For those of you who have become cynical in the face of academic publishing, an enterprise sometimes accused of supporting itself in spite of rather than in support of the ideas contained in the books that are its product, I share with you the following email I received from IGI Global:

Subject: Forthcoming Copyright Years – Invitations to Publish

Dear Prof. ______:

Greetings, I hope all is well! I would like to personally invite you to consider submitting an edited book, handbook of research or encyclopedia proposal within your field of research and expertise for possible consideration as a publication for our forthcoming 2010 and/or 2011 copyright years.

Editing a book grants you the valuable opportunity to enhance your area of expertise, and also provides many other scholars with the opportunity to benefit from the contents of the publication. A systematic approach is required in bringing together a group of scholars with the same research interests to collaborate on a single publication. Editing a scholarly book calls for certain leadership and coordinating skills, as well as tremendous guidance from the publisher of the work. The perspective editor will need to be prepared to designate an honorary advisory board of 5+ individuals to support the scholarly credibility of the title. Edited books contain a minimum of 15 chapters and a total of 135,000-170,000 words.

To begin, upon acceptance of your proposed book project, our development team will provide you with a copy of our comprehensive guide, “Guide to Editing a Book” which leads you step-by-step through the publication process. This guide allows you to benefit directly from our years of experience related to publishing edited scholarly books. IGI will provide you with the needed support to organize your ideas, identify contributing authors, review contributions, and put together a high quality publication!

For further information please see:

Should you be interested in editing a book or encyclopedia, please e-mail us a prospectus (5-10 pages) for possible consideration to by ***NO LATER THAN December 27, 2008.***

Your book prospectus should include:

  1. 3-5 SUGGESTED TITLES for your proposed publication that will distinguish your theme from competing titles

    A SYNOPSIS of your proposed publication, including a concise DEFINITION of the subject area

  2. INTRODUCTION TO THE SUBJECT AREA addressing a complete explanation of the discipline and its implications

  3. 5-10 INDEXING KEYWORDS for your proposed subject area

  4. OVERALL OBJECTIVES AND MISSION of your proposed publication and why it should be published

  5. SCHOLARLY VALUE AND POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTION to information science, technology and management literature

  6. PURPOSE AND POTENTIAL IMPACT explaining and justifying why your theme is viable and how it will expand the field of research

  7. UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS of your proposed publication and how it is distinguished from existing titles within the subject area

  8. PROSPECTIVE AUDIENCE for such a publication and how the availability of such literature will aid this prospective audience

  9. POTENTIAL USES for your publication, identifying potential context(s) this book will be utilized, such as library reference, upper-level course supplement, resource for instructors, etc.

  10. POTENTIAL BENEFITS readers will gain from your proposed publication and benefits to enhance available literature

  11. EXISTING COMPETING PUBLICATIONS and their advantages and disadvantages in comparison to your proposed publication

  12. TENTATIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS listing all possible areas of coverage

  13. PLAN FOR REACHING CONTRIBUTORS identifying networks, creating website for call for papers, distributing information at conferences, etc.

  14. POTENTIAL SOLICITATION CHANNELS / VENUES (list-servs, societies, universities, etc.)

  15. PROJECTED TOTAL PAGE / WORD COUNT for proposed publication

  16. TENTATIVE TIMETABLE for the entire project

  17. COMPLETE MAILING ADDRESS phone, fax an de-mail information FOR EACH EDITOR / AUTHOR

  18. A COPY OF YOUR VITAE listing education and publication records FOR EACH EDITOR / AUTHOR

If you have any questions regarding this invitation, please do not hesitate to contact us at We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Kind regards,

[name omitted]

Acquisitions Editor

As you will doubtless agree, a letter addressed to Prof. _____ probably does not constitute a “personal invitation.” In fact, IGI’s is one of the weirdest emails I’ve received in recent memory, from the bizarre subject line about “copyright years” down to the bad English of the “perspective editor” (someone with enough foresight to delete?) and “honorary advisory board” (a board that does something only in name?). Some of my colleagues received the same message as I did, so it was clearly sent in bulk.

At Nick‘s suggestion, I had an enjoyable time reading the Wikipedia talk page about IGI Global. There, contributors note that despite the fact that IGI calls itself “The industry leader in delivering scholarly knowledge in computer science and information technology management,” not a single publication in the ACM Digital Library has ever quoted an article from an IGI book. (Someone else clarifies that a search using the publisher’s former name, IDEA Group, in fact yeilds 15 citations, 8 of which are self-citations.)

Their tentative conclusion? IGI releases “write-only” publications: “The business model seems to be: young academic writes book, publishes here, library purchases overpriced book, academic now has a book published, gets a new job at another university, has library there purchase book, etc.”

