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Scholarly Communications: Book Publishing

This guide provides useful information on scholarly publishing, such as finding the best journal, author identity, or promoting publications and communications.

Finding the Right Publisher

Choosing the most appropriate publisher for a book you are intending to write is no easy task. Before contacting a specific publisher you should check:

  • Is the publisher well known? What are the experiences of peers with this publisher?
  • Can the intended readership be reached with this publisher? Does the topic of my book fit into the publisher's profile?
  • What are the distribution channels? Is there a promotional or marketing plan?
  • How many copies will be printed initially? Will there be hardback, paperback, e-book versions?
  • What is the copyright situation for the author?

Many institutions and professional societies and associations maintain lists of recommended publishers, such as CERES (Social Sciences and Humanities).

Contacting a Publisher - Book proposals

Before contacting the publisher of your choice, keep in mind that most of them will require some information about the planned book:

  • Short description, including the rational for the book and what is distinctive
  • Detailed outline with chapter headings
  • Material other than text that will appear in the book (images, graphs, supplemental material)
  • Evidence that the book will be unique and fill a gap in the market
  • Intended readership
  • Timeline
  • Approximate number of pages

Edited Books

An edited book is a collection of chapters by different authors brought together by an editor (or editors). These are original scholarly works presenting different viewpoints on a specific topic.

In some disciplines edited books are a very common and an important form of scholarly publishing, sometimes becoming "classic" texts in their area of research.

Until recently contributions to edited books were considered a less visible form of publication as book chapters were not easily discoverable (unlike books or journal articles). This is changing with the creation of the Book Citation Index in Web of Science Core Collection and the inclusion of tens of thousands of edited books in Scopus. Depending on the licensing and copyright agreements, some publishers also allow book chapters to be uploaded to an institutional repository, such as Research Repository UCD, which can greatly enhance their visibility,and potentially, impact.


The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit long (10-digits before 2007) unique number that helps to quickly identify books in databases, catalogues or other media. Every book publication gets an ISBN assigned by an authorised entity. It is usually the publisher that assigns ISBNs to their books.

Where a book is published by an organisation (such as a university, or an individual school) ISBNs can be issued by an authorised unit. UCD Library does this for books, conference proceedings, reports etc. that are published by University College Dublin.

If you want to apply for an ISBN fill in the ISBN Request Form. For more information visit our ISBN webpage.

Self-publishing Options

Self-published books are generally less well-regarded than those edited and published by commercial publishers but they can be a useful way of raising your profile or visibility, and also of making content or information openly accessible to a broader audience, such as guidelines or lecture notes. There are various platforms available for authors to self-publish and distribute content including iBooks (iTunes), Amazon Kindle and Scribd.

As the author of a work you are the copyright holder. If you wish to allow others to use and/or adapt your content, you can publish your material with a creative commons licence which allows others to reuse it (with appropriate attribution). More information on Creative Commons is available through the links below: