The role of the academic library in contemporary[1]


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  • In this presentation I’m going to give a brief, but hopefully comprehensive overview of scholarly communication as it exists today, then move on to highlight some of the key challenges facing the creators and consumers of scholarly research, and finally talk about some of the solutions to these challenges that libraries can offer the academic community.
  • In traditional thinking, scholarly communication, or more accurately scholarly publishing, referred almost exclusively to journals. According to a 2009 study, [CLICK] aprox 24,000 scholarly journals were being actively published in scientific disciplines throughout the world. This amounted to [CLICK] nearly 1.5 millinois scholarly articles being produced. If this seems like an overwhleming number, in today’s evolving world of scholarly research, those journal articles represent only a small piece of the pie. What we’re seeing is a shift from scholarlty publishing, as defined by these journal articles, to scholarly communication, a significant semantic change that illustrates the dynamic nature of emerging scholarship.
  • The traditional system of academic publishing followed a decidedly cyclical path, one based on the needs and conersn of scholarlship during the 19th century. A scholar would first gather his or her data, conduct research, devises a thesis, etc., putting everything together in a single, static document that would then be submitted to a journal. The article would undergo a rigourous peer review process, and, if accepted, would be published in an issue of that journal, usually one of 4-6 produced each year. That issue would be distributed to libraries and other subscribing institutiotns, where other scholars would read the article, which might or might not go on to inform their own research. This process was and is slow moving, taking as long as 18 months between submission and publicationand, as a result, creates a “monologue” model of research. By the time the writer gets a scholarly response to the article, he or she has already moved on to a new research project.This is obviously on oversimplification, but it suggests some of the inherent problems with a cyclical model, especially when faced with a culture of constant, and integrated communication such as we live in today. This model represents a 19th century mentality, that is very much at odds with our 21st century needs.
  • As a result of this cultural shift, defined by digital communication such as texting, twitter, facebook, etc., where communication is instant, and synergetic.The scholarly communication model that is starting to emerge within this culture is, rather than a forward moving cycle, an organic mechanism, wherein each aspect of the system effects every other aspect. [CLICK]In this model, research leads to discussion, which then effects the research before publication. Once the research has been published, however, the discussion is able to continue immediately. This process can be completely digital, with every part of the discussion archived along with the article itself, creating an instantaeous, real-time dialogue about a research project.
  • The cultural shift effecting this emerging model goes beyond the mere means of publication and dissemination. Another key component to the dialogue nature of scholarly communication is the increased emphasis on cross-disciplinary discussion.This graphic illustrates only a small segment of scholarly publications, those articles classified as “social science.” The orange circles represent the various discpilnes underneath that heading, and the blue lines showing the cross-discpline citations. The larger and darker the cirl, the bigger the publication output. The thicker and darker the blue line, the more citatations between discplines. For example, most researchers would expect to see a large number of cross-disciplinary citations between psychology and physciatry. More surprising is the relatively large nunmber of management articles citing psychology, and health care articles citing economics. Even relatively small fields, such as comparative linguistics and physical anthropology are finding their way into research in fields as disparate as psychology and history.If we were to add a map for hard sciences, the cross-overs between, for example phsyciatry and neuroscience, or anthropology and paleontology would likely be some of the thickest lines on the chart.So what does this illustrate? For one, it gives a pretty good idea of just how much is being published. But more illuminating is the fact that no discipline, even the tiniest and most seemingly obscure, stands alone in modern scholarship. This inncreasing interconnectivity is one of the major factors leading from a flat system of scholarly publishing to a dynamic system of scholarly communication.
  • Of course, we all realize that, despite the culture of instant communication we live in, and the scholarly community’s increased focus on interdisciplinary research, many researchers still function within that old cyclical model.Some of the key challenges that are contributing to this gap between creator and user needs, and the actual functionality of publishing include[CLICK]Uneven adoption: the level to which different institutions, and even different departments within the same institution adopts new forms of communication and tools varies widely.{CLICK]Inconsistent knowledge base: somewhat related to that is the braod range of knowledge researchers have about different aspects of scholarly communication. Some researchers are completely up to date on self-archiving, open access journals, and disciplinary repository response forums, and capable of obtaining their own licenses for their works. Others certainly aren’t.[CLICK]Lack of comprehensive communication: one challenge that in many ways causes both that uneen rate of adoption and the inconsistent knowledge among researchers and scholars is the lack of any comprehensive tool to communicate emerging trends, new tools, and changing legislation.[CLICK]And finally, Murky copyright legislation causes an untold number of frustrations for those interested in pursuing new modes of scholarly communication. Recent lawsuits in Georgia and California have questioned the definition of fair use, and the tradition of handing all rights to an article over to the publisher have served to confuse many scholars about their right to publish their work in non-traditional forums.
  • UnBefore moving on to talk about some of the ways that library’s can bridge these gaps, I want to look a little more closely at the first challenge, uneven adoption. This chart shows the results of a very quick, surface study of journla publishing acrrossdiscplines. It compares the number of OA journals published in a handful of random disciplines to the number of journals published by major for-profit publishers Reed-elseveer and wiley-blackwell. For some of these disciplines, such as economics and political science, there’s a pretty even divide btw. OA and for-profit.
  • Looking more closely at a few specific disciplines, we see that business and management [CLICK] maintains a fairly even divide between OA and FP. This is fairly typical of publications in the social scieneces. One SS, however, really stands out for its embrace of OA. [CLICK] Law publications visibly skew to OA.Even more illuminating is [CLICK] education, which has been one fo the widest adopters of OA, with aprox ¾ of their pubs coming out in OA journals. Compare this to the sciences, which tends to stay firmly entrenched in FP publishing. Surgery [CLICK] for example, is almost the complete opposite of education, with only slightly more than 25% of their scholarly research coming out in OA journals.We can assume that the addition of not-for-profit subscription based publishers would certainly skew these numbers a bit, but over all, we get a basic pictures of the disciplines that embrace OA vs. those that don’t.This divide, even amongst different departments in the same universities, is one of the biggest hindrances to major changes in the adoption of new publication models.
  • So where does the library fit in? The university library is in a key position to bridge many of these gaps through instruciton and educcation.[CLICK] by engaging with faculty in both formal instructional sessions teaching new tools, such as self-archiving, disciplinary repository discussion forums, and licensing services such as creative commons, we might be able to help move some discplines forward in embracing new methods of scholarly communication, while improving the general knowledge base of the faculty. Additionally, informal, one-on-one, or committee based education can help the library to form a stronger understanding of faculty needs and concerns, while re-inforcing the instruction imparted in sessions.[CLICK] Faculty instruction is vital, since their understanding of emerging trends in scholarly communication will help to inform their students’ knowledge in the area, but the library should also plan to actively engage graduate students in scholarly communication isntruction, teaching them how to work with the institutional repository if there is one, how to use creative commons licensing, and how to look outside the traditional, subscription based journals for resources when doing their own research.[CLICK] To reinforce the form and informal instruction, the library should also create online guides and FAQs covering these emerging tools and trends.
  • This final point goes hand in hand with the second solution path I’m suggesting, which is the creation of an online scholarly communication hub. In the vein of Duke University’s Scholarly Communication’s blog, this site would be [CLICK] a forum for communication, where the library could share new tools, information about emerging copyright legislation, and highlight new open access journals and discipluinary repositories such as ARCHIVE and Philipa, and post-publication discussion spaces such as F1000.[CLICK] This site could also serve as an institutional newsletter, informing faculty and administration about the scholarly research activities going on in the unversity, especially those that fall outside the realm of traditional journal publishing.[CLICK] and finally, the site could serve as a portal to websites such as Creative commons, disciplinary repositories, and other emerging online tools that faculty may otherwise not be aware of.
  • Finally, the third solution path is the creation of an institutional archive. IN the past, Irs have primarily functioned as archiving and preservation tools [CLICK]. But the new digital repository, as exemplified by Deep Blue at the University of Michigan, IDEALS at UIUC, and Knowledge Bank at OSU, goes far beyond. Preservation of the university’s scholarly output is still a goal, but this goal is suplpemented by an increased focus on{CLICK] Interdisciplinary work, that emphasizes connections between research outside the formal boundaries of department.[CLICK]Collaboration. Emerging Irs include forums for discussion, and methods of linking research together that emphasizes the dialogue nature of the new model of scholarly communication.[CLICK] The self-archiving process offered by Irs helps scholars take the first steps to retaining control of their research. Though it does not garuntee them control of future publications based on the uploaded material, it does ensure that they have permanent access to any research they upload. An IR can also give a research control over who can access certain parts of the research, helping to allay concerns about uploading sensitive scholarship.[CLICK] Irs such as Deep Blue and IDEALS emphasize the comprehensive nature of their archives, which allows scholars to upload data in many formats, as well as any amount of material relative to the research, outside the definitions of traditional scholarly research. This is another way Irs contribute to the “dialogue” nature of scholarly communication.[CLICK] finally, emerging IRS also allow research ers to promote, share, and even, to an extent, market their research. They have the ability to share pre-publicaiton research with colleagues, and others who might be able to make valuable contriutions to their work, ensuring a wider audience than most can hope for through the old publication model alone.
  • I’d like to end with a quote from john willinsky’s 2005 book “The Access Princliple.” [READ] Scholarly communication, as it is emerging amid today’s culture of instant communcation and interactive dialogue, needs help to push beyond its traditional boundaries. The university library plays a key role in ensuring that the scholarly community has access to the tools and information they need to enter into the emerging world of scholarly communication.
  • The role of the academic library in contemporary[1]

    1. 1. SCHOLARLYCOMMUNICATION The university library’s role in a changing landscape Samantha Woodson March 19, 2012
    2. 2. WHAT IS SCHOLARLYCOMMUNICATION? “[T]he system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated forquality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use.” --Association of College and Research Libraries ( • 24,000 scholarly journals • 1.5 million scholarly articles
    3. 3. OLD MODEL Research/ Write Read Submit Publish/ Peer Distribute Review
    4. 4. EMERGING MODEL Research Discuss Publish
    5. 5. Bergstrom lab, University of Washington. (2004). [Map of the social sciences]. Eigenfactor.Retrieved from
    6. 6. CHALLENGES Uneven adoption Inconsistent knowledge base Lack of comprehensive communication Murky copyright legislation
    7. 7. 100 200 300 400 600 500 0 Agriculture Anthropology CardiovascularChemical Engineering Chemistry (General) Economics Education DISCIPLINES Gynecology and… Law Library and… Linguistics Mathematics Microbiology Nursing Oncology Organic Chemistry OPEN ACCESS ACROSS Physics (General) Political Science Psychology Surgery for-profit Open Access
    8. 8. Business andManagement Law Open Open Access Access Journals Journals For-Profit For-Profit Journals Journals Education Surgery Open Open Access Access Journals Journals For-Profit For-Profit Journals Journals
    9. 9. SOLUTION PATH:INSTRUCTION & EDUCATION Engage with faculty in formal and informal instruction Offer instructional sessions in scholarly publishing to graduate students Create online guides to self-archiving, emerging tools, and licensing
    10. 10. SOLUTION PATH:ONLINE SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATIONHUB Forum for communication Inform faculty and administration about colleagues’ and library’s scholarly communication activities Portal to tools
    11. 11. SOLUTION PATH:INSTITUTIONAL REPOSITORY Preservation Interdisciplinary Collaborative Control Comprehensive Promotional
    12. 12. “A commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit by it.” –John Willinsky, The Access Principle (MIT Press, 2005)
    13. 13. REFERENCESAssociation of College and Research Libraries. (2003). Principles and strategies for thereform of scholarly communication. Retrieved from lab, University of Washington. (2004). [Map of the social sciences]. Eigenfactor.Retrieved from, B. C., Lauri, M., Roos, A. (2009). Scientific journal publishing: Yearlyvolume andopen accessavailability. Information Research, 14 (1). Retrieved from, J. (2005). The access principle: The case for open access to research andscholarship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.