In the recent past, scholarly artifacts were validated by the peer-reviewed vehicles of publication (monographs, edited volumes, journal articles), authorial affiliation with a university or research institution, narrowly-defined impact factors, and the publication agencies themselves. Today, all of these "validation tests" are in flux. Scholarly artifacts may include WordPress blogposts, YouTube videos, Tweets, software applications and scientific datasets.
Scholarly communication is a blanket term that covers the factors that govern the creation of scholarly artifacts, their validation, dissemination and preservation. In addition to academic freedom and academic integrity, growing numbers of academics and researchers add another ethical imperative to scholarly communication, that it should contribute to a common societal good by making information freely available through open access publication, an “information commons.” The 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.
With the changing landscape of scholarly artifacts comes a host of challenges which impact JMU faculty and students:
· long-term preservation of non-print scholarly artifacts, particularly those rendered through "new media" technologies;
· intellectual property rights, including copyright and licensing;
· fair use of open access resources;
· authorial definition of highly collaborative artifacts, like a WordPress website for an academic course, or a partially crowdsourced research project;
· legitimation of non-print scholarly artifacts in the eyes of academic peers, notably but by no means limited to the digital humanities;
· publication in institutional and disciplinary repositories versus prestige academic presses;
· the economics of the dissemination of scholarship through unsustainable subscription models;
· how to choose an appropriate publication platform, and how to avoid “predatory” publishers;
· importance of altmetrics for my field of research;
· funding sources for attending conferences and subventing publications