Scholarly Communication

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The Basics

Scholarly Communication Basics


The term "scholarly communication" is a general term that covers research, scholarship, and many different areas of academia. A good, general definition comes from the Association of College and Research Libraries

Scholarly communication is 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 electronic listservs. This document addresses issues related primarily to the formal system of scholarly communication.

One of the fundamental characteristics of scholarly research is that it is created as a public good to facilitate inquiry and knowledge. A substantial portion of such research is publicly supported, either directly through federally-funded research projects or indirectly through state support of researchers at state higher-education institutions. In addition, the vast majority of scholars develop and disseminate their research with no expectation of direct financial reward.

The Association of College and Research Libraries has complied a Scholarly Communication Toolkit that includes an information on new models of scholarship and publishing.

This guide will help to explain some of the different areas of Scholarly Communication and provide guidance. Many areas of SC are evolving and changing rapidly, particularly the areas of Open Access and Data Management. Confused? Not sure of what to check out first? Contact Carmen Mitchell

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Open Access

Open Access


What is Open Access?

According to Peter Suber, the Director of the Harvard Open Access Project

  • Open-access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
  • Open Access removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions). The Public Library of Science shorthand definition —"free availability and unrestricted use"— succinctly captures both elements.
  • There is some flexibility about which permission barriers to remove. For example, some Open Access providers permit commercial re-use and some do not. Some permit derivative works and some do not. But all of the major public definitions of Open Access agree that merely removing price barriers, or limiting permissible uses to "fair use" ("fair dealing" in the UK), is not enough. 

Some grant and funding organizations have Open Access requirements for their recipients, requiring them to place their research into publicly accessible repositories like PubMed Central. The National Institutes of Health has had an Open Access requirement for grantees since 2008, and recently announced that they will begin holding back funding from researchers that do not comply with this requirement. 


Learn about Open Access from PHD Comics and their "Things Explained" series. 

Animation by Jorge Cham, Narration by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen, Transcription by Noel Dilworth

Produced in partnership with the Right to Research Coalition, the Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students

Open Access Explained!

 

Animation by Jorge Cham
Narration by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen
Transcription by Noel Dilworth
Produced in partnership with the Right to Research Coalition, the Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition and the National Association of Graduate-Professional S


SPARC: The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Publishing Coalition has a wealth of information about scholarly communications, author rights, as well as Open Access and Open Educational Resources listed on their "Resources" website.

OpenDOAR  The Directory of Open Access Repositories, lists over 2,000 repositories around the world where research and scholarship is available.

Several colleges and universities are adopting Open Access Policies for their campuses. Some of these organizations even voted the policy in with unanimous faculty votes. For organizations that are considering adopting an Open Access Policy, Columbia University Libraries Scholarly Communication Program has put together a template that can be downloaded and adapted for use elsewhere. 


There are some people trying to capitalize on the Open Access movement by charging authors and researchers high publishing fees to be published in journals that may look scholarly - but they are really more just to generate money. Scepticemia has a fantastic blog post that explains "predatory open acccess."

The Association of College and Research Libraries blog (ACRLog) explored "predatory publishing" in April, 2013. Included in their post is information about how to evaluate sources and how to determine if a publication could be considered "predatory." 

Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright and Fair Use


Copyright is a form of legal protection for original works, both published and unpublished. The US Copyright Office has published a brochure that explains copyright basics. They also have a FAQ page on their website that explains some of the most common questions that come up regarding copyright. The complete version of US Copyright law can also be found on the same website. 

The Columbia University Libraries/Information Services has one of the most helpful and informative websites on Copyright, including information on permissions and fair use.


It's not always easy to know if something is covered by copyright. Here are some tools that can assist you when determining the copyright status of an item:

The Copyright Genie is a website that was created by Michael Brewer and the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy. This site asks several questions, and walks you through a decision-making process to determine if something is copywritten. 

The Library Copyright Digital Slider was also created by Michael Brewer and the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy. This site is handy for determining at a quick glance if something is in the public domain or not. 


The Fair Use Doctrine was added to Section 107 of the Copyright Law in 1976. It allows for using portions of copyrighted works, but does not give specific paramenters. This can be problematic - how do you know what falls under "fair use" and was does not? 

There are four factors of Fair Use and they are outlined in Section 107 of the Copyright Law: 

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
the nature of the copyrighted work;
the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The American Library Association and Michael Brewer have put together a Fair Use Evaluator. This website will walk you through the process of understanding the "fairness" of a use, collect the information you might need if you have to defend your use, as well as provides educational materials for further exploration.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services has put together a Fair Use Checklist that can help you determine if your inteded use falls under "Fair Use." 


