The opportunities and competitive demands of scholarship in this new environment are here to stay. Practices that made sense in the print environment must now be reconsidered and adapted to the possibilities of digital scholarship:
"Digital scholarship is becoming pervasive in the humanities and must be recognized as a legitimate scholarly endeavor," a Modern Language Association report asserts. "We must have the flexibility to ensure that as new sources and instruments for knowing develop, the meaning of scholarship can expand and remain relevant to our changing times." (Report of the MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion, p.43ff)
A report commissioned by the American Council of Learned Societies points to the “inherently democratizing power” of digital information, but warns "that power can be unleashed only if access to the cultural record is as open as possible, in both intellectual and economic terms, to the public." (Our Cultural Commonwealth: The final report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities & Social Sciences, p. 27)
“The traditional linear, batch processing approach to scholarly communication is changing to a process of continuous refinement as scholars write, review, annotate, and revise in near-real time using the Internet,” according to the National Science Foundation’s Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure (Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastructure, p. 42)
A team of renowned scientists in wide-ranging fields assembled to look at the coming transformation of science suggests that the scientific paper “will inevitably evolve in response to scientific needs and new enabling technologies.” They envision “the rise of new kinds of publications, not merely with different business models, but also with different editorial and technical approaches” serving research needs that will evolve with science itself. “These developments will not only reflect changes in the way research is done but in some cases may also stimulate them.” (Towards 2020 Science, p. 20)
Researchers, research centers, universities and their libraries, societies, research funders — all are partners in change. Institutions are supporting digital scholarship by building and supporting modern information and technology infrastructures. At Harvard University, for example, both the Arts and Sciences and Law faculties have voted to make their research articles freely available in the institution's open digital repository.
While it is important to retain the best elements of our legacy, many old ways are yielding to new norms and new opportunities brought by digital scholarship.
To explore how scholarly communication is adapting to these changes, visit New Modes.