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What is scholarly communication?
Academics, scholars, and researchers share their research work with others or publish the same for the benefit of others in the academic community. This exchange of academic writing is called scholarly communication. It is possible through formal channels like books, peer-reviewed journals, indexes, conference proceedings, reports, patents, standards, institutional repositories, and databases or through informal/unpublished channels like preprints, websites, blogs, email, conversations, or invisible colleges. The arts and humanities fields include multimedia file formats as well.
Scholarly communication is an important cyclic process where we generate, review, disseminate, acquire, preserve, discover, assess, and assimilate content. This leads to advances in scholarship by generating more content, thus perpetuating the cycle.
Why is it essential?
Researchers need a reliable method to disseminate research findings to others in the scholarly community that allows others to review, reuse, and re-create the data and not just have access to view the material. Broader reach means more people can use the same findings and build upon them. This is how we advance as a society. The academic output of scholars is judged by the number of publications and where they are published. A positive reputation from scholarly credits often fetches funds or grants.
Peer review is mandatory for all journals; it raises the quality of research that is disseminated. A journal cannot publish all the manuscripts that are submitted, and peer review acts as a filtration method. Preprint servers screen submissions to check their authenticity and suitability before publishing. When sharing research data, authors ensure that it is properly de-identified or anonymized in the case of research with identifying information of individuals without compromising the potential for future research developments.
Commercial control has resulted in a surge in the subscription rate of academic journals, especially those of scientific, technical, and medical fields. Libraries do not have sufficient funds to acquire the licensing of such high-priced scholarly publications for their members. University presses also suffer economically. Further, access to academic research papers is restricted by licenses and copyright issues in subscription publications. Authors transfer their copyrights to for-profit publishers in subscription-model journals. Federally funded researches are not made public. This has affected the scholarship base heavily.
The digitalization of academic publishing has made scholarly communication more efficient. This has significantly increased communication between scholars, resulting in more quality research being published and recognized. Libraries still play a critical role in dissemination, but now digital versions are more.
Recent trends point to a transition to open access scholarly publishing to make scholarship affordable by all and for all. Scholarly publishing plays a major role in communications, and hence, the open access business model is necessary to facilitate this. Open access provides freedom to access, reuse, and retain research papers with Creative Commons licensing. Go green with e-publications, but Go Gold with open access.
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