“opportunities abound”

September 10th, 2004 by Ross Scaife

Herbert Van de Sompel, Sandy Payette, John Erickson, Carl Lagoze, and Simeon Warner, Rethinking Scholarly Communication: Building the System that Scholars Deserve, D-Lib Magazine, September 2004. Excerpt:

There is growing dissatisfaction with the established scholarly communication system. This dissatisfaction is the result of a variety of factors including rapidly rising subscription prices, concerns about copyright, latency between results and their actual publication, and restrictions on what can be published and how it can be disseminated. The result is a global debate on how to remedy the system’s deficiencies, and that debate has inspired concrete initiatives aimed at reforming the process. These are concerned mainly with access issues and seek to alleviate two longstanding problems. The first, known as the “serials crisis,” addresses the often prohibitive prices of journal publications that impede access to scholarly materials. The second, known as the “permissions crisis,” addresses the restrictions on use of publications once access has been obtained. The “Open Access” movement focuses primarily on these two problems with two different strategies. The self-archiving school strives for a scholar’s right to make traditional journal publications freely available in an open repository. The journal-reform school promotes the emergence of new types of journals that are free at the point of use.

While the open availability of the results of scholarly endeavors is indeed of fundamental importance to the future of scholarship, it is only one dimension of how the scholarly communication process can be transformed. As Geneva Henry has observed, opportunities abound in the world of 21st century publishing and the discussion on transforming scholarly communication must move beyond the debate of subscription-based vs. open access publication. [...]

Our vision is based on our belief that the future scholarly communication system should closely resemble—and be intertwined with—the scholarly endeavor itself, rather than being its after-thought or annex. We consider in this article the aspects of the established system that constrain the scholarly endeavor. Based on those considerations, we describe the desired technological characteristics of a future system of scholarly communication. We argue for a scholarly communication system composed of an interoperability substrate allowing flexible composition of the value-adding services that up to now have been vertically locked in the journal publication milieu. In this loosely coupled system, the units of scholarly communication (i.e., data, simulations, informal results, preprints, etc.) could follow a variety of scholarly value chains in which each hub provides a service such as registering results, certifying their validity, alerting scholars to new claims and findings, preserving the scholarly record, and ultimately rewarding scholars for their work.

Hat tip to Peter Suber for this one.

Comments are closed.