Regain Control of Scholarly Communication
The current model of scholarly communication has become economically unsustainable, restrictive, and increasingly limited in its ability to make information accessible.
While universities are facing smaller budgets and increasing volumes of scholarly materials, the cost of scholarly journals has increased exponentially. While some of the cost increase is due to the higher costs of traditional print publishing, there is also a consolidation of commercial publishers that seek to maximize profits from the international, multi-billion dollar business of scholarly communication.
Traditional publishing models also limit the consumers of scholarly publication to those who can afford to pay the exorbitant prices. The University of California's scholarly outputs, including the results of faculty research, are therefore not reaching their potential impact. Even if UC's world-class library collections could keep up economically in such conditions, there are other reasons to consider and influence an evolution in scholarly communication systems.
Digital and network technologies enable scholarship of all sorts to be made available to more readers, more quickly, and at economically sustainable costs. Through careful experimentation and management, the critical features of the scholarly communication system, such as quality control, long-term preservation, and measures of impact and use, are certain to be retained in a new system.
Stakeholders Are Making a Difference
A wide range of stakeholders are working to reshape scholarly communication, including libraries, University faculty and administration, and publishers.
The UC libraries are constantly analyzing the economics of the current model of scholarly publishing, and are working with faculty to better align cost with value in the materials they purchase. They are also working with the UC Press and others to create and host experiments in scholarly publishing. Finally, as suggested by their faculty and administrative advisory groups, they are assembling as much information about the challenges and opportunities as possible. See the UC libraries' scholarly communication program for more information.
University administration and faculty governance are also re-thinking institutional policies and commitments. See the University Committee on Libraries and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC).
Library organizations are gathering data and providing support via conferences, forums, papers, blogs, and initiatives. Some examples are:
- The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, works on provides information and assistance to its members.
- The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) provides news, data, and studies related to scholarly communication.
- SPARC – the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition – offers practical guides for authors, libraries, administrators and publishers, including an author contract addendum.
As scholars, you add most of the value to scholarly communication by creating, filtering, and consuming scholarship. You can help create and support alternatives to the present system, and increase the reach and impact of your scholarship.
What you can do:
- Negotiate with publishers to retain certain copyrights, e.g., the right to post your work in an institutional repository or distribute copies to your classes.
- Use alternative publishing options, such as UC's eScholarship, which offers UC faculty a central location for publishing a variety of scholarly output.
- Support sustainable scholarly communication by wielding your influence with publishers.