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Publishing Academic Research

This guide provides information about strategic publishing, publishing agreements, Open Access and ERA specifications.

Checklist for assessing a book publisher

Criteria to examine when selecting a book publisher are:

  • Will publishing with this publisher enhance your academic career?
  • What are the publisher's copyright requirements - will I retain copyright ownership?
  • What quality control processes does the publisher use - will my work be professionally edited and formatted?
  • Will my work be sent out for review?
  • What is the standing of the editors?
  • How does the publisher distribute the books that it publishes?
  • Does the publisher require a financial commitment to publish my work?
  • Will I receive royalties for the sale of my work?
  • Does the publisher meet the specifications required for ERA?


It is common for JCU employees to receive unsolicited emails from publishers, inviting them to publish their thesis or other research.

Make sure you investigate these publishers before making any commitment. The information on this page and the Understanding Publishers page will help you.

Commercial Publishers

The requirement of commercial publication for ERA is used as a surrogate test of quality, comparable to the peer review requirement for journal articles and conference papers.

A commercial publisher is an entity for which the core business is producing books and distributing them for sale. Commercial publishers take on a financial risk when committing to publish a book. To minimise risk, they have a selection process. Once a manuscript is selected for publication, the publisher provides copy-editing and proof-reading editorial support. Once published, the publisher provides further investment by marketing the book.

Self publishing, vanity presses and companies that specialise in the publication of theses do not have a selection process, provide little or no editorial support or marketing and so do not meet the definition of a commercial publisher under the ERA specifications.

Definition of publishers unlikely to meet ERA criteria

Print-on-demand (POD) publishers use digital technology to print copies of a publication as they are requested. This is a cost-effective alternative because publications may be printed at the point-of-need, dispensing with the expense of warehousing and distribution. POD publishing is used by ERA eligible publishers and non-eligible publishers.

Self-publishing is when the author takes responsibility for publishing their work, independently of an established publisher. The Internet provides self-published authors with the opportunity to publish and promote their work.

Vanity presses usually charge authors a fee for publishing their work.

ERA eligibility - books and book chapters

In choosing where to publish your research as a book or book chapter, be aware that your decision will determine whether the work will be counted for ERA as a Traditional Research Output (TRO).

In order for a book or book chapter to be eligible for ERA (as a Traditional Research Output), it must:

  • meet the definition of research i.e. be substantial, original and scholarly. Textbooks and reference books that target professionals or students and creative works are not usually eligible.
  • be a major work of scholarship
  • must be written entirely by a single author, or by joint authors who share responsibility for the whole book

Books, for both the book and book chapter categories, must:

  • have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
  • be published by a commercial publisher or peer reviewed. An acceptable peer review process is one that involves an impartial and independent assessment or review of the research publication in its entirety before publication by independent, qualified experts before publication.

Types of books that are unlikely to meet the ERA eligibility criteria include:

  • textbooks
  • anthologies
  • edited books
  • revisions or new editions
  • manuals and handbooks
  • theses (PhD, Masters and Honours)

Types of book chapters that are unlikely to meet the ERA eligibility criteria include:

  • chapters in textbooks
  • entries in reference books
  • revisions of chapters in edited books
  • forewords, brief introductions and brief editorials
  • appendices
  • literary or creative pieces such as collections of short stories

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