Lengthy time-to-publication and high costs for content access may have some researchers looking more closely at quicker publishing options outside of the traditional approach, such as Open Access publications, digital repositories, “pay to play” pubs, pre-print servers, hybrid journals, etc. But the value a traditional publisher brings to the process should not be overlooked. Here are five compelling considerations:
- Publishers handle all the workflow involved in publishing, from author contracts and submission processing to peer review and editing, layout, and distribution. A lot of work goes into taking a raw article from submission to print, and this is where a reputable publisher is worth its weight in gold. A reputable publisher maintains a good reputation, which attracts quality research and writers. They do the initial evaluation of submissions and handle author contracts and correspondence. Publishers handle the production workflows and — when advantageous — outsource the editing and layout tasks to experienced professionals, which is one way even smaller publishers can provide high-quality services without internal capabilities.
- Publishers ensure the credibility and accuracy of research through a rugged peer review process. Publishers recruit and maintain a stable of high-quality peer reviewers and facilitate the intensive and thorough peer review process. The reviewers need to be solicited, trained, encouraged, and supervised for proper review techniques. Depending on the peer review model chosen, identities of the researchers and reviewers must be kept private, and differences between reviewers must be assessed and solved.
- Publishers own the “prestige” of their journals. They establish and maintain a brand that differentiates their content and helps set it apart from similar journals, including predatory journals trying to take advantage of their reputation. Publishers are also responsible for filing trademarks and handling all licensing and copyright issues.
- Publishers help ensure that researchers comply with changing funder and institutional access policies. Organizations that fund research and its publication often have strict guidelines for conducting research and making it accessible. Publishers monitor these policies and make sure their authors comply. To that end, publishers established and continue to maintain CHORUS, which houses compliance information on U.S. funding agencies.
- Publishers improve the discoverability of scientific research. The goal of academic publishing is to facilitate the advancement of scientific research and knowledge. But research cannot spread if it’s not easily found. Publishers’ marketing and communications teams are experienced in search engine optimization best practices and stay on top of Google’s constantly changing search algorithms. They adeptly handle media and PR coverage, as well as promote content via their social channels, along with any number of activities to ensure visibility to their important information.
Because publishers handle all these tasks (and many more) seamlessly in the background, and do it very well, researchers/writers are often not aware of everything publishers do to get their research published, ensuring the impact and clout that their vital research deserves. The role of traditional publishing is truly an essential one in maintaining the integrity of research..