Summary of Findings
Digital innovations are taking place in all disciplines.
While some disciplines seem to lend themselves to certain formats of digital
resource more than others, examples of innovative resources can be found across
the humanities, social sciences, and scientific/technical/medical subject areas.
Digital publishing is shaped powerfully
by the traditions of scholarly culture.
Traditions of scholarly culture relating to establishing scholarly legitimacy
through credentialing, peer review, and citation metrics exert a powerful force
on these innovative online projects. Almost every resource suggested by the
interviewed scholars incorporates peer review or editorial oversight. Though
some born-digital journals are beginning to experiment with open peer review,
the examples observed in this study were still in early stages.
Some of the largest resources with greatest impact
have been in existence a long while.
Given the importance of longevity in establishing scholarly reputation, the
necessity of building an audience to attract high-quality content, and the time it
takes to fine-tune a digital resource, even excellent new digital publications may
need years to establish their place in their scholarly community.
Many digital publications are small, niche resources.
Many digital publications are directed at small, niche audiences. There appears
to be a very long tail in the field of digital scholarly resources with many tightly
focused publications directed at narrow audiences and capable of running on
relatively small budgets.
Although many of the digital scholarly resources are
primarily text-based, there are also examples that
incorporate multimedia technology and networking
tools to create new and innovative works.
“Video articles,” peer-reviewed reader commentary, and medieval illuminated
texts coded as data are all evidence of the creative format mash-ups that
challenge us to re-think the definitions of traditional content categories. Many
of the resources in this sample that incorporate these sorts of innovations—data
sites, annotated primary source content, and the newest forums to facilitate
exchanges between scholars—have no print corollary.
RLI 263 19
Digital Scholarly Communication: A Snapshot of Current Trends
C O N T I N U E D
APRIL 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC