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I received an invitation from a Prof. in an highly ranked University to publish a chapter in a book (Computer Science). The book publisher is a well known publisher. As far as I know, the chapter will be peer reviewed. The topic is in my research field and considered state of the art topic. The time schedule is tight (one month). I would like to know if such a publication is considered a valuable publication and has equivalent value to publishing a paper in journal?

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    Would the book chapter contain any new unpublished results, or would it be restricted to reviewing the current state of the art? Apr 24, 2023 at 20:42
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    You've not said where you are based. How are academics rated in your field and country (or country you want to get jobs in future). In my STEM field in UK book chapters aren't considered in REF assessment and can be time consuming for little reward. However, in Arts they are considered for promotion.
    – JayBee
    Apr 25, 2023 at 6:37
  • Related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/5556/1033
    – gerrit
    Apr 25, 2023 at 6:40
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    Ask yourself whether you could produce a journal article in a month and you have a good answer. Apr 25, 2023 at 12:17

5 Answers 5

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They are not equivalent, and the relative value depends. That's the distinction between primary and secondary literature. Many classic 'papers' in my field are not papers but book chapters with novel arguments (not data, obviously, those would be in a paper.) Both are valuable and having both in the CV is better than having only one of the two. If I were in the middle of finishing a research paper and a book chapter offer with a tight deadline came along, I would pass. But you don't mention having to choose one over the other, so it's to your advantage to accept.

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    In my field (linguistics), journal articles have traditionally been considered far superior to book chapters in terms of their value/prestige, but I notice colleagues of mine starting to push back on the conventional narrative - which I think benefits everyone.
    – trikeprof
    Apr 27, 2023 at 15:53
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I would say yes, especially if the chapter provides a mini review with an overview on the topic, plus some new contribution. And if the professor who is editing the book is well known, it means that they will promote the book, and thus the contribution will have high visibility. Moreover since their name will be on the book I would expect that the contributions will have higher chances to get cited.

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Evaluating the value of a book chapter (for purposes such as tenure review, salary increases, promotion, hiring, etc.) can be more difficult than evaluating a conference or journal article, as it is not immediately clear how much peer evaluation was done.

On the plus side, you have an invitation by a recognized person in the field. This is like an invited article in a journal, which in Computer Science adds value. On the negative side, without your chapter, the book might be incomplete, so they can at worst prod you to better the chapter if you did a lousy job. (Not that you would ever do that.)

There is also a lot of predatory publishing going on with book-chapter invitations and some few good people have become stooges in a pay-to-publish scam. Since your potential editor has a renown, that is not the case here and an evaluator would hopefully know that. Then of course there are conference articles that are published as chapters in a book such as Springer Lecture Notes. This means that an evaluator has to look closely at the editor and the publisher.

The impact measured in citations is a different category. A chapter in a book might be less visible, as books authored by many people tend to lack coherence (in Computer Science).

So, summing up, a book chapter under these circumstances would not equal a class A publication, but might be better than a class C conference publication depending on the status of the editor. If you can do a good job in a month, I would go for it. You might be gaining the editor as a future letter writer.

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Book chapters comes in different shades.
You have the ones that are 'technically' conference proceedings (CCIS, AICT, LNCS ...).
You also have the reviewed and collated like the one OP described.
Yet, there're the ones that are 'mere' collation.
I'll leave out the technical/subject books.

The weight ascribed/attached to books chapters varies at

  • country level for funding or research impact
  • discipline level where order and perception play a part
  • university level for promotion or funding or ranking.
    There are other nuances beyond the three examples.

OP scenario might be considered a valuable publication, given the description.

[Edit]
Prof. in an highly ranked University might also go alongside Prof. is an highly influential, or highly regarded in CS (subfield) conferences, or highly rank in CS (subfield)

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My sinister view is that it benefits the professor more than the authors of each chapter. The professor will promote his/her name, and harp about having written a 'whole' book by him/herself.

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