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Publishing, Scholarly Communications, and Open Access

Scholarly Communication

Scholarly communication "is the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use" (ACRL - Association of College & Research Libraries).

Scholarly Communications in Crisis

What are the problems with the current scholarly communication system?

The longstanding scholarly communication system has functioned effectively for centuries. So, why are there concerns? The catalyst for concern lies in recent changes brought about by technological advancements like computing and the internet. Technology allows us to conduct research and publish in ways that were not possible before. These changes have revolutionized communication, learning, and sharing, while often times monetizing access to information.   

Scholarly Communication in Crisis

The formal system of scholarly communication is showing numerous signs of stress and crisis. Throughout the second half of the 20th century commercial firms have assumed increasing control over the scholarly journals market, particularly in scientific, technical, and medical fields. The journal publishing industry has also become increasingly consolidated and is now dominated by a few international conglomerates. Prices for scholarly journals have risen at rates well above general inflation in the economy and also above the rate of increase of library budgets. Libraries have coped with price increases through a variety of strategies, including subscription cuts and reductions in monographic purchases. In addition, escalating prices have occurred at the same time that the quantity of scholarly information, including the number of scholarly journals, has increased substantially. The net effect of these changes has been a significant reduction in access to scholarship.  ACRL -

The Issues

The cost of journals are increasingly outpacing library budgets and limiting access to research. Copyright is also an issue as scholars relinquish control of their own work by signing over intellectual property rights. Dissatisfaction with the existing scholarly communication system has led to the development of new publishing models, including open access and digital repositories.

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Sandy DeGroote
Professor & Scholarly Communications Librarian