By Georgi Bordner, Head of Technical Services
Are you looking forward to finishing your thesis or dissertation and dreaming of the day when you might actually see your work in print? Companies such as Lambert Academic Publishing are counting on it.
In his article “I Sold My Undergraduate Thesis to a Print Content Farm,” Joseph Stromberg describes his experience of being contacted by LAP Lambert (part of the German company VDM) with the suggestion that they would like to publish his thesis as a book.1 According to Stromberg and others who have reported similar experiences, Lambert editors contact thousands of academics via bulk e-mail, offering to publish their works. All the authors have to do is send a PDF of the thesis and transfer all rights to publish it to the company. The publisher pays for all publishing costs, and the author gets 12% of the royalties if enough copies are sold.
The problem with this system is that the resulting books are generally cheaply made and published with no editorial review. Authors are pressured to buy multiple copies of their own book, but few books are sold to anyone else. Some people who have bought books published by Lambert have expressed their anger in discovering the amateur quality of what they expected to be edited, full-length books.
We advise students to think carefully before choosing to publish with companies like LAP Lambert or VDM. Due to the lack of peer review, including these imprints in your C.V. might actually hurt your reputation and your job prospects, and you will not even be able to publish parts of your work elsewhere, such as in an academic journal, since you will be required to give up all rights to it. When you are ready to publish, be sure to choose a publisher that will give your work the careful review and editing it deserves, while allowing you to maintain your rights to use the content in any way that you would like.
1Joseph Stromberg, “I Sold My Undergraduate Thesis to a Print Content Farm: A Trip through the Surreal World of an Academic Book Mill” Slate, March 23, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/pzm8d4x.