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Academic journal


Academic publishing describes a system of publishing thatis necessary in order for academic scholars to review work and make it availablefor a wider audience. The "system," which is probably disorganized enough not to merit the title, varies widely by field, and isalso always changing, if often slowly. Most academic work is published in journal article or book form.

Most established academic fields have their own journals and other outlets forpublication, though many academic journals are somewhat interdisciplinary , and publish work from several distinct fields or subfields. The kinds ofpublications that are accepted as contributions of knowledge or research vary greatly between fields.


Peer review

Main article: Peer review

Peer review is a central concept for most academic publishing; other scholars in a field must find a work sufficiently high inquality for it to merit publication. The process also guards against plagiarism . Failures in peer review, while they are probably common, are sometimes scandalous (the Sokal Affair is arguably one example, though this controversy also involved manyother issues).

Publishing in the sciences

Main article: Scientific literature

Most scientific research isinitially published in scientific journals ; see that articlefor much more information on publishing in the sciences.

Alternative forms of publication in the sciences include Tech Notes , for minor research results and engineering and design work (including computer software), and books for large projects, broad arguments, or compilations of articles.

Publishing in the social sciences

Publishing in the social sciences is very different in differentfields. Some fields, like economics , may have very "hard" or highly quantitativestandards for publication, much like the natural sciences . Others, like anthropology or sociology , emphasize field work andreporting on first-hand observation as well as quantitative work. Some social-science fields, such as public health or demographics , have significant shared interests with professions like law and medicine , and scholars in these fields often also publish in professionaljournals.

Publishing in the humanities

Publishing in the humanities is in principle similar to publishing elsewherein the academy; a range of journals, from general to extremely specialized, are available, and university presses print many new humanities books every year.

However, scholarly publishing requirements in the humanities (as well assome social sciences ) are currently a subject of significantcontroversy within the academy . In many fields, such as literature and history , several published articles aretypically required for a first tenure-track job, and a published orforthcoming book is now often required before tenure . Some critics complainthat this de facto system has emerged without thought to its consequences; they claim that the predictable result is thepublication of much shoddy work, as well as unreasonable demands on the already limited research time of young scholars. To makematters worse, the circulation of many humanities journals in the 1990s declined toalmost untenable levels, as many libraries cancelled subscriptions, leaving fewer and fewer peer-reviewed outlets forpublication; and many humanities professors' first books sell only a few hundred copies, which often does not pay for the cost oftheir printing. Some scholars have called for a publicationsubvention of a few thousand dollars to be associated with each graduate student fellowship or new tenure-track hire, in order to alleviatethe financial pressure on journals.


  • William Germano. Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious About Serious Books. ISBN 0-226-28844-7 .
  • John A. Goldsmith et al. "Teaching and Research" in The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career. ISBN 0-226-30151-6 .
  • Cary Nelson and Stephen Watt. "Scholarly Books" and "Peer Review" in Academic Keywords: A Devil's Dictionary for HigherEducation. ISBN0-415-92203-8 .

See also

External links

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