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My Problem

Generally, my problem is that I have put a great effort on a laboratory manual and I would like to publish it. Specifically, I am would like to publish a stand-alone laboratory manual for an introductory control-theory course.

I would like to have my manual peer reviewed and published. Where could I submit my laboratory manual for the purpose of review and publication?

Anecdote

Let me start with a personal anecdote, I have taken a hand full of courses in control theory throughout my academic career. Without exception, I feel that only at the end of the courses did I even have a clue about what I had just done and how come. I believe that a solid, stand-alone laboratory course could ease passage for students. I had looked for on-line available laboratory manuals for my undergraduate course. I found many were available, but not that meet my needs for one reason or another. I have largely felt that the authors are missing a compelling and pithy narrative that weaves together the material for their audience. Rather, its a series of tasks to undertake.

Regarding Peer Review

Peer review has many advantages as compared to just posting the lab manual on a department website. Though publication might not be possible, perhaps there is a internet site where a project might be submitted for review, or offered as the basis of a collaboration. In such case, if the process was open and juried, then there would be some measure of peer review (I imagine that this is similar to how projects like linux are done). The end work of this project might simply be a book registered with the library of congress.

Regarding Publication

Publication also has many advantages as compared to just posting on the internet. Mainly though---at least for me---I'd like that a user could easily obtain the manual, and meaningfully cite the manual (e.g., while preparing laboratory reports).

Perhaps I could post it on Arxiv? I have just looked and see that there are course notes posted there. However, this alone seems to miss out on peer review.

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    @user2768, how come you ask that question? Your question is a good one, and the answer is in the manual's short preface. How would the answer to your question inform an answer to my question? Sep 1, 2020 at 19:57
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    Maybe not a lab manual per se, but in some fields there are more education-focused journals. For example, the American Journal of Physics does have articles on lab experiments suitable for undergraduate physics classes.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 1, 2020 at 20:15
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    I think it is hard to answer this without knowing the content, but most likely the answer is that you cannot. Sep 1, 2020 at 23:30
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    It would be useful if you described what other people would find useful about your lab manual. Given this, people could suggest routes to publishing or promoting it. Sep 2, 2020 at 0:56
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    @MichaelLevy Because it'd influence my response. As echoed in the previous two comments above
    – user2768
    Sep 2, 2020 at 4:23

1 Answer 1

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To a publisher

Publishing a laboratory manual for an undergraduate course is in some way similar to publishing a textbook, which in some ways similar to publishing any other book.

Publishers publish books. In some cases, when they expect that there is going to be a profitable market, they pay authors for the books they publish, and in other cases authors (or some institutions) cover the costs and either hope that the books will sell in sufficient quantity or receive the books and distribute themselves. In your case, the latter situation is likely - if you'd want to publish that manual, someone (perhaps your university department) would have to cover the full costs of doing so and would get the published manuals to distribute to students and potentially other customers.

Your university may have a publisher subsidiary (it's not that uncommon) who are involved in publishing academic material, if so, it would be worth talking to them.

However, that generally won't be treated as a peer reviewed research publication; it's plausible that it even won't be peer reviewed at all. Preparing and publishing educational material can get you some "points" in various academic evaluations, but that's a different category than peer reviewed papers with novel research.

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    +1 though an article discussing the advantages of the teaching style in this lab manual isn’t out of the question. (It would go in an education journal, however, not a journal dedicated to results in chemistry or biology.)
    – Dave
    Sep 2, 2020 at 2:01
  • I am asking for more information. You write, "if you'd want to publish that manual, someone... would have to cover the full costs of doing so..." How would the prospect of an on-line publisher alter your position on this topic? Would you agree that the financial burden is significantly reduced where the end is that each user prints their own manual? Sep 2, 2020 at 13:12
  • @Dave, I agree that an education journal is a good idea. Perhaps a part of the manual can be submitted there. However, I feel that in my case, the material is so complicated that a series of consecutive experiments is in order---not one experiment alone. How does what I am writing inform your previous comment? Sep 2, 2020 at 13:54
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    @MichaelLevy printing a limited amount of books/booklets isn't a large financial burden, it's just not zero (e.g. it might cost a thousand or a couple thousand dollars to print a small release depending on the size and content) but researchers usually would not want to do it out of their own pocket but rather through their institution. Digital publishing is an option; it still needs some effort and some costs (e.g. you may want to register an ISBN), but you can save some trees and the cost of printing.
    – Peteris
    Sep 2, 2020 at 20:52
  • I'm marking this answer as correct. That said, I think there might be other good answers out there. Sep 4, 2020 at 11:29

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