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Scholarly Communications: Home: What is Scholarly Communication?

Overview of scholarly communication

What is Scholarly Communication?

Simply put, scholarly communication is how scholars share scholarly writings with each other and the world. Participants include faculty, students, librarians, and other stakeholders.


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 mailing lists.” (ACRL, 2003)

The term scholarly communication may be understood (or misunderstood) differently by insiders and outsiders of library and scholarly communities, and might be heard as empty jargon to key stakeholders. This guide aims to create a common understanding of the term to enable effective communication about needs, as part of the PALNI Scholarly Communications Faculty Engagement Toolkit. It represents the viewpoints of faculty, students, and librarians (both scholarly communication-focused and other).

What does scholarly communication mean to me? Students

In scholarly communication, students...

  • Consume scholarly writings 

  • Acquire information literacy skills

  • Produce scholarly writings 

  • Publish/share scholarly writings

  • Deposit their scholarly writings for archiving

What does scholarly communication mean to me? Faculty

faculty iconIn scholarly communication, faculty members:

  • Consume scholarly writings in their discipline

  • Produce scholarly writings

  • Manage research data

  • Publish/share scholarly writings 

  • Deposit their scholarly writings for archiving

  • Evaluate and provide peer-review to scholarly writings

  • Request and suggest scholarly resources for inclusion in the library collection

  • Assign readings and textbooks to their students

  • Assess and curate their scholarly writings for the purposes of promotion and tenure

What does scholarly communication mean to me? Librarians

librarian iconIn scholarly communications, librarians ...

  • Are aware of the research process and scholarly communication

    • Become aware of their role in scholarly communication; learn practices, competencies, and terminology

  • Liaise with faculty to determine their needs, connect them to resources, and advocate for open access

  • Build students’ information literacy skills, which are vital to a healthy scholarly communication environment (such as how to form a research question)

  • Collect, organize, and present scholarly resources for discovery and use 

  • Produce scholarly writings

  • Publish/share scholarly writings

  • Deposit their scholarly writings for archiving

Specifically, scholarly communication librarians ...

  • Manage scholarly communication initiatives and provide services in the following areas:

    • Advocacy for open access to scholarship

    • Assessment (evaluating journals, analyzing metrics, etc.)

    • Data management

    • Institutional repositories 

    • Open educational resources (OER)

    • Publishing

    • Copyright and Author’s Rights

  • Possess specific scholarly communication competencies

  • Are conversant in scholarly communication terminology

  • Understand the “serials crisis” that preceded the modern open access movement and prompted greater library participation in scholarly communication

Scholarly Communication Cycle

Scholarly Communication cycle

Scholcomm Cycle by ACRL is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Scholarly Communication is often depicted as a cycle (see this Scholarly Kitchen blog post for more examples).

Components of Scholarly Communication

The definition of scholarly communication can be broken down into component parts: objects and actions.


Scholarly writings (formal and informal): Peer-reviewed academic journal articles, books, conference papers, preprints and working papers, reports, encyclopedias, dictionaries, data and visualizations, blogs and discussion forums, multimedia presentations, etc.


  1. Creation: The research process (which may be considered a pre-creation step -- including literature review, designing a study/experiment and data collection/analysis); and authoring

  2. Evaluation for Quality: Peer-review, research assessment

  3. Dissemination: Publication and discovery. 

  4. Preservation: Archiving and data management



Scholarly Communication, or "Schol Comm" can have a language of its own.  Here are some common terms to be aware of: 

  • Article processing charge (APC): A fee charged by some journals to publish an article open access
  • Author addendum: Proposed amendment to a publishing agreement allowing authors to retain more rights
  • Embargo: Delay between and item's date of publication and when it can be made available open access
  • Institutional repository (IR): an online repository to collect and disseminate an institution's research outputs

Check out the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI) Glossary for complete definitions and additional terms.

Copyright Notice

PALNI's Scholarly Communications LibGuide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. PALNI’s logos and branding template are not covered by this license, and all rights to such material are reserved.           Creative Commons License