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October 26, 2000

SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING: Is the printed journal doomed?

The current system of scholarly publishing "is in collapse. It's just a matter of how many years it will continue," University Library System (ULS) director Rush G. Miller said at the Oct. 18 University Senate fall plenary session, "Are Scholars Under Siege? The Scholarly Communication Crisis."

Another panelist, Provost James V. Maher, said: "I don't know if 'crisis' is the right word to describe it, but I think it is very fair to say that we are faced with both challenges and opportunities that cannot be met if the faculties of the great universities of the world today don't discuss what kind of communication will mediate scholarship in the future."

The idea for the Senate meeting grew out of a historic, by-invitation conference in Tempe, Ariz. last spring, organized by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Maher and Miller were among the conference's 36 participants, who approved nine principles intended to guide a transformation of scholarly publishing.

The AAU/ARL document, "Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing," argues that increasing volume and costs of scholarly publications — particularly in science, technology and medicine — are making it impossible for libraries to meet the research needs of faculty and students.

Moreover, the pressure on library budgets from high-priced science, technology and medical publications has made it difficult for academic publishers in the humanities and social sciences to publish monographs or to afford moving to digital publishing systems, according to the document.

The text of "Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing" is available on-line at: One of the document's recommendations was that universities hold forums for faculty to discuss the future of scholarly publishing — hence, last week's Senate plenary session.


Filed under: Feature,Volume 33 Issue 5

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