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A look at the process of submitting manuscripts and publishing Open Access books

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Open Access is entering steadily into the Humanities and Social Sciences, and is now considered as an alternative to the traditional way of publishing monographs and scientific books. If you are considering of publishing your monograph in an open access model, there are usually two paths to choose from: One – you can publish in Green OA, which means adding the already published book to a specially prepared repository (self-archiving); two – you can choose the Gold OA model and submit your manuscript to an OA publisher, where it will be corrected, peer-reviewed then published. At this point I would like to briefly describe the process of submitting manuscripts to OA publishers for those who are thinking of that option specifically. It is a general description, and various steps may differ depending on the publisher.

Step 1: Author submits the draft material

After submitting the draft version of the book, the Managing Editor (ME) checks if it fits within the scope of the subject. If it does, the ME preliminarily accepts the draft, the author is informed of the ME’s decision and the draft material is sent to review.

Step 2: Peer-review

Usually the draft material is sent to two or three reviewers; however there are different levels of peer-review. The most common one is single-blind review. The draft is evaluated by two reviewers and in case of disagreement, the manuscript is sent to a third reviewer. The waiting period for review may vary between publishers, but it is usually from three to eight weeks, though sometimes more.

Step 3: Back to the Managing Editor

Having completed their assessments, the reviewers return the material with a list of comments to the Managing Editor. The ME may decide to ask the author to make minor or major changes. After that, the manuscript is sent back to the author who has around two to three weeks to make the changes. Authors usually list their answers in direct response to reviewers’ comments.

Step 4: Author returns the draft material with corrections

At this point, the Managing Editor decides whether the draft material will be accepted for publication or not. Usually, in the case of minor changes, the ME checks the corrected draft (may ask the authors for clarification) and then decides. For major changes, the corrected version of the draft manuscript is sent for reviewers’ approval and the reviewers decide. Generally the material is corrected until the author and Managing Editor/reviewers agree on the final version.

Step 5: Manuscript development

The Managing Editor stays in regular contact with the author, asking for updates on his/her progress, and to remind him/her of the necessity to deliver the manuscript on the agreed date, to write to the contracted length, and to follow closely the guidelines on preparing the text, illustrations and index. This can take some time, from 6 months to – in some instances, three years.

Step 6: Delivery of manuscript

After the author delivers the manuscript, the Managing Editor sends it to the reviewers for final review. Authors have about one month to make all necessary corrections. At this stage the manuscript is also sent for language editing. Once the ME, Language Editor and author agree on the final version of the manuscript it is sent to production, where technical editing takes place.  The production department usually prepares two galley proofs, but the second proof is only checked by the ME and at this stage no major changes can be introduced. At the end of the process, the ME re-checks the text and accepts all corrections. The book may go to final publication, which means preparing the final version of the book for publication.

The entire process of submitting a monograph to an OA publisher can take a long time, sometimes even years. Of course, somewhere along the line the issue of formal agreements and contracts is raised. The conditions for publishing a book in a particular publishing house depend on the agreement between the author and the publisher, and vary across publishing houses.

The above-mentioned steps of submitting a monograph to an OA publisher are only a brief outline, and the process may vary at different points depending on the publisher. However, this process should follow, in general, more or less the same path. It is also worth noting that the submission of manuscripts of monographs to OA publishers is no different to that of ‘normal’, ‘traditional’ publishing house.

When choosing an OA publisher, it is always worth keeping in mind that all of the above-mentioned steps, in one form or another, should be ensured and carried out. Peer-review, professional proofreading and the production system are all signs of the publisher’s credibility.

You should also pay attention to the forms of promotion offered by the publisher. Promoting books is significantly different from the promotion of scientific articles. A good publisher should offer a package containing tools for promotion and undertake specific promotional campaigns on behalf of the author.

Open Access is slowly gaining popularity among HSS authors. Although, it is not as common as in the case of other scientific disciplines, it may still yield similar positive results.

Read about benefits of publishing in Open Access model:

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