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Choosing an Academic Publisher: Guide

Choosing a Publisher for Your Work

Choosing a publisher is really important! You want a publisher who will distribute your work to a wide audience while also lending you some extra credibility. 

You may have heard that there are low-quality and even deceptive publishers out there, so what criteria should you apply?

Good Advice

Things to Consider

What should you consider when choosing a publisher?


Of course, you want a publisher who is interested in the kinds of things you write, and has an audience who is also interested in your work.  Some publishers have a a broader scope than others; for this kind of decision, it is probably useful to think about whether you are writing for a broad audience or a narrow one.

Many authors find publishers by combing through their own bibliographies; this helps to identify relevant journals or book publishers. 

Otherwise, journals usually have a note on their website describing the scope of their interest. Book publishers may not have such a note, but they provide a proposal process. 


The reputation of a journal or a publisher is really important, because it affects the credibility of your work in the eyes of your readers and the committees who make decisions about promotion and tenure. 

There have been many attempts to measure journals' reputations quantitatively. The most well known is impact factor, which is based on the number of citations a journal receives. There are many problems with using impact factor as a measure of journal quality: it isn't comparable across fields, it considers only the journal as a whole and not the articles as individual works, it isn't transparent, and it is often misused. However, we do provide access to impact factor data

Author's Rights

Consider what rights you will retain to your own work. Some publishers insist on a copyright transfer, while others allow authors to retain copyright. Check to see whether you will have right to post your work in a repository or republish it elsewhere. Please note that in some cases, it's possible to negotiate for a contract that secures more rights for the author.  Please see my guide on author's rights

Editorial Policy

Check to see whether a journal employs peer review, and further, what kind of review process they use. Transparency is important; you should also think about what kind of peer review you want. 


A journal may have a large or small readership,but many readers of your article are likely not to be the regular readers of the journal.  How do you make sure that you reach the largest audience you can?

INDEXING -- check where your journal is indexed. You want a journal that people can find in database searches.

OPEN ACCESS -- Open access journals (and books) have a very large potential readership, because they are available on the web to anyone who wants to read them. 

AUTHOR'S RIGHTS -- It's a good idea to make sure that you retain the right to archive your work online. If you retain these rights, you can post your work in CUNY Academic Works or an appropriate disciplinary repository. Repositories get a lot of readers who are searching through Google and GoogleScholar. 

Humanities Librarian