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Scholarly Communications

A brief overview of the field of Scholarly Communication.

Scholarly Communications

Scholarly communications begins with the process of creating the work itself (the research, analysis, writing, collaboration) and continues through the production, distribution, and evaluation of that work. In order to consider the totality of the scholarly communication enterprise, one must also consider its sustainability (ACRL, 2019). The work may exist in print or digital formats and may or may not be textual.

The Landscape

Scholarly artifacts have been long understood to include items like monographs, edited volumes, and journal articles. In addition, many disciplines are expanding their consideration of scholarly artifacts to include new and emerging media. These remain validated for quality by the peer review of relevant experts and measures defined by institutions and scholarly disciplines. Other considerations have traditionally included authorial affiliation with a university or research institution and the credibility and scholar-recognized quality of the publication agencies themselves. 

New technologies and changes in the research and dissemination landscape for scholarly works come with a host of challenges for scholars: 

  • complex intellectual property rights, including copyright and licensing, open access, and the fair use of scholarly resources;
  • how to choose an appropriate publication platform, and avoid “predatory” publishers;
  • funding sources for sharing research more openly;
  • long-term preservation of non-print scholarly artifacts, particularly those rendered through emerging technologies;
  • uncertainty with respect to new forms of digital scholarly works in the eyes of academic peers, notably but by no means limited to the digital humanities;
  • evolving policies at academic presses, and possibilities for publication in institutional and disciplinary repositories;
  • the economics of the dissemination of scholarship through unsustainable subscription-based models that place pressures on libraries and scholarly presses;
  • the importance of metrics and journal impact factors for particular fields of research