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Scholarly Books and Their Evaluation Context in the Social Sciences and Humanities

This special issue, to be published in 2018, is guest edited by Alesia Zuccala (University of Copenhagen, Denmark); Ginevra Peruginelli (ITTIG - Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques - National Research Council, Italy); Elea Giménez Toledo (CSIC-Spanish National Research Council, Spain).

Schedule of dates and submission deadlines

Paper submission: May 18, 2018
Notice of review results: July 20, 2018
Revisions due: August 24, 2018
Aslib Journal of Information Management, volume 70, issue 6, 2018

What is the focus of this special issue?

The book has always been a key scholarly communication channel across the Social Sciences and Humanities.  Modern studies in these fields are generally organized according to a range of theoretical, historical and normative disciplines, including economic theory, sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, social psychology, theology, literary criticism and law.  However, for decades, most scholarly books produced from these disciplines have been relegated to a peripheral, if not absent role in evaluation studies and procedures.  It is only recently that positive changes are beginning to take effect.  

2011 marks the year when Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomsen Reuters) officially announced its intention of "putting books back into the library" with the new Book Citation Index.  This index, in addition to the Scopus index of books was originally seen as a new and improved opportunity to focus on the 'biblio' in bibliometrics.   Exploratory research using both commercial databases, and other well-known book databases or indexes (e.g., Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon, Goodreads, the WorldCat Union Catalog and ISBN databases) has thus been instrumental in highlighting the substantial value of books.  Nevertheless, the 'value' of a book still tends to be inextricably linked to the prestige of a certain publisher as well as trends/changes within the publishing industry (e.g. open access; electronic publishing).   Peer review is also fundamental to the assessment of a book's quality, and in some countries it is used almost exclusively as an evaluation tool.  In light of this, bibliometrics could be one of the approaches used to counteract peer review's subjective and arbitrary aspects (e.g., bias or academic malpractice).

In recent years we have seen an increase in research activity surrounding the book -- i.e., edited books, chapters, monographs, textbooks.  Some of this new work is now connected to national book repositories in addition to commercial indexes, yet much of what we see in the literature points to issues concerning the fullness of data and/or metadata accuracy.  It is a good time therefore to produce a special issue pertaining to scholarly books, whereby original datasets, methods, and measures might be used to push boundaries and generate new insights applicable to research and education policy.

Potential topics under study include but are not limited to:

  • Conceptualizations and definitions of the academic book; including “genres” considered in research assessments and differences between disciplines
  • The role of monograph authors and the author's original interpretation as purveyor of new knowledge
  • National registries of books and performance-based evaluation systems
  • Books and 'altmetrics' or alternative indicators of influence/impact/public visibility
  • Library holding counts and the perceived cultural benefit of books
  • The Academic publishing industry, including national and international markets, and connecting data from the publishing industry with research evaluation
  • The funding of academic publishing and its influence on quality
  • Publisher prestige and/or specialization
  • The commercial versus university press
  • Publisher rankings
  • Scholarly reputation of books in the digital age and the role of emerging platforms and mechanisms (e.g., e-books and new forms of electronic publishing).
  • Publication language - i.e., original language and translated books, and evaluation pressures towards internationalization
  • Commercial citation indices for books (i.e., Scopus; Book Citation Index)
  • The use of Google Scholar/Google Books for evaluating monographs
  • Bibliographic metadata and the classification of books for evaluation
  • The evaluative role of scholarly book reviews and book reviews in social media
  • Peer review standards and processes for monographs; edited books
  • Peer review labels for books
  • Open Access monographs; textbooks; edited books


Papers should focus on books published for the Social Sciences and Humanities, both in terms of their scholarly role and role as change agents in society, and consider their treatment as study objects in national and/or international research evaluation contexts.   All methodological approaches are welcome. Case studies and proof-of-concept studies should present new and unique findings and highlight future research possibilities and developments. Opinion pieces will not be considered for the special issue.

Papers should be 4,000 to 9,000 words in length (including references) and in accordance with the journal’s author guidelines.

Submissions to Aslib Journal of Information Management are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available here. Full information and guidance on using ScholarOne Manuscripts is available at the Emerald ScholarOne Manuscripts Support Centre.

For all additional information prior to submission, please contact Alesia Zuccala (a.zuccala@hum.ku.dk).

About the Journal

Aslib Journal of Information Management (AJIM; previously: Aslib Proceedings, ISSN: 2050-3806) is a peer-reviewed international journal providing key insights into the latest international developments in the research and practice of information management and information science.