Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination in the Age of Online Social Media

It is no secret that Online Social Media (OSM) has become mainstream in recent years, and their adoption has skyrocketed. As a result of their growing popularity, numerous studies have been conducted on how the general public is using OSM.

However, very little work has been done on how scholars are using and adapting to these new tools in their professional life. In an attempt to fill this significant gap in the research literature, we recently conducted a comprehensive online survey to discover if, how and why scholars are using these new media for communication and knowledge dissemination.

In particular, we focussed on how academics in the social sciences use social media tools for professional purposes, and the implications that this might have on the future of scholarly communication and publishing practices in the age of online social media.


Résultats de l’enquête sur les usages et pratiques des comportements de publications au sein des communautés de l’OSUG

Afin de mieux connaître les usages et pratiques des comportements de publications au sein des communautés scientifiques de l’Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble (OSUG), un questionnaire a été diffusé sous format numérique en juin 2011.

Une première partie représente les comportements globaux des chercheurs dans les différents aspects de la publication. La deuxième et la troisième partie abordent les pratiques liées, respectivement, à l’Open Access et aux archives ouvertes, ainsi que les perceptions de ces deux modèles alternatifs dans le secteur de la publication.

La dernière partie fait une rapide synthèse du profil type des répondants et présente les mots-clés récoltés pour chaque laboratoires composant l’OSUG.


Achieving rigor and relevance in online multimedia scholarly…

Achieving rigor and relevance in online multimedia scholarly publishing :

“This paper discusses the importance of relevance and rigor in scholarly publishing in a new media–rich world. We defend that scholarship should be useful and engaging to audiences through the use of new media, and at the same time scholarly publishers must develop and maintain methods of ensuring content accuracy and providing quality controls in the production of scholarly multimedia products. We review examples and a case study of existing scholarly publishing venues that attempt to maintain quality control standards while embracing innovative multimedia formats. We also present lessons learned from the case experience and challenges that face us in the scholarly publication of multimedia.”


Mathematicians’ Views on Current Publishing Issues A Survey…

Mathematicians’ Views on Current Publishing Issues: A Survey of Researchers :

This article reports research mathematicians’ attitudes about and activity in specific scholarly communication areas, as captured in a 2010 survey of more than 600 randomly-selected mathematicians worldwide. Key findings include:

  • Most mathematicians have papers in the arXiv, but posting to their own web pages remains more common;
  • A third of mathematicians have published papers in open access (OA) journals, with speed of publication being seen as the primary advantage over traditional journals, but there is substantial philosophical opposition to OA journal models that charge author fees;
  • Tenure and promotion criteria influence publishing decisions even among most tenured faculty members;
  • Mathematicians want to keep more rights to their publications than they have been allowed, but they have a high success rate in negotiating with publishers for more;
  • Online collaboration tools, such as Google Groups, are not yet widely used for research but their use is expected to rise in the near future.

Reasons behind the mathematics culture of openness were also explored.”


Force11 White Paper Improving Future Research Communication and…

Force11 White Paper: Improving Future Research Communication and e-Scholarship :

“Research and scholarship lead to the generation of new knowledge. The dissemination of this knowledge has a fundamental impact on the ways in which society develops and progresses, and at the same time it feeds back to improve subsequent research and scholarship. Here, as in so many other areas of human activity, the internet is changing the way things work: it opens up opportunities for new processes that can accelerate the growth of knowledge, including the creation of new means of communicating that knowledge among researchers and within the wider community. Two decades of emergent and increasingly pervasive information technology have demonstrated the potential for far more effective scholarly communication. However, the use of this technology remains limited; research processes and the dissemination of research results have yet to fully assimilate the capabilities of the web and other digital media. Producers and consumers remain wedded to formats developed in the era of print publication, and the reward systems for researchers remain tied to those delivery mechanisms.

Force11 (the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship) is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that has arisen organically to help facilitate the change toward improved knowledge creation and sharing. Individually and collectively, we aim to bring about a change in scholarly communication through the effective use of information technology. Force11 has grown from a small group of like-minded individuals into an open movement with clearly identified stakeholders associated with emerging technologies, policies, funding mechanisms and business models. While not disputing the expressive power of the written word to communicate complex ideas, our foundational assumption is that scholarly communication by means of semantically-enhanced media-rich digital publishing is likely to have a greater impact than communication in traditional print media or electronic facsimiles of printed works. However, to date, online versions of ‘scholarly outputs’ have tended to replicate print forms, rather than exploit the additional functionalities afforded by the digital terrain. We believe that digital publishing of enhanced papers will enable more effective scholarly communication, which will also broaden to include, for example, better links to data, the publication of software tools, mathematical models, protocols and workflows, and research communication by means of social media channels.

This document highlights the findings of the Force11 workshop on the Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship held at Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany, in August 2011: it summarizes a number of key problems facing scholarly publishing today, and presents a vision that addresses these problems, proposing concrete steps that key stakeholders can take to improve the state of scholarly publishing. More about Force11 can be found at This White Paper is a collaborative effort that reflects the input of all Force11 attendees at the Dagstuhl Workshop, and is very much a living document . We see it as a starting point that will grow and be updated and augmented by individual and collective efforts by the participants and others. We invite you to join and contribute to this enterprise.”

UR :

Access to Scientific Publications The Scientist’s Perspective …

Access to Scientific Publications: The Scientist’s Perspective :

Background : Scientific publishing is undergoing significant changes due to the growth of online publications, increases in the number of open access journals, and policies of funders and universities requiring authors to ensure that their publications become publicly accessible. Most studies of the impact of these changes have focused on the growth of articles available through open access or the number of open-access journals. Here, we investigated access to publications at a number of institutes and universities around the world, focusing on publications in HIV vaccine research – an area of biomedical research with special importance to the developing world.

Methods and Findings : We selected research papers in HIV vaccine research field, creating: 1) a first set of 50 most recently published papers with keywords “HIV vaccine” and 2) a second set of 200 articles randomly selected from those cited in the first set. Access to the majority (80%) of the recently published articles required subscription, while cited literature was much more accessible (67% freely available online). Subscriptions at a number of institutions around the world were assessed for providing access to subscription-only articles from the two sets. The access levels varied widely, ranging among institutions from 20% to 90%. Through the WHO-supported HINARI program, institutes in low-income countries had access comparable to that of institutes in the North. Finally, we examined the response rates for reprint requests sent to corresponding authors, a method commonly used before internet access became widespread. Contacting corresponding authors with requests for electronic copies of articles by email resulted in a 55-60% success rate, although in some cases it took up to 1.5 months to get a response.

Conclusions : While research articles are increasingly available on the internet in open access format, institutional subscriptions continue to play an important role. However, subscriptions do not provide access to the full range of HIV vaccine research literature. Access to papers through subscriptions is complemented by a variety of other means, including emailing corresponding authors, joint affiliations, use of someone else’s login information and posting requests on message boards. This complex picture makes it difficult to assess the real ability of scientists to access literature, but the observed differences in access levels between institutions suggest an unlevel playing field, in which some researchers have to spend more efforts than others to obtain the same information.”


Openness as infrastructure

The advent of open access to peer reviewed scholarly literature in the biomedical sciences creates the opening to examine scholarship in general, and chemistry in particular, to see where and how novel forms of network technology can accelerate the scientific method. This paper examines broad trends in information access and openness with an eye towards their applications in chemistry.