Publication Rules

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Contents

Module Summary

In academia, research and publishing are considered core interests for instructors and others. For many, there is light guidance from research offices and research compliance offices that review research to ensure that they meet ethics guidelines. There may be informal groups of professionals who support each other in terms of publishing. This module engages some basic publication rules (formal and informal)and highlights some of the nuanced decision-making required for effective publishing.

Disclaimer: Note that the information here is presented only as information, not advisement.

Takeaways

Learners will...

  • review considerations for whether a potential author may have sufficient grounds to start a work for publication
  • consider some basic academic publication rules to know and follow (vs. those which may be less critical)
  • list the legal responsibilities that authors have for publishing
  • consider crediting and self-representation issues in academic publishing
  • articulate why it is important to have an accurate listing of published works

Module Pretest

1. How does a potential author know if he or she is on to a promising idea that may be sufficiently original and relevant to pursue writing? How does a potential author know if he or she has sufficient knowledge and drive to complete a publishable work?

2. What are some basic academic publication rules to know and follow? Which are some common publication rules to ignore? What standards should be used about which rules to follow and which rules to ignore?

3. How much due diligence do authors have for fact-checking? For chasing copyright releases? For documenting copyright releases? For attaining rights releases to use research data that belongs to someone else? To go through institutional review board (IRB) approvals for human subjects research? Is it enough just to credit other authors for their imagery, or do rights have to be acquired? Are rights releases required when using photos of others taken in public places? Why are authors asked to indemnify publishers in their contracts? Why is it important to assume that a publication is international the moment it is published?

4. How should author names be represented? Why should these be disambiguated? What sorts of information go into an author professional biography? What sort of contact information should be offered in a professional author biography? Why? How should co-author names be represented, and why? How should credit be handled for a publication? What happens to authors who signed on to a project but never actually followed through with any work? Should an author engage in self-citation?

5. Why is it important to maintain a full and accurate listing of prior publications (such as in a curriculum vitae or “CV”)? How can a full CV be useful in the future?


Main Contents

1. How does a potential author know if he or she is on to a promising idea that may be sufficiently original and relevant to pursue writing? How does a potential author know if he or she has sufficient knowledge and drive to complete a publishable work?

For authors to know whether a particular inspiration for research has traction depends a lot on the environment and what other published works exist in that area and what others are researching in that area. The author has to have sufficient knowledge, research skills, data analytics skills, to carry the project to fruition. Their knowledge and skills will determine whether they have standing to address an issue.

New authors may not yet know what their own capabilities are or what they are willing to invest in a work to ensure that it is successfully achieved. They have to be able to meet deadlines. They have to be able to engage the digital space in terms of creating quality work and submitting their work through web-facing systems (more often than not). The only way to know what people are capable of is to put them to the test…and those who engage in research need to be able to test their mettle.

The important point here is that authors have to be able to put together a work that stands up to scrutiny and adds value to the field.


2. What are some basic academic publication rules to know and follow? Which are some common publication rules to ignore? What standards should be used about which rules to follow and which rules to ignore?

Some basic academic publication rules to adhere to include the following:

  • Read and research broadly whenever engaging an issue. It is hard to know what may be relevant. It is better to read broadly but cite in a limited way (only as needed). This way, the writing will be imbued with awareness even if the writing does not pull in excessive source citations. (Be aware of the various influences in a work. You don’t want to accidentally plagiarize by not being aware of where a work’s influences are from.)
  • Go legal at every step. Respect intellectual property. Make sure to have legal access to data before using the data. Ensure that human subjects review is properly conducted for the research (as relevant). Provide informed consent to participants in the research. Acquire all rights releases for the work. (Use commercial standards.)
  • Be as accurate as possible in representing facts. Make sure that data visualizations are as clear as possible.
  • Give credit where it’s due. Cite sources accurately. Do not cite unless you’ve actually read the original work, preferably cover to cover.
  • Avoid competing interests when writing. If there are competing interests, work to avoid any real conflicts of interest, and work to avoid even the appearance of any conflicts of interest. Acknowledge any conflicts, if they do exist.
  • Do not submit a manuscript to multiple publishers simultaneously. Most publishers have a “no multiple submissions” policy because they each invest time and effort in evaluating manuscripts. They do not want to accept a work or conditionally accept a work only to have it published elsewhere. (To hold up their end of the responsibility, publishers should have manuscripts reviewed fairly expeditiously…usually no taking more than a month or two months…)
  • Use figures and imagery as are relevant. Use sufficient captioning and labeling. Begin drawings from a blank slate, so as not to accidentally use others’ visual ideas.
  • Do not version works too closely. If there is a lot of repetition of data and insights, those are important indicators that there may be too much overlap.
  • If a work has been published online, do not keep revising a work once it has appeared. Or if changes are made, be sure to note the reason for the change (usually a correction), and be careful not to misrepresent the work.
  • Read the publisher’s contract closely, and do not sign it if there is any part of it that is not fair or is inappropriate. Once rights are signed over, the publisher will generally own all rights to the work. The author should not then send out copyrighted copies of the work to others or distribute these over research-sharing sites for source citations (because they are then breaking the terms of the copyright contract).
  • Keep the peer review as fair as possible. The process should be respectful. People’s works should be handled professionally, and people’s identities should not be leaked (in single-blind, double-blind, and other types of peer reviews). Sometimes, reviewers will try to move a work from one project to another that they are part of, and that is unethical behavior.
  • Earn a reputation, and do not pay companies for “impression management.”

