A recent blog post by Dorothy Bishop on How to bury your academic writing considers the question of the relative impact of book chapters vs published articles. She concluded that book chapters generated far fewer citations than published articles and attributed it to the fact that book chapters are generally behind a paywall, often a fairly hefty one (my opinion, not hers). It prompted a follow up blog post by Pat Thompson defending the utility of book chapters and edited collections. I don't think that Ms. Bishop was saying that book chapters were a waste of time; indeed, she claimed that some of her best scholarly work was done as book chapters, as the medium allows for more speculation and creativity than journal articles. I too have found that to be true; some of my best works were book chapters, even though I was told early on in my academic career that book chapters were generally a waste of time and effort, as they did not count towards academic promotion (at least in the biomedical field). They allowed me greater literary freedom than the typical biomedical article, and I was able to devote more than the typical paragraph to speculations. But even I can't get these chapters anymore for the most part, except as my original word files, unless I have a copy of the book around. So I concur with Ms. Bishop that writing book chapters is perfectly fine, but writing them on-line where they can be found and actually read would likely make them much more useful. There are a lot of interesting tools and models out there where this could be done, e.g., Wikibooks . Certainly something to consider.
About Maryann Martone
A short biography:
I received my BA from Wellesley College in biological psychology and my Ph. D. in neuroscience in 1990 from the University of California, San Diego, where I am currently a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. My background is in neuroanatomy, particularly light and electron microscopy, but I spend most of my... More