Integrity in Academic Book Publishing - A Publisher's Initiative | Academic Book Week

To start off Academic Book Week, Rhiannon from the Temps desk attended the Integrity in Academic Book Publishing event at Springer Nature, which provided a fantastic insight into all the elements to consider when publishing academic books and journals.

Niels Peter Thomas, Managing Director Books at Springer Nature opened, and highlighted some of the key values Springer Nature practices when publishing academic texts. These included innovation, investment, tradition, community, diversity and quality retained in the over 13,000 books they publish each year. Flowing throughout all of this integrity.

Suzanne Farley, Research Integrity Director at Springer Nature was then introduced; Suzanne works on the Central Advisory Body for Books and Journals, covering all research areas with the overarching aim of maintaining integrity in scholarly research; so that it is conducted in a way that the method and output is trusted by consumers. Suzanne and her team investigate incidents and empower staff to deal with cases themselves, providing resources such as a flow chart for best practice. This is for in house staff and external editors. There has been a rise in cases recently, which may be due to an increased awareness of reporting. To report is so important though as if the research cannot be relied on it is a waste of time for the editors and peer-reviewers, and for any further research based on it.

Lastly we heard from Tamara Welschot, Head of Advisory and Assurance at Springer Nature. Tamara was questioning whether we need a code of conduct for book publishing, as there seems to be more guidelines for journals than books. One of the most obvious areas that kept coming up is plagiarism; when work is being reanalysed with further contributions, when does one become an author, or will the work always remain the property of the original author; how much research needs to be done to check that work is original? Reading other work will of course shape current work, and it is advised to take full notes and acknowledge previous work. There could also be a conflict of interest if there are undisclosed monetary incentives, such as having shares in an area being researched.

The value of plagiarism software was then discussed; it can create inaccurate results when the areas it is highlighting are simply references, but it is also an efficient tool to quickly ensure nothing has been reproduced. It shows the importance of retaining the human element, of cross checking the highlighted areas. Plagiarism of ideas was also raised but this is tougher to police with less tangible evidence. It can also be difficult when smaller publishers don’t have dedicated teams to look into this as it is a fairly labour intensive process, and authors can be unsure whether they need alert their own publisher or the publisher in question. Overall the aim is to correct scholarly publishing rather than reprimanding; to ensure the best quality content is being published with integrity.