Where to publish and things to consider

Publishing with existing publishers

Type of publication

If you are submitting a conference paper or a chapter in a book you probably do not have a choice of the publisher, however there are things to consider.

Where to publish

Unsolicited offers to publish

The University of Sydney recognises the importance of publishing research findings and the pressure on researchers to do so. However the Library wishes to advise the researchers of the University to take care if they are approached with an unsolicited offer to publish their research or thesis.

Any unsolicited approach by a publisher should be taken with caution. If you are approached and in doubt, talk with your supervisor, colleagues, the Research Portfolio or the Library.

When considering taking up an offer to publish from an unsolicited approach consider the following:

  • Loss of rights. As an author you need to be careful that you do not sign your rights away with a publisher with a poor academic publishing reputation only to find that you no longer have rights to your hard work, especially if that publication is not truly show casing the quality of your research.
  • Loss of reputation. A reputation for publishing in quality publications is as important to a researcher as any remuneration through royalties. Many of the publishers that acquire work through unsolicited means in general do not have robust academic publishing procedures in place.
  • Waste or effort. With little or no peer review or editing a work may not be eligible for HERDC or ERA. Your publishing efforts may have been wasted and with your rights taken away you may have lost control of your work leaving you with little opportunity to republish.
What to look out for:
  • Unsolicited emails from a publisher you have not heard of or have had no contact with.
  • Publishers that do not have a good or any academic reputation. It is a good idea to contact the Research Portfolio to see if the publisher and its publications are eligible for inclusion in HERDC and ERA. This will be a good gauge.
  • No peer review process or editorial work flow. Any reputable academic publisher will have in place a peer review process and editorial workflow. This ensures that the work is of a robust academic standard and can thus be included for HERDC and potentially ERA.

Tips for PhD and Masters (Research) students. If you have any questions about such an offer to publish contact your Faculty Liaison Librarian.

Publishing for impact

HERDC stands for the Higher Education Research Collection. The Research Office collects University research publication and income data annually. This data is used by the government to determine how much funding the University will receive. See how the University uses your research output for more information.

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) is an assessment system that evaluates the quality of the research conducted at Australian universities. The ERA methodology is a dynamic and flexible research assessment system that combines the objectivity of multiple quantitative indicators with the holistic assessment provided by expert review. ERA outcomes inform the performance-based block funding that universities receive from Government to sustain excellence in research. The University of Sydney takes part in ERA by submitting a report annually. For more information visit the ARC's ERA frequently asked questions page.

Impact Factors
Journal impact factors measure the importance or influence of a journal.

Citation counts and impact factors
Because citation patterns vary in different disciplines, journal impact factors should not be compared across subject areas. For example, a good impact factor in Biology may be 12, whereas in Acoustics it may be closer to 3. Current impact factors can be obtained from the Journal Citation Reports database.

Why choose high impact journals?
Choosing high impact journals to publish in can increase your citation count because more people are likely to read and cite articles published in these journals. This in turn will increase the impact factor of the journal further. A higher citation count will mean a higher h-index.

H-Index measures the influence and productivity of an individual researchers overall performance.

Example of h=index calculation.

Faculty Liaison Librarians


Books must be published with a commercial publisher to be eligible for inclusion in HERDC.

For a full list of requirements for HERDC inclusion see Book - Authored Research criteria.

If not sure about the publisher's ability to meet these criteria use the Research Portfolio's Publisher letter template (DOC) to find out.

To learn more about the process of academic publishing you may wish to attend Writing the Academic Book: From proposal to publication run by the Learning Centre.

Note: There are numerous commercial publisher models available including Sydney University Press. The most important thing to take into consideration is that the work meets the HERDC criteria set out so that you get maximum impact and exposure for your research.

Book chapter

If you are contributing a chapter to a publication you might not have control over who you publish with. However you still need to consider the HERDC qualification of the publication as well as the impact of the publication.


The essential aspect is that work goes through an approved peer review process. The essential criteria for an article is that it meets the HERDC criteria.

If not sure about the publisher's ability to meet these criteria use the journal peer review letter template (DOC) to find out.

Open Access journals

Some journals or journal collections are made freely available on the web by the publisher, but charge authors a fee to publish.

Some of these journals can have broad readerships because they are of a high standard and also open access. This can result in high impact factors within their fields so are an attractive alternative to more traditional models.

Other open access journals do not charge a fee to publish or to view. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) contains more than 5000 free and pay-to-publish open access journals to choose from.

Some publishers offer a service whereby for an extra fee an author can make their work available on open access. It is the view of the University of Sydney Library that an author should not have to pay to make a work available on Open Access. This is best handled through the licence process. See Publishing Contract/Agreement in the Copyright section.

Make sure that whichever journal you choose – open access or otherwise – it meets the HERDC criteria for inclusion.

Conference paper

As with a book chapter, a paper submitted to a conference still needs to meet certain criteria for it to be counted toward HERDC and maximise impact.

One thing you may wish to consider is the alibility to make your work available on open access at some stage if it is not already. Making your work freely accessible on the web will increase your readership and so help to maximise impact.

If you want to reserve the right to make my work available on open access make sure your publishing contract does not contain clauses that limit your ability to do so. It is important that you consider the long-term impact of your work and IP.