A publisher for an e-textbook is offering me an honorarium if I try it with a class. My own ethical take on this is that I would not entertain this regardless of the size of the honorarium (which I don't know). I certainly wouldn't do this without full disclosure to the students who I'm forcing to buy the book. I also don't see this as a particularly good text for my course.

While my own position is sort of steadfast, it's something that I haven't seen before in academic publishing, so I'll ask "Are there situations where taking an honorarium for trying a textbook on a class is acceptable behavior?"

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    Is this simply a bribe to use the textbook or are they asking for your feedback on the book?
    – StrongBad
    Oct 6, 2014 at 17:44
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    Maybe if the honorarium is larger than the total amount the students will spend on the book. Or if part of the deal involves the students getting the book for free. The cynic in me says that those seem unlikely though. Oct 6, 2014 at 18:30
  • From the message: "Test Marketing Program- To help with budget cuts ***** (publisher name deleted) is offering to you and your department a test marketing program with an honorarium involved." Oct 6, 2014 at 21:07
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    Refuse the honorarium, but (if you think the book is good enough) agree to test the book if the publishers give the students free copies, no strings attached.
    – JeffE
    Oct 6, 2014 at 22:41

2 Answers 2


I think if you'd not seriously consider the text without the honorarium, that clinches a "don't do it". That is, external monetary motivations should not be allowed to color your professional judgement. And, given that the appearance of impropriety is itself a potential problem, even if the text is plausible, better to be able to later claim objectivity by not taking an honorarium/bribe...

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    Fully agree -- but what if (unlike the present situation) this were the perfect book. It would still seem wrong. Oct 6, 2014 at 21:09
  • This doesn't seem to answer the question that was asked - it answers the reverse question.
    – ff524
    Oct 6, 2014 at 21:11
  • Sorry, I meant to make it clear that I thought the answer should always be "no, it's not ok to accept an honorarium [sic] from a publisher..." Oct 7, 2014 at 13:22

In this situation "honorarium" seems like a glorified bribe. It would be OK to accept payment for actual work (like, producing a written report on how the book did in a class), but as long as no such work is expected then all the publisher would be asking is for the instructor to sell his students. So my answer would be a plain "no".

One of the reasons that Universities pay their professors handsomely is precisely in order to buy them freedom.

I would add that such a publisher deserves to be made "famous" for such practices.

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    I completely agree with the last statement.
    – Stefano
    Oct 8, 2014 at 3:23
  • +1 for the answer, but I'm afraid that "Universities pay their professors handsomely" is not universally true.
    – Pere
    Sep 20, 2017 at 12:32

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