Since 2019, CEL has been home to not one, but two, book series. We’re sometimes asked what the difference is between the two. Well, they are each unique (and each excellent in their own way), so this post will explain their similarities and differences!


Both series feature concise, peer-reviewed books on engaged learning for a multidisciplinary, international, higher education audience. Books in both series can be either edited collections or single or multi-author. Jessie Moore and Peter Felten are the series editors for both series, so you’ll get to work with supportive and knowledgeable editors no matter which series you choose. Both series use Chicago Author-Date style. And we host open access supplemental resources for all the books in both series on our website—these are items like reading guides to support group discussion and materials that help readers put the ideas in the books into action (think lesson plans, syllabi, worksheets, etc.).

Now on to the differences…

Publishing method

The most important difference between the book series is the method of publishing. Our Open Access Book Series is, obviously, open access, while the Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching follows a more traditional publishing process.

The books in the Open Access Book Series:

  • Are available immediately for a global audience as PDF downloads at no cost to reader or author
  • Are read by most readers in digital format (though they are available as print books from Amazon’s print-on-demand service)
  • Provide authors and editors no royalties, as all production costs are absorbed by CEL and Elon University

The books in the Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching:

  • Are published in print and ebook by Routledge (originally by Stylus Publishing, which was recently acquired by Routledge/Taylor & Francis) at prices typical of most academic books
  • Provide authors and editors nominal royalties typical of most academic books (i.e., enough to fund a nice dinner out once a year so that you can continue to celebrate the publication of your work)

If you’re curious about why you might want to publish your book as open access, read this post I wrote about it. Many scholars who are still working toward tenure may be hesitant about publishing open access. Jessie has written about making a case for open access books in promotion and tenure processes. However, some authors may want/need the prestige and safety of a large, well-established publishing house like Routledge.


As noted above, books in our Open Access Book Series are read by nearly all readers as PDFs downloaded from our website. This format allows us a lot of flexibility to include interactivity and to play around with genre. We are trying to push the boundaries of traditional publishing with this series, so we encourage authors to explore how they might help us do this. For example, The Power of Partnership, edited by Lucy Mercer-Mapstone and Sophia Abbot, included chapters in various genres, such as reflection, poetry, dialog, and illustration. What Teaching Looks Like included over 200 documentary photographs of teaching and learning spaces. Both of these books would have been difficult to fit within the more traditional expectations of many academic book publishers.

Production Process and Timelines

One final difference between the two series is who our authors work with through the book production process. Once our series editors (Jessie Moore and Peter Felten) approve manuscripts in our Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching, the manuscripts are sent to Routledge, where they go through further editorial approval from their editorial board. Authors/editors then work with a production team at Routledge through copy edits and proofs.

For books in our Open Access Book Series, we manage the entire production process in-house here at CEL. So authors will hear from me (Jennie Goforth, CEL’s managing editor) about copy editing and page proofs. The production timeline is similar for both series, generally about 6 months from final manuscript to completed book, depending on the number of books already in the queue.

If you have questions about either series, please reach out to me at We are accepting proposals for both series now! Proposal guidelines are on the CEL website: Open Access and Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching.

Jennie Goforth is the Center for Engaged Learning’s Managing Editor. She works with authors to shepherd their work from proposal through production in the Center’s Open Access Book Series. She also manages production of book websites and supplemental materials for the Stylus Publishing/Center for Engaged Learning Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching.

How to Cite This Post

Goforth, Jennie. 2024. “CEL’s Book Series: Similarities and Differences.” Center for Engaged Learning (blog), Elon University. January 9, 2024.