Report from the "What is Publishing?" (1) Workgroup

Amy Brand, James Butcher, Meg Buzzi, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Ann Gabriel, Rikk Mulligan, Vivian Siegel, Matt Spitzer, Jamie Vernon


The mechanisms used for scholarly publishing have remained largely unchanged over time, even as we’ve moved from a print-based world to a digital world. The scholarly communication ecosystem, however, is now undergoing a period of rapid transformation, including the introduction of new actors, new services, and increased pressure to improve the means of scholarly communication in order to meet the growing expectations of an information-rich world. Where to begin? The first question is to ask how scholarly publishing can provide the greatest benefit to global society in a sustainable way. Our two-day conversation about this question led us to the conclusion that the “black box,” monolithic model of scholarly publishing no longer serves most researchers. The most sustainable approach that best responds to the needs of authors and researchers today, and that may also pose the least amount of risk in completely disrupting the system, is disaggregated services—unbundling the products and services that publishers currently provide and letting market forces drive the development of, and demand for, a new and improved à la carte world of knowledge artifacts and knowledge management tools.

OSI2016 Workshop Question

What do we mean by publishing in today’s world? What should be the goals of scholarly publishing? What are the ideals to which scholarly publishing should aspire? What roles might scholarly publishers have in the future? What scenarios exist where publishers continue to play a vital role but information moves more freely? What impact might these reforms have on the health of publishers? Scholarly societies? Science research? Why?

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