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Or VDM — Verlag Dr. Müller?

Or VDM Publishing House?

Or LAP Lambert Academic Publishing?

Or Südwestdeutsche Verlag für Hochschul schriften?

Or Verlag Classic Edition (VCE)?

Or Alphascript Publishing?

Ready for the answer, dear readers?  Okay:

They’re all the same entity.  And most of them are what Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware has dubbed ‘author mills.’  For a short description of what an author mill is, see this entry on Wikipedia.

Got it?  If you didn’t have time to read through those pages, let me sum it up for you:

VDM Verlag, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, and whatever they happen to be calling themselves today are publishing houses that publish on demand.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well, let’s say you’ve written something (like, for instance, your dissertation) that no publisher in his right mind would want to turn into a book and market.  But you really want that 300-page treatise to be a book.  The solution is simple — trot on over to VDM/LAP/whatever and ask them to publish it.  You sign over the rights, they print a few copies for you to give to your mum and dad, and then they list it on Amazon.com with a price tag of a hundred dollars or so.  If someone actually orders it, they’ll run off a copy and ship it out.  And maybe they’ll pay you some royalties at some point, but more likely not (Strauss, 2009).  Actually, you don’t even have to do the work of seeking these cats out — their cold-calling techniques are finely honed:  if you’ve written a dissertation (even a crappy one that barely passed), it’ll be on file with UMI.  The “publishers” will track you down, along with your committee members, and send you (and your committee) something that looks like this:

Dear Last Name, First Name,

I am writing on behalf of the International publishing house, Lambert Academic Publishing.

In the course of a research on the XYZ University, I came across a reference to your work in the field of ABC.

We are an International publisher whose aim is to make academic research available to a wider audience.

LAP Publishing would be especially interested in publishing your dissertation in the form of a printed book.

Your reply including an e-mail address to which I can send an e-mail with further information in an attachment will be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to hear from you

Kind regards,
Tatiana Zetu
Acquisition Editor
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG
Saarbrücken
Dudweiler Landstraße 99, 66123 Saarbrücken Germany

Uh huh.  So the short version is this:  the published book on offer is really no different than having your dissertation on file at UMI or having UMI run off a few bound copies — because the idea of having a book published is that (and this is key) not just any Joe Schmo gets to have a book published. Think of it this way:  if you’re harbouring any illusions about being in some special set of academics-with-a-book once you’ve gone with VDM/LAP, you’re just in the same set you were before — that of academics-with-a-dissertation.  Which is pretty much everyone.  It ain’t that glamourous, folks.

Here’s what the nice people over at U Mass Amherst’s library have to say about it:

Umass Amherst recommends that students who would normally publish a monograph of their thesis or dissertation for promotion and tenure purposes should rely on more traditionally accepted / peer reviewed publishers within their respective fields for publishing opportunities.  This publishing venue uses a print-on-demand model and markets dissertations and theses through Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and other large online booksellers.  Royalties are paid to authors when sufficient sales warrant.  VDM/Lambert Academic Publishing routinely contacts authors of dissertations and theses using information they get through ProQuest, the University, library catalogs, and other sources.  Authors should note that VDM/Lambert Academic Publishing requests exclusive distribution rights for versions that they publish.

Why have I spent all this time going on about VDM/LAP?  Simply because I noticed a few of them popped up on the publication lists of faculty members at UAEU.  Then I noticed a few more — at the American University of Sharjah, KUSTAR, the Petroleum Institute, and the University of Sharjah.  In most of the eighteen cases presented below, the VDM/LAP “book” is the only book publication these faculty have to show for themselves (one of them even has two – TWO!).  Not only does this show something less than real scholarly achievement, but if the following faculty (and their program chairs/deans/provosts/etc.) truly believe that these publications are meaningfully different than the Ph.D. that got them a job in the first place, it shows more than a little naïveté.

So while I would be supremely embarrassed walking into my western tenure review with a single book photocopied published by Dr. Müller and Friends (in that case, suicide would seem a felicitous alternative to the review), over here it’s likely that I’d be given a pat on the back and promoted.

Because, after all, this is Academics in the Desert.

And here’s sample based on about 30 minutes of research:

United Arab Emirates University:

http://www.fedu.uaeu.ac.ae/doctors/Mehmet-Buldu.html
Buldu, M. (2009). Constructivism in early childhood education. Teacher educator beliefs and practices. Cologne, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG

http://www.fbe.uaeu.ac.ae/dba/faculty_cv/elbanna_cv.pdf
Elbanna, S. 2010. Making strategic decisions: A state of the art review and empirical evidence from a cultural perspective. Dudweiler Landstr: Lambert Academic Publishing.

http://citweb.uaeu.ac.ae/citweb/profile.jsp?userName=f.ahmed
Ahmed, F.; Capretz, L.F. & Campbell, P. (2009) Software Product Lines: A Process Assessment Methodology, A Practitioner’s Approach, VDM Verlag, Pages: 284, ISBN: 978-3-639-11908-4.

http://citweb.uaeu.ac.ae/citweb/profile.jsp?userName=serhanim
M. Adel Serhani, “A Framework and Methodology for Managing Quality of Web Services”, VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K. (February 20, 2008), ISBN: 3836457679, 204 pages.

http://citweb.uaeu.ac.ae/citweb/profile.jsp?userName=p.campbell
Ahmed, F.; Capretz, L.F. & Campbell, P. (2009) Software Product Lines: A Process Assessment Methodology, VDM Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-639-11908-4.

