Scholarly communication in the digital environment

Ian Rowlands (Department of Information Science, City University, London, UK)
David Nicholas (CIBER, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper aims to make a substantial contribution to the ongoing debate about the potential of open access publishing and institutional repositories to reform the scholarly communication system. It presents the views of senior authors on these issues and contextualises them within the broader framework of their journal publishing behaviour and preferences.


A highly representative online opinion survey of more than five and half thousand journals authors, building on an earlier (January 2004) benchmarking study carried out by CIBER.


Senior researchers are rapidly becoming more informed about open access publishing and institutional repositories but are still a long way off reaching a consensus on the likelihood that these new models will challenge the existing order, nor are they in agreement whether this would be a positive or a negative development. Disciplinary culture and, to a less extent, regional location are key determinants of author attitudes and any policy response should avoid “one‐size‐fits‐all” solutions.

Research limitations/implications

This survey reflects the opinions of senior corresponding authors who have recently published in a “top” (i.e. ISI‐indexed journal) with 95 per cent confidence. The findings should not be generalised to represent the views of all authors in all journals, open access or otherwise.


The journal publishing sector is facing enormous challenges and opportunities as content increasingly migrates to the web. The value of this research is that it provides an objective, non‐partisan, assessment of the attitudes and opinions of more than 5,000 senior researchers, a key stakeholder group, and thus contributes both to the development of public policy as well as more realistic commercial strategies.



Rowlands, I. and Nicholas, D. (2005), "Scholarly communication in the digital environment", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 57 No. 6, pp. 481-497.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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