only be used for non-commercial purposes.
For more information see: Open Access (publishing).
Print on Demand
Print on Demand (POD) is a new publishing technology that allows publishers to print material “on demand” rather than printing large runs that either exceed or underestimate demand. POD provides both authors and publishers more flexibility. POD is particularly well suited to small publishers or presses. POD also enables authors to bypass a publisher completely and self publish. Some of the advantages of POD include:
- Maintaining availability – with POD, books never go out of print as additional copies can be printed as required.
- Managing uncertainty – POD makes it easier for publishers to print the required number of copies and avoid having to store or dispose of excess stock.
- Niche publishing – Under POD it is financial viable for small presses to publish niche titles with a limited or specialised audience.
- Variable formats – books can be printed in a variety of formats including alternative formats to assist people with disabilities.
For more information see Print on Demand.
Self publishing is where an author publishes their own work at their expense. Often the author edits and designs the layout for the work themselves, although they may choose to hire freelance editors and designers. They are also responsible for the marketing and distribution of their own work. The author retains all rights to their work and any income generated from the work. Many authors who self publish utilise a print on demand service to print their work. Self publishing can be effective for established authors who have a profile that makes self-marketing easier. For more information see Self Publishing.
Vanity publishing is a form of self publishing where the author pays a publisher or a press to publish and distribute their work. Often the fee paid only covers the cost of publication and distribution; editing and design layout is not included in the fee, although some vanity publishers may charge additional fees for editing and design. Vanity publishing is often criticised for allowing authors to publish material that might not be marketable and saleable and that has not necessarily been the subject of an independent editorial process. For more information see Vanity Publishing.