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After writing a review paper on a specific topic, is it common to write a book to expand the review paper in a more pedagogical way, and to include more subtopics/content? Also, since published papers cannot be "updated", would it be useful to have a book which takes into account new research directions and new results which have been published after the original review paper? Would be writing such a book being a problem for copyright or other reasons?

I am interested about the situation in the physics literature and hard sciences, but of course any thoughts are welcome.

  • I have seen the situation where authors are invited to write reviews/chapters, and the reviews are bundled in a book (see for example: pubs.rsc.org/en/content/ebook/978-1-84973-910-8). But what do you mean by "good idea"? I suppose it is a good idea if the topic is interesting enough, but that is hard to judge without more information. – Louic Jun 19 at 10:51
  • @Louic Thank you for the feedback. I edited the question. am concerned about copyright issues or other issues. I am not talking about books with collect chapters written by different authors but books written "as a whole", for example, by a single author. – sintetico Jun 19 at 10:59
  • FYI, I've seen several instances of review papers being updated (e.g. this updates this; and this updates this), but it's probably only done in cases where there is a large amount of interest in updating the review paper. – Dave L Renfro Jun 19 at 16:58
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I published my monograph in the field of chemistry in 2017, after I retired.

After writing a review paper on a specific topic, is it common to write a book to expand the review paper in a more pedagogical way, and to include more subtopics/content?

I have no idea. Others might speak to that.

Also, since published papers cannot be "updated", would it be useful to have a book which takes into account new research directions and new results which have been published after the original review paper?

Other things equal, I would say sure! Anything that helps us assimilate the ever-rising flood of new information is welcome, in my opinion.

Would be writing such a book being a problem for copyright or other reasons?

In my experience, the answer is no. When I wrote my monograph, I requested copyright permission to use two of my papers as book chapters. It was easy, painless and fast: the publisher of the papers gratiously granted permission.

What else? I had always heard that writing a book was a labor of love. Now I really know that labor is the operative term and, regardless of the ultimate fate of my monograph, I know that I had it in me to persevere. So if you write the book, I wish you the best of success, and I truly hope indexing is not the largely unmitigated horror of the old days!

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There are two aspects of answering your question: copyright issues and the wisest investment of your research time.

Concerning copyright, most journal publishers that I am familiar with explicitly authorize authors to reuse their published articles (even verbatim with no changes) in future books, as long as the original journal publication is explicitly cited. You need to read the copyright assignment that you signed to verify these details. If still in doubt, you can email the editor and ask them directly. What you are asking to do is very common and very reasonable and should pose no problem. It only contributes to the journal's visibility, so they should not have any objection.

Concerning whether it is worthwhile to invest your time and efforts on expanding your previous review article into a book, that question depends on your scholarly field--are book publications rewarded in comparable ways to journal publications? By "reward", I mean do books count equivalently in decisions of hiring, promotion, tenure, grant awards, etc.? This varies widely by field. In my discipline (business, specifically information systems), the answer is a definite NO: book publications count very little for these decisions, at least in research-intensive institutions like mine (books probably carry more weight in institutions that are less research-intensive). In my discipline, it would be much more worthwhile to write a second follow-up journal article that picks up from where the previous one left and updates outdated information.

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  • I agree with your analysis. However, a return of investment will be 1) the economical benefit of selling the book and 2) the prestige that follows to write a book that may be studied by phd students or even graduate students. But as you said, it depends on the research field. – sintetico Jun 21 at 13:52
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    For economic benefit, I'm not an expert on the topic, but my impression is that academic books pay peanuts compared to the effort to produce them. I wouldn't expect any economic benefit if I were you. – Tripartio Jun 21 at 13:56
  • I won't comment about prestige. But if you want to be widely read, then publishing journal articles would almost definitely give you much broader readership than a book, which even today is normally accessible only to people who explicitly pay for them. So, I think a journal article would be a much better investment of your time if you want to gain broad readership. – Tripartio Jun 21 at 13:58
  • Well, university libraries buy books on a regular basis, so that students can just use their copies. This is at least what happens in Europe, in Japan, and probably many other countries. – sintetico Jun 21 at 14:02
  • @sintetico See How much revenue do academic authors make on their published books? for a bit of reality check. But I think there are also timing aspects to it - publishing a book while a field is going big (from recent years in physics, Bernevig and Hughes' Topological Insulators and Topological Superconductivity comes to mind) can probably net a large number of sales. – Anyon Jun 21 at 14:43
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I would not recommend this because writing and reading research books is not popular among physicists. Physicists prefer journal articles.

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  • what is a "research book"? I am not talking about a book containing original research, but a book reviewing a research field which is already established but still have a few or no widely accepted textbooks on the topic – sintetico Jun 22 at 3:08
  • @sintetico Either of those things. I also would not recommend writing a textbook unless it is significantly cheaper than existing textbooks. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 22 at 3:18

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