The purpose of this paper is to investigate the implications of the emergence of virtual research environments (VREs) and related e‐research tools for scholarly work and communications processes.
The concepts of VREs and of e‐research more generally are introduced and relevant literature is reviewed. On this basis, the authors discuss the developing role they play in research practices across a number of disciplines and how scholarly communication is beginning to evolve in response to the opportunities these new tools open up and the challenges they raise.
Virtual research environments are beginning to change the ways in which researchers go about their work and how they communicate with each other and with other stakeholders such as publishers and service providers. The changes are driven by the changing landscape of data production, curation and (re‐)use, by new scientific methods, by changes in technology supply and the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research in many domains.
The paper is based on observations drawn from a number of projects in which the authors are investigating the uptake of advanced ICT in research. The paper describes the role of VREs as enablers of changing research practices and the ways in which they engender changes in scholarly work and communications.
Librarians and other information professionals need to be aware of how advanced ICTs are being used by researchers to change the ways they work and communicate. Through their experiences with the integration of virtual learning environments within library information services, they are well placed to inform developments that may well change scholarly communications fundamentally.
The paper contributes to emerging discussions about the likely trajectory and impact of advanced ICTs on research and their implications for those, such as librarians and other information professionals, who occupy important support roles.
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