American Univerisity of Sharjah:

http://www.aus.edu/cas/masscom/people/Ibahrine.php
New Media and Neo-Islamism: New Media’s Impact on the Political Culture in the Islamic World. Saarbrücken: Vdm Verlag Dr. Müller. 2007

http://www.aus.edu/sbm/profile/mmajdalawieh.php
Scholarly Book: Munir Majdalawieh, “Security Framework for Distributed Network Protocol (DNP3) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System” Published by VDM Verlag ISBN 978-3-8364-7056-8, September 2008.

http://www.aus.edu/cas/matesol/newsletter/documents/Newsletter_Spring_2009.pdf
“In April [2009], Theme in Text: Weighing the Evidence, a book based on [Dr Peter Compton’s] doctoral dissertation, was published by Verlag Dr Müller, Saarbrucken.”

http://www.aus.edu/media/publications/documents/AUSNEWS_May_2010.pdf
Dr. Sattar Izwaini (Arabic and Translation Studies) recently released his book Translation and The Language of Information Technology (Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag). The book is a study of the vocabulary of the language of information technology and how it is translated into Arabic and Swedish. One pioneering aspect of the book is how software and website interfaces are dealt with when translated.”

http://www.aus.edu/facultybios/docs/malsatari.pdf
Al Satari, M., Estimation of Seismic Response Demands for R/C Framed Structures: An Insight Into The Nonlinear Seismic Behavior. (VDM Verlag, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2008), ISBN 978-3-639-04424.

Khalifa University:

http://www.kustar.ac.ae/main/index.php?page=kamal-taha
Kamal Taha, Efficient Approaches for Querying XML Data: Keyword-Based, Personalized, and Distributed Queries, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, May 2010, 160 pp.

http://www.kustar.ac.ae/main/index.php?page=osama-fawwaz
Osama Fawwaz (2010), “Theoretical Calculation of the Electronic States of the Molecule Narb”, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, ISBN: 9783838376042.

http://www.kustar.ac.ae/main/index.php?page=george-wesley-hitt
G. W. Hitt, “Light-Ion Charge-Exchange Applied to Stellar Electron-Capture Studies” (book), LAP Academic Publishing, Saarbrucken, Germany (2010).

The Petroleum Institute:

http://www.pi.ac.ae/pi_aca/pe/faculty_staff/sghedan.php
Jing Lu,  Shawket  Ghedan,  Djebbar  Tiab, “Analytical  Solutions to Productivity and Pressure Transient Equations,”  ISBN 978-3-639-10320-5,  VDM  Verlag Publishing  Ltd., Saarbrucken,  Germany , September,  2010.

http://www.pi.ac.ae/pi_aca/pe/faculty_staff/jlu.php
Jing Lu,  Djebbar  Tiab,  Productivity Equations for  Oil  Well – New Solutions Based on Three Dimensional Models, ISBN 978-3-639-15123-7,  VDM  Verlag Publishing  Ltd.,  Saarbrucken,  Germany , May,  2009.

http://www.pi.ac.ae/pi_aca/cor/faculty_staff/hlim.php
Lim, H. L. (2008). Constructing learning conversations: Virtual collaborative learning processes in higher education. Germany: VDM Verlag. ISBN: 978-3639025583.

University of Sharjah (not American University of Sharjah):

https://www.sharjah.ac.ae/English/Academics/Colleges/Engineering/Departments/Elecomeng/Faculty%20Cv/Pages/DrShoufan.aspx
Shoufan A., “High Performance Group Key Management, A Way to scalable Internet Television”, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken, 2007, ISBN: 978-3-8364-2128-7.

http://www.sharjah.ac.ae/English/Academics/Colleges/BusinessAdmini/Departments/Managementit/Documents/CV_Dr.OualidBenAli.pdf
Ali Walid (2008) “2D/3D MultiAgent GeoSimulation: A Generic Method and its Application”. ISBN-10: 3836472295

References:

n.a. (n.d.). Author Mill.  Wikipedia. Retrieved (23 Nov 2010) from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Author_mill

Strauss, V. VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Retrieved (21 Nov 2010) from http://www.sfwa.org/2009/09/victoria-strauss-vdm-verlag-dr-mueller/

University of Massachusetts Amherst.  (n.d.).  VDM/Lambert Academic Publishing.  Retrieved (20 Nov 2010) from http://guides.library.umass.edu/content.php?pid=110362&sid=832620

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