UCL Library Services offers its users a range of services based upon traditional print publications and new electronic resources.
Scholarly Communication is the method and route by which academic information is passed from author to reader, via various intermediaries such as libraries and publishers.
This section of the UCL Library web-site describes the changes taking place
to improve the flow of academic information from author to reader.
The need for change
The flow of information from academic author to reader has been impaired in
recent years by the increase in the price of journals well above inflation,
by restrictive licensing terms for electronic products, and by the introduction
of technical protection measures to control access. The effect of these factors
hindering scholarly communication is seen in cancellations of journal titles
by research libraries such as UCL Library and restrictions upon the number
of scholarly monographs that may be purchased. In response to this situation
libraries are combining to use their collective purchasing power to obtain
better pricing and licensing terms. In the UK, Research Libraries UK
works to achieve better deals, collaborating
with JISC in the national licensing of journals, e-books and
datasets. The JISC participates in the International Coalition of Library Consortia,
an organisation which sets user-friendly
standards for the licensing of electronic products. Action by libraries on
their own is not sufficient to improve access to academic content, and authors
and funding agencies are combining with librarians to look at the way in which
scholarly publishing takes place.
If you write a journal article or a book, and a publisher agrees to publish
it, who owns the copyright? The answer to this question will be important if
you want to place a copy of your work on your web-site, send an electronic
copy to your colleagues, or make multiple copies for teaching. The legal position
is that you retain copyright unless you sign away your rights to a publisher.
Whoever owns copyright, the use of electronic formats is leading to changes
in the way authors and publishers manage copyright, identifying particular
rights which an author or publisher may consider important. Your employer may
wish you retain some rights to ensure that your work for the employer is not
restricted by your agreement with the publisher. If you do agree to assign
copyright to a publisher any rights you or your employer wish you to retain
- e.g. the right to place a copy on an open web-site - can be incorporated
into the copyright agreement you sign.
- For advice on the copyright management of academic content see the “Copyright
Management for Scholarship” web-site www.surf.nl/copyright/.
- For the copyright position on academic content purchased by UCL Library see
- For UCL's copyright policy see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/staff/resources/copyright-policy.
New publishing outlets
The use of computers to prepare academic work and make it available over the
networks is creating change in the way academic publishing takes place. Traditional
journal and book-publishing still carries considerable academic prestige, but
the need for users or their libraries to pay a high-cost subscription is leading
to the creation of new publishing outlets, some of which carry as much prestige
as the traditional publications.
Some of these new publishing outlets have been created to provide direct competition
for high-priced journals while still using a subscription-based economic model.
Examples are the journals established by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and
Academic Resources Coalition. Other new publishing outlets
have been established under a different economic model which makes peer-reviewed
journal content available without charge to users on the basis of a publication
payment by the author or the author's grant-awarding body. Two examples
of these new publishers are the Public Library of Science and
Some grant-awarding bodies - e.g. the Wellcome
Trust - support the payment of these “open access” publication
payments by authors from their research grants. The advantage to authors of
this form of publication is the wider readership their work receives, through “toll-free” access
over the Internet. Many authors are also making their work available to a wider
audience by depositing their work in a university web-site. This may often
be done with the agreement of traditional publishers.
- A list of peer-reviewed “open access” journals can be found at
- Information on university web-sites which act as repositories for academic
publications can be found at www.sparceurope.org.
- A range of projects funded by JISC under the FAIR Programme - including UCL
Library's involvement in the SHERPA Project - is described at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/
- For a description of strategies being adopted in moving to “open access” publication
see the Budapest Open Access Initiative (www.soros.org/openaccess/).
The information on this page has been compiled by Frederick Friend, Honorary
Director Scholarly Communication, UCL (e-mail email@example.com).
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Last modified 5 June 2013