Some basic academic publication rules to ignore include the following:

  • Some suggest that if there are others researching the same topic that one should not continue research…or that one should not pursue publishing, and that seems like a self-defeating approach. Even if teams are studying a shared issue, it is not likely that they will have the same insights or the same methods. If a researcher or research team has something of value to share, they should absolutely pursue the work.
  • Paying thousands of dollars to ensure that a work is “open-access” seems like a “dominated strategy” (to use a term from game theory) or a losing strategy. The amounts that many mainstream publishers are asking for “open-access” seem outsized. Many reputable publishers do not request any funds…and still enable some open-access.

The standards most commonly used about which rules to abide by vs. those not to depends on a few aspects. Standards that are about being law-abiding and ethical should be followed. The rules that may be bent are more peripheral ones and about superficial social niceties. The idea of not publishing a work if others are engaging the issue is more about faux politeness than anything substantive, for example. Academic research is more of a “big tent” than some may assume.


3. How much due diligence do authors have for fact-checking? For chasing copyright releases? For documenting copyright releases? For attaining rights releases to use research data that belongs to someone else? To go through institutional review board (IRB) approvals for human subjects research? Is it enough just to credit other authors for their imagery, or do rights have to be acquired? Are rights releases required when using photos of others taken in public places? Why are authors asked to indemnify publishers in their contracts? Why is it important to assume that a publication is international the moment it is published?

In terms of legal responsibilities, authors have to handle the following:

  • fact-checking (unless they can pay others off of their grants to handle this task)
  • chasing and documenting copyright releases
  • attaining rights releases for research data, personal data, interviews, media captures, and others
  • acquiring institutional review board (IRB) approval
  • and so on

Authors are asked to indemnify publishers in their contracts so that they are aware of legal liabilities with publishing and so they share some of the liability if a legal issue arises.

It is important to assume that a publication is global and international the moment it is published because publishers make their published goods available everywhere… and anything that is published online is by definition global (whether or not the work attracts an international audience or not). This means that the legal rules are often not only national but international. It means that reader sensibilities are not generally “local” but global. Having this extra layer of awareness may head off some legal and cultural liabilities.


4. How should author names be represented? Why should these be disambiguated? What sorts of information go into an author professional biography? What sort of contact information should be offered in a professional author biography? Why? How should co-author names be represented, and why? How should credit be handled for a publication? What happens to authors who signed on to a project but never actually followed through with any work? Should an author engage in self-citation?

Author names should be as disambiguated as possible, and for those with common names, it is a good idea to have a “persistent digital identifier” that makes the individual verifiably and identifiably unique. (There are free reputable services that provide this.)

In professional author biographies, the focus is on formal education, professional work role, work place, and professional interests. Some authors will share some private information to humanize themselves to their readership.

Typical contact information for authors are work places, and occasionally, some share emails, telephone numbers, and sometimes even addresses.

Co-author names should be listed in descending order. The first author is always primary and considered critical to the work. Authors who signed on to a project but did not actually contribute should not be listed as a co-author. Co-authors should actually contribute to a work.

Authors should not generally cite themselves excessively, even if they are building on prior work, unless the citations are to differentiated works with unique insights, and unless the citations are necessary. Authors often work on a particular issue over a number of years, and they may focus heavily and intensively on a particular topic. The risk of excessive self-citing is that that behavior reads like self-promotion. Even more concerning, it may show an author or authoring team focused on one topic to the exclusion of broader work (depth over breadth).


5. Why is it important to maintain a full and accurate listing of prior publications (such as in a curriculum vitae or “CV”)? How can a full CV be useful in the future?

Authors should maintain an accurate and complete record of all their prior publications in a file, such as a formal document like a curriculum vitae or CV, or a spreadsheet with the listings. The listing should include the full and accurate title, the date of publication, the editor, the publisher, and other relevant data. This record will enable accuracy in memory and citations.

Also, all related articles should be kept in their original and pristine format. Published works may be scanned and digitized.

Works that appear on the Web and Internet will be archived through indexers and web scrapers, as well as the publishers themselves. However, if there are questions, it is helpful if the author has some records.

Examples

Virtually all publishers offer some guidelines, sample contracts, writing templates, and other information on their websites.

How To

Each respective author / authoring team will have to decide how to proceed. This resource does have other related contents:

Academic Paper Structures

Academic Peer Review

Academic Writing and Publishing

Publication Metrics

Possible Pitfalls

The “rules” and social norms around academic publishing differ based on the respective domains, and these will certainly evolve over time. This module is offered by one author and one point-of-view during one discrete time frame, so it is important to update knowledge continuously from a number of sources.

Module Post-Test

1. How does a potential author know if he or she is on to a promising idea that may be sufficiently original and relevant to pursue writing? How does a potential author know if he or she has sufficient knowledge and drive to complete a publishable work?

2. What are some basic academic publication rules to know and follow? Which are some common publication rules to ignore? What standards should be used about which rules to follow and which rules to ignore?

3. How much due diligence do authors have for fact-checking? For chasing copyright releases? For documenting copyright releases? For attaining rights releases to use research data that belongs to someone else? To go through institutional review board (IRB) approvals for human subjects research? Is it enough just to credit other authors for their imagery, or do rights have to be acquired? Are rights releases required when using photos of others taken in public places? Why are authors asked to indemnify publishers in their contracts? Why is it important to assume that a publication is international the moment it is published?

4. How should author names be represented? Why should these be disambiguated? What sorts of information go into an author professional biography? What sort of contact information should be offered in a professional author biography? Why? How should co-author names be represented, and why? How should credit be handled for a publication? What happens to authors who signed on to a project but never actually followed through with any work? Should an author engage in self-citation?

5. Why is it important to maintain a full and accurate listing of prior publications (such as in a curriculum vitae or “CV”)? How can a full CV be useful in the future?


References

Extra Resources