Formal scholarly publishing is characterized by a process of selection, editing, printing and distribution of an authors content by an intermediary (preferably one with some name recognition). Informal scholarly publication, by comparison, describes the dissemination of content (sometimes called "gray literature") that generally has not passed through these processes, such as working papers, lecture notes, student newsletters, etc. In the past decade, the range and importance of the latter has been dramatically expanded by information technology, as scholars increasingly turn to preprint servers, blogs, listservs, and institutional repositories, to share their work, ideas, data, opinions, and critiques. These forms of informal publication have become pervasive in the university and college environment. As scholars increasingly rely on these channels to share and find information, the boundaries between formal and informal publication will blur. These changes in the behavior of scholars will require changes in the approaches universities take to all kinds of publishing.
The future of scholarly communications
- Everything must be electronic
- Scholars will rely on deeply integrated electronic research/publishing environments
- Multimedia and multi-format delivery will become increasingly important
- New forms of content will enable new economic models