Message from the University Librarian:
Changing the Scholarly Communication Process
The scholarly communication process must change to better serve the needs
of scholars and society in general by enabling greater access to the world’s
scholarship and knowledge by faculty, students, and educated citizens. Scholars
must be able to both make the results of their research and scholarship widely
available and use the work of other scholars, as well as their own work, to
begin again and continue the cycle of creation of new knowledge. We in the
academy, especially librarians and faculty, must exercise more influence and
control over the scholarly communication process to achieve these ends.
Challenges in Scholarly Communication
The UC libraries recently
concluded difficult negotiations with Elsevier that resulted in a new five-year
contract for online access to over 1,200 science and technology journals.
The contract is a significant improvement for the Libraries in that we avoided
the need to significantly reduce needed journals; we added important new journals,
particularly titles from Cell Press for the first time; and we realized significant
price reductions for the entire contract.
We were able to achieve such significant results because of the support
of the faculty, the Academic Council, the Systemwide Senate leadership,
and the Councils of Chancellors and Vice Chancellors, which allowed us
from a position of strength. It is the normal course of business for the
Libraries to negotiate contracts and subscriptions for library materials
in all disciplines on a regular basis. Elsevier is only the first contract
(albeit the largest) that reflects our broader strategy to build more economically
sustainable relationships with publishers in all disciplines, notably by
reducing expenditure on content while maintaining, if not increasing, faculty
access. We will keep you informed of our progress as publisher contracts
come due for renewal and are negotiated.
However, we must also address deeper structural problems in scholarly communication
that threaten the creation, dissemination, and further use of new knowledge
in fundamental ways. The economics and dynamics of scholarly publishing are
unusual because the academy is both the principal producer and the principal
purchaser and user of the product. A severe imbalance exists between the significant
and essential contributions of faculty, the work the publishers perform, and
the prices charged by publishers.
Consequently, we must do much more than negotiate favorable publishers contracts.
The UCI Libraries, the UC libraries, and the Academic Senate are working together
to address fundamental problems in a scholarly communication process that
must better serve the academy and society.
To address these issues at Irvine, the UCI Libraries have established SCAMP,
the Scholarly Communication and Management Program, which is bringing faculty,
librarians, and administrators together as colleagues to address problems
in scholarly communication; and explore alternative means for publishing
scholarly materials that make high-quality peer-reviewed work widely available
reasonable price. More information is available from the Libraries’ home page or from
A recent SCAMP program addressed the role of new forms of scholarly publishing
in the academic review and tenure process (see page 1 in this issue of Update).
SCAMP will next host a workshop for faculty on improving author control of
copyright through publishers’ contracts. We welcome your ideas for other
SCAMP programs that focus on aspects of scholarly publishing.
We will also be working closely with UCI’s Academic Senate leadership
and its Council on Research, Computing, and Library Resources (CORCLR); the
University Committee on Libraries (UCOL); and Systemwide Library and Scholarly
Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC). An important player will be the
Academic Council’s new Special Committee on Scholarly Communication
(SCSC), which will begin a careful analysis of alternative publications methods
for both scholarly periodicals and monographs; methods of evaluating and ensuring
high-quality publications that can be used in academic promotion and tenure;
the most appropriate business model(s) for publications; and possible effects
on scholarly societies of different publication methods
Together we can systematically and significantly change the process. The
Libraries can provide organization, leadership, and focus, but the faculty
must be closely involved, for the power to change the dynamics and economics
of scholarly publishing lies with those who produce its intellectual content.
Our collaborative efforts at Irvine will strengthen the University’s
initiatives and lead to better sharing and use of new knowledge.