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Guideline 15

Publication medium

Authors select the publication medium carefully, with due regard for its quality and visibility in the relevant field of discourse. Researchers who assume the role of editor carefully select where they will carry out this activity. The scientific/academic quality of a contribution does not depend on the medium in which it is published.


In addition to publication in books and journals, authors may also consider academic repositories, data and software repositories, and blogs. A new or unknown publication medium is evaluated to assess its seriousness.

A key criterion to selecting a publication medium is whether it has established guidelines on good research practice.

Diverse (digital) publication options in the humanities and social sciences

In the humanities and social sciences, a variety of formats and media are suitable for publishing research findings. These include text publications in the form of monographs, journal and anthology volumes as well as exhibition catalogues, blog posts, podcasts, dictionaries, press articles, data sets and software codes. Book publications also continue to play an important role. In the humanities and cultural studies especially, publication practices are currently undergoing a transformation. It is becoming increasingly important to open up the discussion of research findings at an early stage; preprint servers such as Zenodo and SSOAR are being used more and more for this purpose. Due to the highly dynamic nature of digital publishing outlets, there is a particular responsibility to thoroughly check the reputability of media and platforms. In the case of publications, it is important to check on an individual basis which medium is most suitable. Within the humanities and social sciences, some subjects are more essay-oriented, while others more monograph-oriented. Hybrid forms of publication are also possible, for example in order to meaningfully break down the publication process into a sequence of stages, or to supplement content in an appropriate manner.

The various publication media involve different quality assurance procedures: this should be taken into account when choosing the medium and evaluating academic performance. Monographs and journal or anthology volumes usually undergo a peer review process or editorial review before publication. Quality assurance in connection with other media and formats such as blogs, datasets and software takes place prior to publication in some cases, but sometimes it does not happen until after publication in the form of discussion within communities. In principle, citability should be ensured by means of persistent identifiers, e.g. DOIs; this equally applies to podcasts and blogs.

The dynamic development of publication processes means that there is a wide range of options for publishing research results digitally. In the case of research results that are published in hybrid form or through digital channels only, such as scientific editions, articles in certain journals, databases or computer-based tools, the conditions of access and long-term archiving offered by the medium in question will be a key factor when making a choice. Even before publication, it is advisable to clarify how the maintenance required for long-term availability and permanent access to the results or data will be guaranteed by the publication medium. Here, care must be taken to ensure that the results can be accessed free of charge if possible. When choosing the appropriate medium, it is worth bearing in mind that well-reputed publication platforms exist while others are still in the process of establishing themselves. Repositories such as SSOAR, Zenodo or GitHub already have recognised standards that often differ significantly from those of commercial publishers.

In the case of data publications, currently applicable data protection and copyright regulations must also be observed, especially in connection with international research collaborations.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL15 (Humanities and social sciences)