Scholarly communications include the creation, transformation, publishing or dissemination, usage and preservation of information or knowledge related to teaching, research and scholarly endeavors in whatever format, along with the tools and systems needed to do so.
Among the many issues included under this umbrella are author and intellectual property rights, new models of publishing including open access, the economics of scholarly resources, institutiional repositories, rights and access to government-funded research, and long-term preservation of intellectual assets.
The "Crisis in Scholarly Communications" is generally associated with the pressures placed on the scholarly communications system due to the explosion in the amount and cost of information. In recent years, a number of factors have contributed to this situation, including those listed below:
- Producing research results often requires years of work and funding, which scholarly institutions must then pay traditional publishers to acquire when they have done little more than copy edit documents for publication.
- Journal costs have consistently risen about inflation, with commercial publishers having established a highly profitabl niche for themselves in the scholarly communications chain.
- The high cost of journals, coupled with the increased number of titles available (often "twigging" established journals into many smaller sub-specialties), have led to universities not being able to subscribe to titles they require.
- Those not asssociated with research institutions are increasingly unable to access current research.
- Funders and tax payers do not have access to the research they pay for, often because faculty rewards such as tenure and promotion are based on publication output and many scholars are unaware or indifferent to to rights issues which transfer rights to commercial publishers.
- As traditional publishing moves to "online" only, preservation is becoming a major issue, particularly as publishers license materials (with contracts) rather than selling the item (with the accompanying "rights of first sale" which allow the fair use and lending of content.
- Studies have shown that making research easier to access and use will make research itself more efficient and increase the amount and quality of the research output.
- The Internet has allowed the creation of new and low cost methods to disseminate research, while still maintaining a "peer review" process to ensure the quality of research is maintained.
- Developments such as "open access" to research documents and the creation of "subject or institutional repositories" are seen as vehicles for changing the tradtional methods of disseminating scholarly information.
The many factors creating the scholarly communication crisis also effect teaching and research. Some of the areas of concern are as follows:
The major stakeholders in scholarly communication include the following: