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Information in this page was reviewed and approved by legal counsel. Please see disclaimer. Review date: January 2009 .

Scholarly Communication & Copyright

The term scholarly communication has traditionally referred to the cycle of creation and dissemination of research and published works in academia. The library acquires books and journals to support faculty research. Faculty use these materials to produce increasingly sophisticated drafts, conference papers, pre-prints, peer-reviewed journal articles, and books. The library acquires those new materials to complete the cycle and stimulate new work.

Today the crisis in scholarly communication refers to the breakdown of that cycle. University faculty members create new work, then give it away free to publishers who resell it back to the university at sometimes exhorbitant prices that libraries cannot sustain. Arguably, the old model is collapsing and new models must emerge. A Web page on the Scholarly Communication issue has further details.

One important strategy focuses on improving authors' retention of their rights when they publish. This allows authors to control subsequent distribution of their work (including for teaching, research, discussion, and local archiving) and may help reduce publishers' monopoly over certain kinds of information.

Other strategies include the following:
  1. Professional choices. Authors, reviewers, editors, and professional organizations can decline to provide material for "offending" publishers, or choose to publish in open access journals or more reasonably priced journals.

  2. Serials pricing. Libraries increasingly turn to consortial arrangements or choose between print and electronic access to mitigate rising costs of journals.

  3. Alternative publishing models. Some libraries and universities are hosting new publishing venues (often digital), including institutional repositories. (See DigitalCommons@UConn and its copyright statement.)

  4. Open access. Publications are made available for free, usually on the Internet, with funding coming from sources other than subscriptions, such as scholarly organization or institutional sponsorship, memberships, etc.
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