Q: How does one evaluate the quality of a monograph that is not peer reviewed?

Detailed Question -

If a publishing house does not provide for peer review, is the monograph then evaluated after publication by other scholars in the same field?

1 Answer to this question

‘Monograph’ is the correct term, although the more common term is a book, typically a book on a technical topic that covers the subject in some depth. It is called a ‘monograph’ because it is a one-off publication, different from a ‘serial’, which is the term librarians use for periodicals, which are published at regular intervals over an unspecified period.

We clarify this because you are probably comparing a monograph with a paper published in a refereed (peer-reviewed) journal, which by definition reviews each contribution by expert reviewers, which proves to be a quality-control measure.

Monographs are subjected to a different quality-control mechanism. In the first place, the acquisitions editor in a publishing house typically invites a suitably qualified person to write a monograph, and the selection of the author is in itself a part of quality control. Next, many publishing houses also use the services of ‘readers’ – the book-publishing equivalent of referees or reviewers – who comment on the manuscript of a monograph. The development editor then works with the author to revise the manuscript in the light of the readers’ comments.

It is also common for some experts (typically two or three), who would be the editors of a proposed book, to develop a proposal for a monograph in which individual chapters are written by different authors: the editors decide on the chapters and invite other experts to write them. Again, it is the selection process that acts as a quality-control mechanism. At times, the contributors of individual chapters also serve as reviewers for other chapters, and their contributions, in turn, are also reviewed the same way.

All this happens before publication. Then, there are book reviews. Again, editors of journals, magazines, or newspapers invite suitably qualified experts to review a monograph and publish those reviews. This is of course after publication, but authors may use the reviews in revising their monograph for the next edition.

For more information and insights around monographs and books, you may refer to the following related resources:

And if you need help with editing a monograph or book that you are planning, you may learn more about our services for this too: Book Editing and Designing

Hope all that helps. If you are indeed planning a monograph/book, all the best!