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Publishing Studies: Academic Publishing


Admission requirements

Successful completion of the BDMS first-semester obligatory core courses. Only available for Book and Digital Media Studies students and BDMS exchange students. Others may contact the course organisers.


Traditionally, publishers are the agents in the arena of scholarly communication that organise, and to a large extent control, the formal dissemination of knowledge and culture. Today they do so increasingly in hybrid paper and electronic forms. The Publishing Studies course examines the role and meaning of publishers in the process of scholarly communication, and analyses the mechanisms at work in academic publishing as a distinct publishing field. Departing from the traditional functions of formal publishing (certification, registration, raising awareness, archiving and rewarding), central focus is on how the interests of the various stakeholders involved, including authors and their peers, the institutions where they work, funding bodies, policy makers, libraries, vendors and, last but not least, readers do or do not align. The course will examine new and emerging practices in academic publishing, mostly resulting from the introduction of digital technology and convergence, such as for instance more informal publication practices, alternative forms of quality assessment (including peer review), open access publishing and new rights regimes. Main goal of the course is to identify issues in present day academic publishing that demand research, to develop and elaborate relevant research questions, as well as to discuss work that has already been done on these issues.

Course objectives

Students learn to understand the nature of publishing as a socio-cultural phenomenon, as well as the principles and practices of (the main fields within) the academic publishing industry. They learn to understand and to analyse the main questions and issues that engage this sector and acquire a long-term perspective on publishing: past, present and future, specifically in the context of the process of continuous change now confronting the industry as a result of the application and advance of new technologies. Students will become able to identify a subject and topic for research, to plan and carry out the necessary research and to prepare a written account, also in preparation for writing an MA thesis within the field of publishing studies.


Timetable on the website:

Mode of instruction

Lectures, seminars, reading list, excursions.

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature, preparing excersises and/or presentations: 66

  • Time to prepare for the exam and/or write a paper (including reading / research): 50

Participation in all sessions of this course is compulsory. Upon prior consultation, the lecturer can permit absence at one session for compelling reasons. Students who are absent twice during the course (8 weeks) will be excluded from further participation and will have to re-take the course.

Assessment method


Course essay.




In the case of a fail, you are entitled to rewrite the final course essay.


This course is supported by“Blackboard”:

Reading list

  • Borgman, Christine L., Scholarship in the digital age: Information, infrastructure and the internet, Cambridge Mass, & London: MIT Press, 2007

  • Campbell, Robert, et al. (eds), Academic and professional publishing (Oxford: Chandos, 2012)

  • [Choice of either:] Clark, Giles, and Angus Phillips, Inside book publishing, 5th edn, London and New York: Routledge, 2014 (U.K. perspective; or:] Albert Greco, The book publishing industry, 3rd edn, London and New York: Routledge, 2013 [US perspective]

  • Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, Planned obsolescence: Publishing, technology, and the future of the academy, New York: New York University Press, 2011

  • Thompson, John, Merchants of culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010.

  • Thompson, John, Publishing in the digital age: The transformation of academic and higher education publishing in Britain and the United States, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005

  • Suber, Peter, Open access, Cambridge Mass & London: MIT Press, 2012

  • Willinsky, John, The access principle: The case for open access to research and scholarship, Cambridge MA & London: MIT Press, 2005

  • Selected articles to be provided.


Enrollment through uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Media Studies student administration, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 1.02b.