The History Of Academic Publishing And Its Future

Whenever we read a book, either in the print or digital format, little do we realize that there is quite a bit of work which goes on behind the scenes. Academic publishing is something which has been around for centuries and put in plain and simple words, it is about printing, digitalizing and then disseminating information to reach the end customers in an easily readable format.

There are different types of publishing materials that one could think of. It could be in the form of a printed or digital book. It could be in the form of a magazine, leaflet, brochure and much more. There are different types of publishing and in this article we will try and restrict ourselves to academic publishers and what their roles and responsibilities are.

What Exactly Is Academic Publishing

When we talk about academic publishing we are referring to that subfield of publishing which takes the responsibility of distributing works of academic research and works pertaining to scholarship.

These works of academics are usually published as thesis and they usually find place in various different types of academic journal. The internet has added a new dimension to academic publishing and we have today what is referred to as grey literature which is available for free on the internet.

They are also referred to educational publishers and their main task is to take works of research and scholarship to the interested customers in an easily readable and understandable format.

The first forms of academic publishing perhaps happened four centuries back and these were time when the authors themselves had to take the trouble of publishing their own work. However, things have changed over the years and today there are publishers who are ready to print these research findings and publications and make them reach thousands of customers.

Therefore, it is a business today and the internet has added a new dimension to it. It would be pertinent to mention that there were times when authors of various technical findings had to disguise themselves as peddlers and used book fairs to sell their work. It is possible for this to happen even today electronically where the name of the author could be kept anonymous.

How Academic Publishing Is Shaping Up Today

It would be pertinent to mention today academic publishing is undergoing many changes. There are opportunities and challenges along the way. The electronic format has brought with it a number of changes to publishing of academic and research works. The business dynamics are also changing with the arrival of the electronic format of publishing.

There is something known as online student publishing which has certainly changed the rules of the game quite significantly. There is also something known as open access publishing where some of the journal and works are research are available for free. While some works are available for free there are others which offer restricted access. The customers have to pay if they want complete and full access to such works.

Opportunities And Crisis

The decades of 1960s and 1970s saw many educational publishing companies being very active. They silently got into the act of acquiring selected and top quality journals which previously were published by non-profit organizations with the objective of service in mind.

Since the markets for these works of research were inelastic in nature, the publishers were able to make big money. However, the irony was that the researchers were not able to get the full value for money for their works. On the other side of the spectrum, the readers or those who were making use of the works of research were made to pay high price for the printed versions.

The crisis occurred when the budgets for publications of research findings were drastically cut. On the other hand since there were many publishing houses ready to make money by taking over these publications, profit was the main driving force.

This made the cost of the publications unaffordable for many customers who were students. This perhaps gave rise to what is referred to as online student publishing over the next three or four decades. Hence there was a perceived situation of crisis both for the research paper writers and the customers as a whole.

Reforms Did Take Place

The crisis which lingered even till the late 1980s resulted in certain reform steps being initiated and this certainly has started yielding results on the ground. There was the increasing need for scientific interaction online and there was a need not to restrict it to traditional journal space. Further steps have been taken to make the entire publication process more transparent and efficient. This certainly has resulted in more effective and smoother dissemination of important and critical findings to the eyes and ears of those who matter the most. Since there was an open and transparent evaluation of these academic publishing on the internet platform, it was easy to separate the grain from the chaff which perhaps was not possible earlier.

Categories Of Academic Works

It would be pertinent to mention here that today academic writing and publishing is a huge business and it encompasses a number of subject matters and topics. It could range from species papers to technical papers, could be focusing on research paper, and it could also be a review of survey paper and much more. It could also cover almost subjects and fields ranging from natural sciences to social sciences. On the other hand of the spectrum there are papers which are related to humanities and political science.

The Growth Of This Segment

The growth of academic publications has been quite encouraging especially in the developing countries as new advances in science and technology is taking place at a rapid pace. It is surprising to note that countries like Turkey, China, Oman, Republic Of Korea and various other countries have made their presence felt strongly in the field of academic research paper and publications. By comparison as far as G8 countries are concerned, only Italy features in the list and to a certain extant Canada is also actively present.


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