Prestige of scholarly book publishers: an investigation into criteria, processes, and practices across countries | Eleonora Dagiene's preprint on Arxiv
flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2020-08-15
Preprint, author: Eleonora Dagiene
Numerous national research assessment policies set the goal of promoting "excellence" and incentivise scholars to publish their research in the most prestigious journals or with the most prestigious book publishers. We investigate the practicalities of the assessment of book outputs based on the prestige of book publishers (Denmark, Finland, Flanders, Lithuania, Norway). Additionally, we test whether such assessments are transparent and yield consistent results. We show inconsistencies in the assessment of publishers, such as the same publisher being ranked as prestigious and not so prestigious in different countries or in different years in the same country. Likewise, we find that verification of compliance with the mandatory prerequisites is not always possible because of the lack of transparency. Our findings raise doubts about whether the assessment of books based on a judgement about their publisher yields acceptable outcomes. Currently used rankings of publishers focus on evaluating the gatekeeping role of publishers but do not assess their dissemination role. Our suggestion for future research is to develop approaches for assessing books which consider both quality control and the distribution of books (and their metadata) as measured by the importance of communication between researchers. That means that publishers should be transparent about the services they deliver in both areas, preferably at the level of individual books, so that there is no need to rely on general information about publishers.