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Thoughts on Cambridge Elements?

Started by Sun_Worshiper, November 02, 2022, 10:34:43 AM

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I got a request to review a manuscript for Cambridge Elements. These are 20-30,000 word booklets, somewhere between a journal article and a book. It looks interesting and I'm going to do the review, but wanted also to get people's thoughts on these more generally:
- How do you like the publishing model? Does it carry any value aside from giving you more words than a journal article would?
- Have you published one? Would you?
- How would your department view these? As equal to a CUP book, a high or low tier article, or something else?
- Are these becoming popular among top scholars in your field?

Here is the description in case you are not already familiar:


I quite like them. In my experience, they do a great job of offering an in-depth treatment of what are otherwise somewhat unusual ideas which benefit from a longer treatment. I think of them as somewhhat exploratory... kind of somewhere between a full-on research monograph and a book designed to get advanced undergrads or early grads up to snuff on some topic. In particular, it's great that they're fairly cheap.

In my discipline, the book series doesn't make it onto the CV, so it just looks like a CUP book. When I discover it's an element, I mentally downgrade it a rung, but still think it's a good and worthwhile achievement (so: a step above an article in a well-ranked generalist journal but, y'know, not equivalent to the 6+ articles I'd rate a regular monograph; maybe closer to two articles and a bit?).

For the time being, it's pretty much only well-known people in my field who publish these, and the range of subfield topics is a little narrow. For my part, I've got an idea I'd very much like to pitch, once I have a little time for it (or if they ever expand to my subfield). So yeah, I'd publish one if I had the chance.
I know it's a genus.


Yep, I'm for them. The ones in my field have been excellent.


Chiming in to agree with others -- the ones I've looked at are solid, and I like to recognition that not everything needs to be a full-length book. I also like the open access model.
"How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks...."

Ancient Fellow

I thought I'd link to a previous forum discussion of Cambridge Elements and similar series. After asking folks here and giving it a think over the last couple years, my conclusion is that they're very worthy choices in principle, but probably best not replied upon for tenure.


I just took a look at their site.  Interesting variety of subjects there.
To us a child is born, to us a son is given
And the government will rest upon his shoulders;
And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father,
The prince of Peace.
Of his government and peace there will be no end.


Small update: CUP apparently pays a flat-rate of $250 to authors, rather than royalties.

Also--and I didn't know this--the books are free to download for the first two weeks of their release into the wild.
I know it's a genus.


The update here is that I'm writing one of them.


I know it's a genus.


Quote from: Hegemony on May 31, 2023, 09:25:15 PM
The update here is that I'm writing one of them.

Nice! I've been going back and forth with an editor on one as well - hopefully it will work out.