EDUCAUSE has compiled several reserouces around copyright and education, including current news, research, and guidelines. 

The Center for Social Media offers several resources for fair use teaching tools. 

PBS SoCal has put together a website with several resources specifically for educators. It covers copyright, fair use, and teaching. Learn more through videos, checklists, and quizes.


Georgia State University was taken to court by several publishers regarding the use of copyrighted materials in e-reserves. The court decided in the favor of fair use and of GSU. EDUCAUSE has compiled several resources pertaining to the case. 

Google Books vs. The Author's Guild - quite possibly the most talked about copyright and fair use case in recent history! After over 8 years of litigation, the courts have ruled that the Google Books Scanning Project does not violate copyright law. From a press release put out by the Library Copyright Alliance
"In his dismissal of the case, Judge Chin enumerated the public benefits of Google Book Search by calling the project transformative and a fair use under the copyright law."

Harvard Business Review recently enacted very strict restrictions on how their most popular articles may be used. The American Library Association has issued a statement about how this will be detrimental to scholarship and research. HBR is continuing to support the changes. 

Authors Rights

Authors Rights


Publishing is important to many disciplines. Before you sign a contract with a publisher, you must make sure that you understand the terms of the contract and that they will allow you to use your work in your pedagogy. Publishing your research requires some thought about copyright and an author's responsibility. What are your rights as the creator of the content? Do you have rights to the intellectual property? What are those rights? If you give your copyright to a publisher, you will be limited by "Fair Use" when using your work in the future. 

Traditionally, academic publishers have required that authors transfer copyright to them, but this is changing. More and more campuses are creating Open Access mandates that require authors to retain some rights to their work. The assignment of "non-exclusive" rights is becoming much more common. Science Commons has created the The Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine. It will help you generate a PDF form that you can attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights. You can use this form to negotiate to retain the copyright to your work, or to include it in ScholarWorks, the CSUSM Institutional Repository. If you would like assistance in negotiating to retain your copyright, license your research with a Creative Comons license, or to explore other options, please contact Carmen Mitchell.

CSUSM has an Intellectual Property Policy that faculty, staff, and students can refer to for more information on the campus. The first purpose of this intellectual property policy is to provide the necessary protections and incentives to encourage both the discovery and development of new knowledge, its transfer for the public benefit and its use for development of the economy. 

Data Management

Data Management

If you are in the process of applying for a grant, or a preparing to apply for a grant, you already know that a number of U.S. funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health require researchers to supply detailed, cost-effective plans for managing research data, called Data Management Plans. The CSUSM Library has gathered some tools and resources to assist with this process. 

DMP Tool:

A group of several universities and organizations worked together to develop the DMPTool. This website will help researchers meet these new requirements. In specific, the DMPTool will help you to:

  • Create ready-to-use data management plans for specific funding agencies
  • Meet requirements for data management plans
  • Get step-by-step instructions and guidance for data management plan
  • Learn about resources and services available at your institution to fulfill the data management requirements of their grants

Cal State San Marcos is a partner organization in the DMPTool. To get started, go to: https://dmp.cdlib.org/ and click on the “get started” or the “log in” buttons. Select California State University, San Marcos from the pull-down menu and select “new user” (first time only). You will then be able to log in to the web site using your CSUSM user name and password. If you need help with getting started, please visit their Help Page. Setting up a Data Management Plan is only the beginning part of the process. Carly Strasser from the California Digital Library has written a very helpful blog post about Data Management, including suggestions for reviewing and revising your DMP as you work. 

DataUp is an open source tool that can assist researchers document, manage, and archive their tabular data. DataUp assists with:

  1. Checking for Best Practices
  2. Creating Metadata
  3. Asssigning identifiers
  4. Archive and share your data. 

Several journals are now requiring authors to share their data as a condition of being published. Some of the journals with this requirement are PLoS, BMJ, and Ecology. More journals and information can be found in Carly Strasser's blog post for Data Pub from November, 2012

ScholarWorks at CSUSM

ScholarWorks at CSUSM

ScholarWorks is the institutional repository for Cal State San Marcos. But what is an institutional repository?

  • A digital repository for the scholarship, research, and creative works created by the faculty, researchers, and students of CSUSM.
  • Provide Open Access to scholarly output by self-archiving it.
  • One central location for content from the campus.
  • Make research and scholarly output available to anyone with access to a computer and the internet. 
  • An IR can help increase the visibility of sometimes hidden work like technical reports, theses and dissertations. 

Need Help?

Carmen Mitchell

Scholarly Communication Librarian
cmitchell@csusm.edu
760-750-8358
Office Location: 
KEL 3307
Office Hours: 
Available by appointment.

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