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Digital Scholarship: Scholarly Communication

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What is Scholarly Communicatoin?

Scholarly communication can be thought of as the system through which research and scholarship is created, evaluated, distributed, and preserved. (Association of College & Research Libraries, Principles and Strategies for the Reform of Scholarly Communication 1.)

This system includes traditional or formal publications, such as scholarly journal articles, scholarly chapters or monographs, and conference proceedings, and continually emerging publications, such as data sets, data visualizations, working papers, and blogs or electronic listservs. 

The scholarly communication is frequently depicted as a lifecycle, documenting the steps involved in scholarly publishing. This guide offers additional resources on related issues, such as copyright, creative commons, and open access.

image of scholarly communication lifecycle

Copyright Basics

For a quick reference to copyright basics, refer to this document.

For a deeper understaning, check out the links below.

Example CC Lincense

After determining which Creative Commons license works best for you, create your license here.

Check out the example license below.

Open Access






Open Access (OA) stands for unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse. Here’s why that matters.

Most publishers own the rights to the articles in their journals. Anyone who wants to read the articles must pay to  access them. Anyone who wants to use the articles in any way must obtain permission from the publisher and is  often required to pay an additional fee.

 Although many researchers can access the journals they need via their institution and think that their access is free, in reality it is not. The institution has often been involved in lengthy negotiations around the price of their site license and re-use of this content is limited.

Paying for access to content makes sense in the world of print publishing, where providing content to each new reader requires the production of an additional copy, but online it makes much less sense to charge for content when it is possible to provide access to all readers anywhere in the world. To learn more about the case for open access, click on the Open Access image above.


Benefits of Open Access Research

  • Accelerated discovery. With open access, researchers can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.
  • Public enrichment. Much scientific and medical research is paid for with public funds. Open Access allows taxpayers to see the results of their investment.
  • Improved education. Open Access means that teachers and their students have access to the latest research findings throughout the world.

Open Access Resources

File:Creative commons.jpgCreative Commons License

To compliment the case and benefits of open access is licensing the work you produce. The Creative Commons copyright licenses are tools that forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. As the author of a work, you retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of your work through selecting a CC BY license. Every Creative Commons license also ensures the authors get the credit for their work. Learn more about how to use the six different license types to select which one is best for you. 


   The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition    (SPARC) are a catalyst for change towards open access across    scholarly disciplines.


Open Access Animated Video

Rather learn about Open Access in a short video by PhD Comics? Check this out.

Traditional Journals: Copyright Status

First Step) Consider checking a journal's copyright policy with the SHERPA/RoMEO Database:

  • to determine who retains the copyright after a work is published, the journal, publisher or the author;
  • if the journal has an addendum clause that allows authors to post published works in repositories for self-archiving purposes even if the publisher retains the copyright;
  • in preparation for negotiating with the publisher, by submitting an addendum clause of your own, to allow a work to be open access.

Second Step) Know Your Rights As The Author:

If your article has been accepted for publication in a journal and you want it to have the widest possible distribution and impact in the scholarly community, make sure your publication agreement doesn't restrict you from online archiving.

According to the traditional (non open access) publication agreements, all rights —including copyright — go to the journal.

But if you want to include sections of your article in later works; give copies to your class or distribute it among colleagues; place it on your web page or in an online repository, then those goals are inhibited by the traditional agreement.

Learn more about how to have a balanced approach to copyright management by visiting this SPARC page. Then you will understand how adding an author addendum to your publisher's agreement can help fulfill your goals as an author.

Finding a Publisher

Open access publishers are typically more generous with author rights.  The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) includes over 7,500 open access journals, browsable by subject.

The Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) is a global association of repository initiatives with over 100 institutions from 35 countries. Its mission is to enhance the visibility and application of research outputs through a global network of open access digital repositories.