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Evaluating other publications (books, maps, manuals, handbooks, educational material, etc.)

Whereas journal publications are primarily used for the (relatively) fast communication of results to the interested scientific community, the publication of books is fulfilling a different and complementary role. And besides books, one should also consider and evaluate publications in completely different formats, such as geographical maps, practical manuals and handbooks, etc. Each of these formats has its special nature and its intended usage, and these have to be taken into account when evaluating their value, either from the point of view of their scientific quality or of their usefulness as instruments for the valorization of research results in the developing world. Because of this great variety of formats, it is rather difficult to precisely describe for all of them the guidelines for their evaluation. Below are some general ideas.


Scientific books themselves can be of different types, such as:

  • Proceedings and collected papers. In this case the evaluation criteria will be identical to those for journal articles, as described above.
  • In contrast to journal articles, which in general describe rather isolated pieces of new knowledge, such books are intended to give an overview of a whole domain, an extensive description of a field of science that has acquired some form of maturity.It is rather obvious that the author (or authors) will not be the discoverers of all aspects treated in such a book. Nevertheless, it is considered to be an added value if the author has been performing his research in the field at hand, and if at least some of the elements described in the book have been resulted from his research.
    The criterion of originality will in this case be considered more with respect to the selection and representation of the results. In judging the criterion of impact on the other hand, one should consider whether there was a real need for the publication of such a book.
  • In the humanities and social sciences, some scientific books are published for the description of an extensive and coherent research over many years (e.g. a historical biography, an important sociological survey and analysis). In this case, one may apply many of the scientific criteria mentioned for journal articles, but appropriately adapted.
  • Didactical handbooks for students again form a different category. In this case the originality will reside in the way the material is presented, and the methodology used for helping the readers understand and apply the subject.


  • Geographical maps may be very important for developing countries. The evaluation may take into account the amount and quality of the field work performed during the preparation of the maps, the selection of elements described on the map (especially with respect of the development needs of the country), the clarity of the representation, etc.

Manuals, handbooks, educational material, etc.

  • Manuals: The successful implementation of modern technologies – e.g., agricultural or industrial – often depends on the proper use of available instruments or procedures. A detailed and clearly written manual can play a very important role in a development environment where expert advice is often rare or too expensive. The writing of such a manual, although obviously not an element of fundamental research, may nevertheless be extremely useful, and it requires a thorough technical and scientific knowledge.
  • As a general rule, one should for all publication material consider their relevance: their value with respect of the desired outcome.

Building the specific guide

The steps to be followed by the authors of a specific guide for evaluating scientific publications are very similar to those taken for the evaluation of other aspects: see the page on writing the specific guide.