Scholarly Communication at Carnegie Mellon University
Traditionally the term scholarly communication was narrowly defined as the system for disseminating scholarly work, primarily through journals. More recently the definition has been broadened to include the creation, transformation, dissemination and preservation of knowledge. It encompasses the entire process by which academics, scholars and researchers share and publish their findings within and beyond the academic community, and the entire gamut of publication types, from traditional journal articles, books and conference papers to sound and video recordings and interactive multimedia.
Scholarly communication is important because it supports those who engage in research and scholarship and thereby supports the advancement of knowledge. There is widespread belief that the traditional system for disseminating scholarship is in crisis. Current issues in scholarly communication include:
- Author Rights – Traditionally authors have transferred all of their copyrights to publishers and then had to request permission and sometimes pay to re-use their own work. To provide open access to their work, authors must retain the necessary rights. The Faculty Senate Open Access Resolution encourages faculty to retain the right to provide open access to their work.
- Economics of Scholarly Resources – For decades, the annual increase in the cost of journal subscriptions has far exceeded the rise in inflation. The high cost of journals and the increase in the number of journals have forced libraries to cancel subscriptions. Cancelled subscriptions have led publishers to raise prices. This spiral has resulted in a decline in access and readership. The situation in developing countries is dire. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system
- Open Access – The economics of scholarly resources and the proliferation of Internet technology have mobilized a grassroots movement to provide free (open) access to research and scholarship on the Web. Research shows that open access increases the impact of scholarly work. When negotiating copyright agreements with publishers, authors must retain the necessary rights to provide open access to their work. Research shows that open access increases the impact of scholarly work. The Carnegie Mellon Faculty Senate Open Access Resolution encourages faculty to provide open access to their work in keeping with publisher open access policies. SHERPA RoMEO and Open Access to Knowledge provide searchable databases of publisher open access policies.
- Access to Federally Funded Research – Taxpayers typically do not have access to the research funded by their tax dollars unless they pay for it again. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access lobbies for open access to the results of federally-funded research. Effective April 7, 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) adopted a mandatory Public Access Policy.
- Preservation of Intellectual Assets – In the analog world of print, libraries preserved books, journals, etc. by storing physical copies; if the publisher went out of business, the scholarly record remained in library collections. In a world where work is born digital and is only available online and access not ownership is the mode, the scholarly record is at great risk. Many projects are underway to solve the problems associated with digital preservation.
- Disciplinary and Institutional Repositories – In an effort to showcase, preserve and provide open access to digital intellectual assets, many disciplines and institutions are building repositories for authors to deposit their work. As of March 2011, there are thousands of open-access repositories worldwide. The Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) provides a list. In response to the Faculty Senate Central Repository Resolution, the University Libraries implemented an open-access repository named Research Showcase. The Central Repository Resolution encourages faculty to make their scholarly articles freely available via this repository.