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Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship.
Such a paper, also called an article, will only be considered valid if it undergoes a process of peer review by one or more referees (who are academics in the same field) who check that the content of the paper is suitable for publication in the journal.
A paper may undergo a series of reviews, revisions, and re-submissions before finally being accepted or rejected for publication. Next, there is often a delay of many months (or in some fields, over a year) before an accepted manuscript appears.
The humanities have been particularly affected by the pressure on university publishers, which are less able to publish monographs when libraries can not afford to purchase them.
For example, the ARL found that in "1986, libraries spent 44% of their budgets on books compared with 56% on journals; twelve years later, the ratio had skewed to 28% and 72%." In addition, experts have suggested measures to make the publication process more efficient in disseminating new and important findings by evaluating the worthiness of publication on the basis of the significance and novelty of the research finding.
In the 1960s and 1970s, commercial publishers began to selectively acquire "top-quality" journals that were previously published by nonprofit academic societies.
When the commercial publishers raised the subscription prices significantly, they lost little of the market, due to the inelastic demand for these journals.
Investment analysts, however, have been skeptical of the value added by for-profit publishers, as exemplified by a 2005 Deutsche Bank analysis which stated that "we believe the publisher adds relatively little value to the publishing process...
We are simply observing that if the process really were as complex, costly and value-added as the publishers protest that it is, 40% margins wouldn't be available." The university budget cuts have reduced library budgets and reduced subsidies to university-affiliated publishers.
At that time, the act of publishing academic inquiry was controversial and widely ridiculed. Merton, a sociologist, found that 92% of cases of simultaneous discovery in the 17th century ended in dispute.
It was not at all unusual for a new discovery to be announced as an anagram, reserving priority for the discoverer, but indecipherable for anyone not in on the secret: both Isaac Newton and Leibniz used this approach. The number of disputes dropped to 72% in the 18th century, 59% by the latter half of the 19th century, and 33% by the first half of the 20th century.