Scholarly Communication and Library Collections

The choices that researchers and librarians make today to develop library collections will affect the availability of scholarly research and the terms under which it can be used both now and in the future. The present cycle of renewing costly journals and licensing databases that restrict usage perpetuate the present model of scholarly communication. At the same time, new technologies provide scholars with opportunities to address these problems. Only if scholars make choices that return control of costs and access terms to the community of scholarly authors and readers will these problems be addressed.

The publishing model that "scholarly communication" refers to can be described by a simple example. Faculty member X, funded by Auburn University and grant funding, reports on research in an article published in Brain Research. X signs control of the article over to the publishers of Brain Research and is not paid by the publisher for this article; in some cases, X may actually pay the publisher. The publisher of Brain Research then sell X's article and other similar research back to Auburn University for $16,000 per year.

While many publishers are reluctant to alter this arrangement, universities have good reason to change this publishing model. At stake is reasonable access to research results: the university library that spent $10 million for journals in 1986 would have had to spend $55.8 million in 1998 to provide the same proportion of journal literature. Alternative publishing initiatives, alternative language in manuscript contracts, alternative archiving arrangements: these issues and many others are the issues referred to by the term "scholarly communication." Each is directed at changing the current model of scholarly communication. The links below provide additional information about these issues.

Resources for Action

Create Change
An educational initiative that encourages scholars’ active participation in shaping scholarly communication.  Developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

Retaining Authors Rights & Negotiating Publishing Agreements
A resource for negotiating the terms of a publishing agreement for authors who wish to ensure open access to their work.

Before you publish:
Check the subscription price of a journal before submitting a manuscript.  Your subject librarian can help with this.

Principles

The Tempe Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Communication
Principles that seek to contain costs, expedite publication, and ensure open access to scholarly publications. An initiative of the Association of American Universities, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Merrill Advanced Studies Center of the University of Kansas.

Principles for Licensed Electronic Resources
Principles to guide librarians in contract negotiations with vendors of databases and electronic journals. Endorsed by the Association of Research Libraries and other national organizations.

Initiatives

BioOne
A full-text database of high-impact journals in the biological and ecological sciences, sponsored by Auburn University and its national partners. See Adrian Alexander and Marilu Goodyear, Changing the Role of Research Libraries in Scholarly Communication", The Journal of Electronic Publishing, V.5:3, March 2000.

Gutenberg-e
The Gutenberg-e prize is a collaborative effort between Columbia University Press and the American Historical Association, committed to exploring and promoting the electronic publication of scholarly writing.

Public Library of Science
"Publiclibraryofscience.org was established to organize support within the scientific community for online public libraries of science, providing unrestricted free access to the archival record of scientific research. Scientists can express their support for this effort by signing an open letter. 3664 scientists from 75 countries have already signed. Your support will help us to persuade the publishers of scientific journals to commit to giving their archival material to the public domain for distribution through online public libraries."

SPARC: The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
A world-wide alliance of research institutions (including Auburn University and the Auburn University Libraries), and other organizations that encourages competition in the scholarly communications market.

David Shulenburger, "Moving with Dispatch to Resolve the Scholarly Communication Crisis: From Here to NEAR," October 16, 1998.
A proposal for a national electronic article repository for scholarly publications.

Background Information on Scholarly Communications: Crisis and Reform

Journal Costs: Current Trends & Future Scenarios for 2020. ARL Newsletter, June 2000.
The most recent data supplied by the member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries document the continuing rise of serial costs. While ARL libraries spent 2.7 times more money for serials in 1998-99 compared to 1985-86, they bought 6% fewer serial titles. Projecting the average annual rates of change into the future, the median ARL library will be paying $1,632 for a journal subscription and $107 for a monograph in 2020. Such a library will lose purchasing power, buying 16% fewer serials compared to 1986 and 54% fewer monographs.

To Publish and Perish.

Policy Perspectives: Co-sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of American Universities, and the Pew Higher Education Roundtable. Special Issue, March 1998.

Stanley Chodorow, "Scholarship & Scholarly Communication in the Electronic Age," Educause Review, January/February 2000.

ARL Office for Scholarly Communication.

For Further Information

Consult the AU Libraries' Subject Specialist for your program.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2015