The idea of write-only publication is probably unique to the academy, and points to one of the remaining perversities hidden deep under our greying ivory towers: the idealistic pursuit of publication in the interest of documenting ideas and disseminating them to an audience of colleagues sometimes conflicts with the practical pursuit of enough publications to win tenure or promotion. It is a practice that the public ought to know more about, because it flies in the face of what universities ought to pursue: discovering and sharing knowledge for the public interest.

Here’s another way to frame publishers like IGI: they are vampire presses. They appear to be alive (disseminating ideas), but really they are dead (concealing ideas). They capture and feed on fragile individuals in order to advance their kind as a whole. They move in the shadows, sealing deals with institutional buyers under cover of night. Their goal is to hide their secret and pass it down through generations, adding to their number only as many as are needed to progress the line.

Now if only I could parlay such observation into a wildly successful adolescent fiction and film series

published November 24, 2008


  1. Prof. _____

    Your vampiric metaphor is very apt, and not just because these publications are extremely expensive and they themselves will almost never see the light of day. Having people write and edit worthless, perfunctory material saps the strength of these academics. Instead of doing this, those writers could be conducting real research, writing real articles, teaching, eating ice cream, looking at the sky … or doing many other more meaningful things.

  2. Young Prof


    I also received a similar message. Curiously, mine was a tad more personalized. It actually began by referencing an article I published!

    “Considering the ongoing need for high-quality research in REMOVED and your scholarly expertise and your paper, â??REMOVED: ABOUT REMOVEDâ?, we encourage you to consider submitting your work and valuable knowledge to this growing field of importance. At this time, we would like to personally invite you to expand the current body of literature on this area by submitting a proposal on REMOVED or related topics of your interest for an Edited/Authored book or Handbook of Research.”

    I guess it’s like a variant of the Nigerian scams…but targeted at academics!

  3. Ian Bogost

    Ha! I guess in defense of the IGI folks, they are probably not trying to commit identity theft as a part of their publishing dupe. But indeed, the Nigerian scam analogy seems particularly apt: they certainly don’t seem to be selling what they claim.

  4. Abel Arguer

    Interestingly enough, a company executive has a Dr. in Comp Sci and can’t even use the English language properly.

  5. Passerby

    Could you guys, please, name your published “reputable” books? Oh… you are just a bunch of academic losers that spent time online gossiping and badmouthing your own colleagues… 🙁

  6. WZJZ

    One IGI Global’s Journal Received 1.8 Impact Factor from ISI

    (1.8 x 2 x 20 = 72) or (1.8 x 2 x 30 = 108)

    “(Someone else clarifies that a search using the publisher’s former name, IDEA Group, in fact yeilds 15 citations, 8 of which are self-citations.)”

    Could it be because IDEA Group is not an author

    but a publisher?

  7. Passerby

    Here is an article about the Director of Marketing at IGI Global:

    It seems that IGI Global hires professional scam artists to run their scams

  8. Passerby

    Visit the website and look at the research and anyone with common sense will see this research is not a scam. A scam would not have such and increase in publishing and supporters — IGI Global is a solid and growing publisher.

  9. BloodSwollen

    Of course it’s a cynical scam – if they’re unprofessional enough to leave basic spelling errors unaddressed, they’re a bunch of dispreputable con artists. Stuff and nonsense!

  10. Gaylen

    Aspects of academic arrogance, such as the generalized attacks on a press based on citation numbers and its manner of soliciting contributions, reveal one of the fundamental and persistent problems with academia: its inability to abandon forms of ivory tower mentality. Is the university press the only acceptable venue for publication? Does that mean that books/articles published through a university press guarantee quality and scholarly value? Is it the stamp of institutional authority that somehow grants credibility? All those who are in academia know –regardless of their official declamations–that this is certainly not the case. The world could have been spared many a word that has come from these. It seems that some esteemed members of the establishment have forgotten that quality can and does exist outside the “approved” and that each book and article can be assessed based on its own merit, rather than dismissed or judged in accordance to who the publisher may be. I guess such academic arrogance does save time in that it gives us a kind of shorthand excuse not to read and make up our own mind as to their quality. It’s so much easier when someone else, such as the Establishment, has done that for us….

  11. phyllis chiasson

    I agree with passerby and gaylen above.

    In addition to publications with other publishers, I have published twice with Igi global. In both cases, the peer review process was rigorous and my only complaint in both cases was with copyediting for which correct APA citations were changed to incorrect in the course of typesetting. I caught most, but we had only a few days to review copy. On the whole though, I experienced them as highly reputable.

    I agree that the books are expensive, but so are most reference books from other publishers.

  12. Another passerby

    Not all IGI Global products are bad. There are a few good journals. The publisher is too profit-oriented and not academic-oriented. Just have to select your outlets carefully.

  13. passerby

    I received an invitation from IGI Global to edit books. They seem to email that to almost everyone that I know — senior scholars, junior professors, and Ph.D. students. To be fair, they do have some good journals and books edited by well-known scholars in the field. Agreed with passerby above â?? be selective and research the editors before submitting your papers.