Information and communication technologies seem to bring new dynamics to the established, but partly deadlocked, system of scholarly communication. Technologies are the basis for new publication forms and services which seem to enable a faster and more cost-efficient distribution of research results. Up to now new forms of scholarly communication have been described in the literature only in the form of single and often anecdotic reports. Despite the large number of papers in that area, no classification scheme for new forms of scholarly communication can be found. Therefore, this chapter aims at presenting such a classification scheme. It allows the description of new forms of scholarly communication in a standardized way. A structured comparison of new activities is possible. For this purpose, original publication media on the one hand and complementary services on the other are differentiated. With the help of morphological boxes, characteristics of both kinds of new means of scholarly communication are presented.
Functions of Scholarly Communication
Scholarly communication is an important part of the research process. For systematic and efficient scientific progress to take place, research results have to be published and made accessible to other researchers who need to incorporate them in their own research (Figure 1).
The system of scholarly communication
Scientific publications are the formal means of communication between scientists. In general, a scientific publication fulfils four main functions that are valuable for the scholarly communication (Kircz & Roosendaal, 1996):
The registration function that relates research results to a particular scientist who claims priority for them,
The certification function that concerns the validation of research,
The awareness function that leads to disclosure and search needs, and
The archiving function that concerns the storage and accessibility of research results.
Every kind of scholarly publishing must fulfill these abstract functions in some way or another (Geurts & Roosendaal, 2001).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Complementary Services: Scholarly means of communication that do not fulfil the registration function. Complementary services enhance scholarly communication by support to one or more of the scholarly communication functions. Examples are the certification service Faculty of 1000 as well as the search engines Scopus and OAIster.
Functions of the Scholarly Communication: The four functions of the scholarly communication are certification, registration, awareness, and archiving.
Open Access: Scholarly communication forms that do not charge users to (legally) read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of their content.
Serials Crisis: In the last 30 years, prices for scholarly journals increased well above the inflation rate while the budgets of the libraries’ more or less stagnated. The libraries have therefore difficulties in providing scientists with the needed scientific material. This situation is known as the serial crisis.
Scholarly Communication: Authoring and publication of scholarly material in order to communicate knowledge and to foster research within the scientific community.
Electronic Publishing: Publishing process whose output is based on digital representation of the content and is therefore independent of specific media.
Publication Media: Scholarly communication means which explicitly fulfil the registration function. They link a contribution to an author and thereby guarantee the authors’ priority for that particular finding. Examples are journals and preprint servers.