Scholarly communications is a blanket term that covers factors governing the creation of scholarly artifacts, their validation by disciplinary experts, and their dissemination and preservation in relation to the values of the academy and the various fields and disciplines within it. In addition to issues of academic freedom and academic integrity, growing numbers of scholars and researchers add another ethical imperative to scholarly communications: that it should contribute to a common societal good by making information as freely available as possible. This is often done through open access publication, the creation by the academy of an “information commons.” Economic, technological, and cultural models that can sustain the reality of an information commons are very much works in progress. JMU, like every other progressive institution of higher learning, is in the crucible of this experiment.
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 artifacts come with a host of challenges for scholars: