Changes in Scholarly Communication

This OCLC Research Library Partnership activity is exploring recent changes in modes and emphases of scholarly communication, changes which reflect a shifting center of gravity from the journal-centric model to alternatives (e.g., deposit in repositories for open access), the trend toward collaborations that go beyond institutional boundaries, and scholars' embrace of social media. An initial project examined the sustainability of disciplinary repositories, an important component of the shared infrastructure supporting networked scholarship. A second project characterized the evolving scholarly record so that libraries can better understand their role in creating, curating and coordinating the process and products of research.



Scholarly communication is one of the cornerstones of academia. Its development over recent decades has, for the most part, centered around peer-reviewed journal articles. An ecosystem of journal publishers, abstracting and indexing services, and other support providers has developed. The networked world in which researchers now work has allowed for other patterns to emerge. The Open Access movement is providing an alternative to the journal-centric model. The connection that researchers have always felt with others in their field is increasingly manifesting itself in direct collaborations that ignore institutional boundaries. New modes of communicating (blogs, e-mail lists, Twitter and so forth) are flourishing.


The goal of this work is to help libraries find new ways to support their institutions' research mission, contribute to scholarly communications, and align institutional collecting strategies with changes in the broader scholarly information landscape. We welcome suggestions for other activities.


There is much discussion about the changes in scholarly communication and the resulting effects on the scholarly record, but these discussions have been fragmented. OCLC Research developed a framework for discussing the evolving scholarly record. The scope and nature of the scholarly record is changing in the networked environment. A static, print- and outcome-focused definition must be expanded to reflect dynamic, digital- and process-focused means of scholarly discourse.

We seek to delineate the boundaries of the evolving scholarly record and to explore roles necessary for its production, dissemination and long-term stewardship. Our larger goal is to cultivate a shared understanding of the evolving scholarly record and its diverse stakeholder ecosystem. We hope our general, consensus-driven framework can organize and support a variety of conversations within and across domains by providing shared concepts and terminology.

This framework will help us and others to understand how evolving modes of scholarly production are altering organizational roles and relationships. It is a necessary first step toward developing efficient and sustainable solutions and roles related to the scholarly record and will provide a shared view around which a variety of discussions can coalesce. We believe the framework can facilitate conversations around topics such as the future of scholarly publishing, open access, stewardship, and academic credentialing. 

After seeking commentary from expert advisors and revising the framework, we published The Evolving Scholarly Record report detailing the revised framework in mid 2014.

The Evolving Scholarly Record and the Evolving Stewardship Ecosystem Workshops

A series of workshops is being held in 2014 -2015 to discuss the implications of the framework, the changing roles of stakeholders, and new relationships required to collectively steward the evolving scholarly record.

Additional workshops are scheduled in Chicago on 23 March and in San Francisco on 2 June 2015.  Watch the OCLC Research Events page for more details.


Related Work

This activity is a part of the theme,  Advancing the Research Mission, and is related to the following activities:


Most recent updates: Page content: 2014-12-19


Brian Lavoie

Team Members

Jennifer SchaffnerEric Childress

Jennifer SchaffnerRicky Erway

Ixchel Faniel

Constance Malpas

Jennifer Schaffner

Titia van der Werf

This activity is a part of the Advancing the Research Mission theme.