Periodically, COPE gets requests for the development of discussion documents, guidance and flowcharts on publication ethics issues related to book publishing. Many of our members publish both journals and books, and a number of these members reference COPE guidance on journal publishing and ethics as providing useful information on particular topics related to research and publication ethics.
What are the particulars of ethics in book publishing? Does book publishing require independent consideration with respect to publication ethics?
What are we looking at when we talk about books?
Books cover a range of materials, many of which are treated differently and many are treated the same within book publishing. Books can be original monographs, anthologies, text books or conference proceedings.
Original monographs include original research, whether theoretical or empirical. These can be sole authored or co-authored and will usually be published after full peer review.
Anthologies come in various forms. They can be: a collection of previously published articles which are brought together in a thematic manner; a collection of solicited original articles on a particular theme; or a combination of original and previously published articles on a particular theme. Anthologies may go through various reviews, ranging from editor reviews of proposals to traditional double blind peer review.
Text books can be books which organise established knowledge on a particular topic for the purpose of education, and can be targeted at some level of student learning. Text books may or may not receive the same standard of peer review as monographs.
Conference proceedings. COPE will address this topic separately at a later date.
Books can be published by many different kinds of publication processes, including, increasingly self-publication.
Questions for discussion
Are most of the publication ethics issues the same in book publishing as in journal publishing (eg, plagiarism, authorship, ethics approval, consent, peer review)?
Are there particular problems with books (eg, how to retract a full book? How to retract part of a book–a single chapter within an anthology/edited volume?).
Should proposal review count as peer review? Does selected chapter review count as peer review?
Do we need to develop a taxonomy of book publishing practices and parallel advice on publishing ethics in books?
Where do we go from here?
Key differences between books and journals
Some key differences between books and journals, and sample cases to consider in the discussion:
Our thanks to Jennifer Wright of Cambridge University Press, Tamara Welscott of Springer Nature and Tim Wakeford of Ubiquity Press who have shared discussion points, comparisons, and cases to initiate this discussion.
Register for the Forum
Following the discussion around book publishing, COPE members' publication ethics cases will be presented for discussion and advice from the Forum participants.