Scholarly Communication: Forthcoming Discussions
The current model for scholarly communication has evolved over time. It has shaped and been shaped by the needs and conveniences of the academy. In order to change current publishing structures, scholars will have to rethink a number of topics, including:
Setting boundaries on the commercialization of scholarly content: the scholarly community can have considerable influence on the publishers to whom they submit content. For more information on what faculty and institutions can and are doing, see Faculty Action / Support.
Promotion and tenure: many scholars seeking promotion and tenure understandably seek publication in the most prestigious journals. Unfortunately, many of these journals are products of publishers whose pricing practices are problematic. Some faculty also hold the belief that a great number of articles will enhance their chances for promotion, with an attendant rise in the number of journals needed to support this level of output. How can departments support their faculty in using alternative routes to promotion and tenure?
Securing grants: the credibility of scholarship has also been linked by some funding agencies to publication of results in prestigious journals that come with high price tags. Several funding agencies have recently made strong statements in support of alternative and more affordable mediums for sharing the results of research they have helped to fund (see Faculty Action / Support). How might faculty and academic institutions further influence funding agencies to acknowledge and support non-profit or open-access forums?
A proliferation of journals: statistics show that some core journals in every field have very high use, while an even greater number of journals have very little use. This raises the question of how many low-use titles the academy should try to support. Libraries hear faculty say that a number of existing titles are not essential to scholarship. How does the community (scholars, societies, libraries, and publishers) determine how to support new journals in emerging fields of study, while controlling the overall number of journals seen as crucial to scholarship?
The preference to publish articles in print: although scholars report a preference for accessing information electronically, there is considerable evidence that scholars still prefer to place their work with publishers who (also) produce print. The pressure, then, is for libraries to pay twice for the same content in different formats. The community needs to better understand the impact of this desire for content in multiple formats, and to address this as economically as possible.
Faculty's desire for quick publication with wide, free distribution: seven thousand faculty survey respondents cited these characteristics of a scholarly journal were most desirable: wide circulation (87%); archived indefinitely (75%); publishing an article should be free to the author (69%); journal should be free to readers (58%). (Source: Professors Are Unhappy with Limitations of Online Resources, Survey Finds, by Vincent Kiernan. The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2004.)
Faculty standards for making data available in support of published conclusions: electronic publishing provides the real possibility of making data available to support published findings. Scholars' standards for and expectations of data are being articulated within this new environment. For example, Tom Cech, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, chaired a National Academies committee to examine the responsibilties of authorship in the biological sciences. The committee published the results of their study in 2003.
Monographs and the university press: scholarship in the humanities has traditionally relied on monographs published by university presses. Does this model work and is it sustainable? What is the future of humanities scholarship? How will humanities scholars want to conduct scholarship and to present their findings? Is it reasonable to believe that publishing scholarly monographs can be sustained in a for-profit environment? What alternative models can be found to fund monograph publishing? For some thoughts on this topic, see:
Understanding the Economic Burden of Scholarly Publishing, by Cathy N. Davidson, Vice Provost for interdisciplinary studies and Professor of English, Duke University. Chronicle of Higher Education, issue dated October 3, 2003.
The Crisis in Scholarly Publishing in the Humanities, by John M. Unsworth, Associate Professor, Department of English, and Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. (PDF)
Remarks presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies.
The Future of Scholarly Publishing, MLA Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Scholarly Publishing, 2002. (PDF)
From their website:
UC Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004, includes almost 2,000 books from academic presses on a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction.
Access to the entire collection of electronic books is open to all University of California faculty, staff, and students, while more than 500 of the titles are available to the public. Print versions of many of the electronic books can be purchased directly from the publishers.
Note: This page is archival in nature and the content will not be updated. The links will be maintained as time permits.