Commissioned Reports

Why Books are Important in the Scholarly Communication System in Social Sciences and Humanities



Books are relevant outputs in research in Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and need to be considered properly in research evaluation. Books are different from journals and the scholarly book publishing sector remains quite unknown within evaluation agencies. This paper describes the state of the scholarly publishing sector, beyond the large publishing groups and imprints, focusing the attention to the role of small- and medium-sized scholarly publishers at the national level. Bibliodiversity and multilingualism are essential values for representing plural and diverse SSH research. They are also linked to societal impact. Academic Book Publishers project and Helsinki Initiative are described to this regard. Finally, some remarks and recommendations for addressing the assessment of books are provided.

Policy Highlights

Since monographs and edited books are essential communication media in Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), they should be considered properly in research evaluation processes. Books are not outputs of second level in SSH research.

  • Books are different from journals, which means that specific knowledge on the book publishing ecosystem and editorial practices is needed for addressing their evaluation. In this sense, it is important:
    • Establishing stronger connections between the associations of scholarly publishers and research evaluation agencies.
    • Boosting research on national academic book publishing landscapes.
  • SSH research may be locally oriented and therefore published in national languages through national journals and publishers. Academic books should be evaluated considering this relevant feature of SSH research. It entails:
    • Using complete publication data sources that reflect the diversity of scholarly publishers contributing to the dissemination of high quality research in SSH.
    • Acknowledging the role of the small- and medium-sized, professional scholarly publishers which in each country take care of the publication of rigorous scholarly contents, closer related to local topics and written in national languages. Their role is complementary to that of the large imprints and publishing groups.
    • Giving an adequate value to channels that allow for generating societal impact, especially to scholarly books (by local, regional and national publishers).
  • Indicators can be used properly only if they take into account the diversity of scholarly publishers and the characteristics of the publishing landscape.


Research EvaluationHumanities and Social SciencesAcademic booksBibliodiversityAcademic book marketPublishers taxonomy
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 6
  • DOI: 10.29024/sar.14
  • Submitted on 16 Mar 2020
  • Accepted on 23 May 2020
  • Published on 25 Jun 2020
  • Peer Reviewed