Writing an academic book chapter

Writing an academic book chapter

In a previous article entitled Publishing your first academic book, we advised early-career researchers to start publishing articles in reputable journals as a way to get experience and build up a career as academic authors. Open-access journals are particularly helpful because they are not behind a paywall and can reach a wider audience.

Progressing from publishing articles in journals to writing a full-length book might feel daunting, so writing an academic book chapter is a good step to boost your confidence.

An academic book chapter is a section or division of a book focused on a research theme. It is an expert compilation that provides a balanced view and a perspective on research that is usually scattered in journals and other publications. A book chapter is more broadly focused than a journal article and often has a greater educational value as book chapters often appear in the reading lists of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

You can find calls for chapter proposals online. However, in many cases a researcher is commissioned by an editor or by a publisher. This is why it’s important to build your contacts by attending conferences and networking with research groups in your field. The commissioned book chapter can have an open or paid access, depending on the publisher’s or funding’s requirements.

Typically, a chapter is commissioned with a due date of six, nine or 12 months. Once the content is agreed, it is best to keep working on it on a regular basis because writing skills are perfected with continuous practice. It is also important to keep reading articles in the field, to keep abreast of new developments and update your reference list with new contributions.

It is important to write in a clear language, avoiding jargon and explaining concepts clearly so your work is easy to understand, especially if the book is aimed at students. If possible, get support and feedback from senior academics. They will be able to advise on how you present your arguments and indicate any gaps or references you should include.

Advantages of publishing an academic book chapter

Publishing a book chapter can help you to be considered as a credible author and expert in your field. There are also other advantages:

  • Academics often read chapter books to keep up to date and for teaching purposes, which means your work might be cited in essays and dissertations.
  • A chapter in a good, edited collection indicates to an employment panel or a publisher that your work has been sought by senior academics and that you have the potential to author a book.
  • You can use a book chapter to expand on a topic you introduced in a journal article, although you will need permission from the journal’s editor to quote passages of the article if it is behind a paywall.
  • You don’t need to convince readers that your contribution is important. The editors will take care of this in the foreword of the book. This will allow you to be more confident and creative in your writing.

A book chapter offers an opportunity to focus on engaged readers from a wider background, rather than just reviewers and academic colleagues. It helps you develop solid writing skills that might progress in a full book as you get more confident and advance in your academic career.

Sciendo strives to meet all publishing needs of authors. We publish monographs, textbooks, edited volumes, and other book types. You can choose between Open Access for the electronic version of your books or for the book to be distributed via traditional methods. Visit https://sciendo.com/publish for more information.

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