Springer Theses – the “best of the best”
Internationally top-ranked research institutes select their best thesis annually for publication in this series. Nominated and endorsed by two recognized specialists, each thesis is chosen for its scientific excellence and impact on research. For greater accessibility to non-specialists, the published versions include an extended introduction, as well as a foreword by the student’s supervisor explaining the special relevance of the work for the field. As a whole, the series provides a valuable resource both for newcomers to the relevant field, and for other scientists seeking detailed background information on special questions. Finally, it provides an accredited documentation of the valuable contributions made by today’s younger generation of scientists.
The content of the series is available to millions of readers worldwide and, in addition to profiting from this broad dissemination, the author of each thesis is rewarded with a cash prize equivalent to € 500.
At first glance it sounds like a great offer.
GlobeEdit, a new online company, offers to publish and promote your thesis worldwide completely free of charge.
But it is a trap, according to a leading expert, Morten Rosenmeier, professor in intellectual property law and chairman of UBVA (the Committee for the Protection of Scientific Work). If you sign the contract with the company, you end up giving your dissertation and hard work away for free, he says.
A bad contract
He has read the publication contract from GlobeEdit, and his verdict is clear. It´s simply a bad deal because the terms and conditions are unfair to the author.
“I wouldn´t advise my students to sign this contract because it gives the publishing firm control of your academic work. Actually I have never seen a publishing contract like that before in Denmark,” he says.
Morten Rosenmeier mentions section two as one of the problematic parts of the contract. It is stated that GlobeEdit is granted the right to adapt your dissertation and save and adapt all data used. This also applies to your personal data.
Furthermore GlobeEdit can transfer the rights to another company without asking you as the writer for permission. According to Morten Rosenmeier the royalties that will be given to the author are also »extremely small«. The terms in the contract are muddy and complicated.
“Most likely you will never see any money, so in reality you are giving your dissertation away to the company for free,” he says.
To add to this, it could be problematic if you plan to do research, as serious scientists can see right away that publications from GlobeEdit are not peer reviewed or edited, he adds.
Publishes 10,000 titles a year
Rasmus Damkjær Christensen, is a communications officer at the Research & Innovation division at UCPH. He got an e-mail from GlobeEdit offering to publish his dissertation about negative campaigning in American elections.
At first he thought it was a spam message, but he got interested as the sender called Samantha Robinson knew both his name and the title of his thesis.
So he decided to google the company and it turned out GlobeEdit is part of VDM Publishing, a German publishing group based in Saarbrücken. VDM Group has 27 subsidiaries, and annually publishes more than 10,000 new titles.
Warnings on the internet
Rasmus Damkjær Christensen found the internet full of warnings against VDM and the subsidiaries.
»What they do is to take your dissertation, snap on a frontpage and try to sell it for EUR 50 to 100 on the internet. It seems to me that the are trying to cover up what they are doing by setting up companies with different names around the world,« he says.
According to Wikipedia, VDM has been criticized for profiting from the sale of unacclaimed works and for insufficiently disclosing that content is available for free elsewhere, An article in the Swiss newspaper Berner Zeitung describes VDM’s practices as bordering on deception.
An author mill
Victoria Strauss characterizes VDM Publishing as »an academic author mill« at the American blog »Writer Beware«.
»Author mills, which must maintain an enormous volume of authors in order to make money, have a voracious appetite. Those that feed on book writers need only lie in wait on the Internet, since book writers are actively seeking publication- but students and professors may not be, or may be looking only in specialized areas, so rather than wait for them to come to it, an academic author mill must go to them. VDM (and its clones) do a lot of cold call solicitation. If you receive one of VDM’s emails, and you’ve got an old dissertation sitting around, you may think you have nothing to lose, and might even get a little exposure and a bit of money. Be warned, though: the terms of VDM’s contract are not author-friendly,« she writes.
Also the Australian Catholic University (ACU) issued a warning on their website:
»ACU recommends that staff and research students consult their supervisor or associate dean before publishing with a these companies as you may adversely affect your academic career by publishing with this company or others like it.«
VDM Publishing: Happy customers
University Post asked VDM Publishing for an interview but the company has not responded.
However CEO Wolfgang Philipp Müller responded to the aggressive reputation of VDM Publishing in a interview on VDM’s own website in 2009:
»We make an approach to our authors offering to publish their work. That’s not good manners in the distinguished publishing sector. On the other hand, our customers are totally satisfied with our publishing service.«
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