What’s so bad about book chapters? Nothing, really.

This is a semi-personal, semi-professional post from one of our editors:

I keep hearing warnings about how book-chapters are bad for your research career. Well, our current publishing and peer-review system makes so little logical sense that I’m not inclined to be complicit with it. I love reading edited collections because they present multiple facets of a topic in a thoughtfully curated context. I may not read all ten chapters from a collection, but if there are one or two useful ones, I tend to look through the others as well.


I’ve heard concerns about access and quality, which are apparently better for journal articles and worse for chapters, and which apparently underpin the the REF. But these make little sense. Most edited books are now available online, like journal articles, and the names of book editors are public, I see no reason why they should be regarded as inferior to journals. Journals are inaccessible without a subscription anyway, so researchers not attached to universities, and the general public, have a bigger chance to read something on google books (many edited books end up there) than in a journal article. Besides, I put my (decent) stuff out for everyone to read anyway – and hopefully there will be an ArXiV (https://arxiv.org/) for social sciences at some point soon. So, doomsters and edited-book-haters, your advice falls on deaf ears. I’m writing three book chapters at the moment. At least my stuff will be in good company of related themes and I’ll enjoy my own work. If some university doesn’t want me because my texts are printed between the wrong covers, that’s just as silly as judging an academic by their gender or by their clothes, and it is their problem, not mine.
Yours, Idle Ethnographer


Categories: Accelerated Academy, Higher Education, Outflanking Platitudes, The Idle Ethnographer

1 reply »

  1. Yes, totally agree! Thanks. This is the temporary home at least of SocArXiv.org https://osf.io/view/socarxiv/

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