Scholarly communication

Scholarly communication can be defined

 “as the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels such as blogs, social media and networking.”

Essentially scholarly communication is about making the results of research visible and sharing it with others so as to advance knowledge. Increasingly, sharing is now a very important part of this process and is starting to take place outside the normal communication channels such as published literature. Social media is becoming an important channel of communication in order to make research visible and shareable.

Moreover, making a version of your research available on the institutional repository helps to make your research more accessible and may give you an advantage when it comes to citation. A paper by Alma Swan in 2010 which examined a number of studies on the Open Access advantage (either publishing early in an institutional repository or making a version of a paper available in a repository) concluded there was a distinct advantage to doing this.

Moreover, using technology provides new opportunities for new kinds of works - wikis, open textbooks, annotated digitized primary source materials, raw data -  all of which are providing researchers and scholars with new options for sharing knowledge. Breaking down or lowering access barriers does not mean giving up peer review. Open-access and economically priced journals recognize and preserve the important role of peer review in scholarly communication. E-book series are being developed by reputable presses using traditional editorial practices. Open access utilizes new technology, sustainability strategies, and legal mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of information that is so vital to the progress of scholarship. Blogging and tweeting about research can enhance its visibility and provide an important feedback mechanism.

Michelle Terras undertook a case study with regard to her own publications. She concluded with “If you want people to find and read your research, build up a digital presence in your discipline, and use it to promote your work when you have something interesting to share. It’s pretty darn obvious really”. She also points out that over a number of years she has built up an audience because she not only makes her research available but points to interesting material, asks and answers questions, states opinions and sends supportive comments to other researchers.

So if one avails of all the channels of scholarly communication available to a researcher when publishing an article what should the result be?

  • The article is in a journal indexed by Web of Science/Scopus
  • It will receive x citations (deduped from Google Scholar, Web of Science and Scopus).
  • It will have been viewed x number of times, placing it in the top y percentile of all articles in this journal or community
  • It will have been downloaded a number of times from an institutional repository
  • It will have received x comments on social media
  • It will have been bookmarked in social bookmarking sites such as Zotero/Mendeley.
  • It will have been discussed, viewed and commented on in ResearchGate or Academic.edu.
  • It will have been rated by experts in the discipline
  • It will have been discussed on said experts’ respected blogs
  • It will have appeared in some form in the media (tv, newsprint, radio) and will have accrued a number of altmetrics scores such as counts of Tweets, Mentions, Views etc.

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