What's at Stake in Scholarly Communications?
Scholarly communication is at the core of academic inquiry.
For scholars to conduct their research they need reasonable
access to authoritative publications where knowledge within
a given field is circulated. In turn, scholars need to be
able to publish their own work in such a way that it contributes
in a timely and authoritative way to the academic conversations
within their fields.
Ironically, at a time when information technology and Internet
tools are greatly expanding possibilities for scholarship,
there exists a crisis
in scholarly communication
, a breakdowm in the productive
exchange of academic knowledge. This crisis is due to the
escalating costs of academic journals (especially in the sciences),
diminishing support for academic presses, and the lack of
clear standards for structuring, accessing, protecting, and
evaluating emerging modes of digital scholarship.
What is at stake?
Universities are finding themselves unable to afford the journals
or databases needed by researchers to perform their scholarship.
Research is also threatened by the impermanence of electronic
resources, either on the Internet or within an institution
which may at some point discontinue subscription to a given
electronic resource (see Economic
Academic presses are closing or printing fewer scholarly monographs,
reducing publishing outlets for scholars. At the same time,
electronic publishing remains an unestablished alternative,
deepening the problem. (See Alternative
Intellectual property is being reinvented in the digital age,
centering around the issue of who retains control of scholarly
works, especially if these are repurposed into or rely upon
electronic forms. Will copyright or contract law regulate
digital scholarly works? As scholars collaborate more and
begin hosting their work in institutional repositories, who
will own or control scholarly property?. (See Intellectual
Scholars' reputations and careers are at risk if they are
unable to publish, or if their publications within new modes
of electronic scholarship are not properly reviewed by peers
or appropriately evaluated and rewarded within tenure and
promotion. Similarly, academic institutions endanger accreditation
and recruitment of faculty or students if their faculty are
unable to publish or to have their electronic publications
recognized. (See Evaluation