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Scholarly Communication

An exploration of issues relating to scholarly communication and open access.



Accepted Manuscript: see author’s final manuscript.

Author’s Final Manuscript: A scholarly article in its final form, after it has gone through the peer review/refereeing process, sometimes referred to as a post-print or an accepted manuscript. Publishers often distinguish between working papers and author’s final manuscripts in policies relating to author self-archiving.  A final manuscript should not be confused with the PDF produced by the publisher.  A final manuscript is often a Word or PDF produced by the author.


Budapest Open Access Initiative: Landmark 2002 document in the open access movement. Signatories agreed that scholarly information, particularly scientific articles, should be freely available in order to advance the discipline as well as the readership of the articles. That is, that they should be "OA" (freely available via open access) either because they are in open access journals or because they have been deposited in on OA repository.

Bundling (also referred to as "The Big Deal"): A business practice of many large commercial publishers that entails offering universities access to a large group of journal titles at a discounted price. Can lower the average cost of access per journal, but reduces library control over collections and increases publishers' market power over libraries.


Copyright: The exclusive legal rights granted by a government to an author, editor, compiler, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to publish, produce, sell, or distribute copies of a literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, or other work, within certain limitations (fair use and first sale). Copyright law also governs the right to prepare derivative works, reproduce a work or portions of it, and display or perform a work in public.

Creative Commons: An organization that, according to its website, "offers a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors and artists. We have built upon the "all rights reserved" of traditional copyright to create a voluntary "some rights reserved" copyright." The Public Library of Science is one prominent open access publisher that makes use of the Creative Commons Attribution License for the work it publishes.

Crossref: The official DOI link registration agency for scholarly and professional publications.


Digital Object Identifier (DOI): A DOI provides current information about digital content (e.g., articles), including where the items (or information about the items) can be found on the Internet. Information about a digital object may change over time, including where to find it, but its DOI name will not change.

Digital Repository: An online, searchable, web-accessible database containing works of research deposited by scholars. Purpose is both increased access to scholarship and long-term preservation. Digital repositories are often built to serve a specific institution's community of users, in which cases they are called institutional repositories. There are also discipline-specific digital repositories, like Most digital repositories may be searched together via OAIster


E-prints: Scholarly works that have been deposited in a digital repository are sometimes referred to as “E-Prints.” Also the name of a leading producer of digital repository software.


Fair Use: A provision of copyright law that outlines the extent to which copyrighted work can be used or reproduced without seeking the permission of the copyright holder. Libraries rely on fair use to be able to provide access to research materials, and scholars depend on it to allow them to cite the research of others in their work.

Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA):  Bipartisan legislation co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate in 2006 by John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) requiring federal agencies that fund more than $100 million in annual external research to make electronic copies of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from their non-classified research publicly accessible over the Internet at no charge within six months of publication.


Gift Exchange: Refers to the traditional practice of scholarly communication publishing, in which researchers freely give their work to publishers with no expectation of monetary gain, but with the understanding that publishers will provide the widest possible audience for their work.


Hybrid journal: Many journal publishers are experimenting with hybrid models, whereby the journal itself is not fully open access, but authors may pay a sum of money to make their article open access. This type of open access article is called "gold OA".


Impact Factor:  In citation analysis, a quantitative measure of the frequency with which the "average article" published in a given scholarly journal has been cited in a particular year or period, developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) for use in Journal Citation Reports, a multidisciplinary tool for ranking, evaluating, and comparing journals within subject categories.

Institutional Repository: Often abbreviated as “IR,” an institutional repository is an online, searchable, web-accessible database containing works of research deposited by scholars working at a particular institution (e.g., Harvard University). IRs provide increased access and preservation of digital materials.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN): A unique eight-digit number used to identify a print or electronic periodical publication, such as an academic journal. Many journals will have two ISSN numbers, one for the print version and one for the online version.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN):  A unique thirteen-digit number used to identify published books.


Limited Author Agreement (also sometimes called “Standard Author’s Agreement”): For our purpose, this refers to an article not subject to the open access policy or for which the author has been granted a waiver and is, therefore, subject to the standard agreement that the journal publisher makes with its authors.  Prior to publication, authors and publishers enter into a license agreement by which the author agrees to give up certain rights in return for publication and distribution of a given work.  Rather than entering into negotiations of rights with individual authors, publishers usually provide a standard agreement for the author to sign and return as a condition of publication.


Manuscript: From the Latin phrase codex manu scriptus. Strictly speaking, a work of any kind (text, inscription, music score, map, etc.) written entirely by hand. Also refers to the handwritten or typescript copy of an author's work as submitted for publication, before printing.

Metadata: Metadata is “data about data.” For our purposes, metadata refers to information that describes an item(s), title, abstract, ISSN, DOI, file format, etc.—as distinct from the content of the digital file itself.


Open Access: The scholarly communication reform movement that aims to make scholarly literature freely available on the public web. The term also refers to open access journal publishing and author self-archiving in digital repositories or on personal websites. A work that is referred to as “open access” is typically digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions

OAI (Open Archives Initiative): The OAI develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. Its major contribution is the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, a set of guidelines that enable repositories to expose the metadata describing their content to service providers who harvest the metadata into large aggregations (see OAIster, below). Intended to expose the work deposited in repositories to the widest possible audience and ensure the interoperability of repositories. (Note: do not confuse OAI with OA (open access)!)

ORCIDprovides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes one researcher from another.  


Post-Print: See author’s final manuscript.

Pre-Print: See working paper.

Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing (a.k.a. the Tempe Principles) A set of nine principles devised by several major American research libraries in 2000 and intended to "guide the transformation of the scholarly publishing system." Among other things, the Tempe Principles recommend that the university community work on ways to alleviate the journal pricing problem and that faculty should aim to retain copyright control over their work.

Publisher’s version: The version of an article produced and disseminated by a publisher. This is generally the version that is located by a search of library/subscription databases.


Scholarly Article: An article that describe the fruits of a scholar’s research and that he or she gives to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings. Many of the written products of scholar’s efforts are not encompassed under this notion of scholarly article: books, popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works.

Scholarly Communication: The means by which individuals engaged in academic research and creative endeavor inform their peers, formally or informally, of the work they are engaged in or have accomplished. Broadly defined, the process includes not only the creation and dissemination of scholarly works but also evaluation of quality (peer review) and preservation for future use.

Self-Archiving: Placing a copy of an article (or other scholarly work) in a digital repository. Sometimes this term is also used to refer to the practice of authors placing their articles on personal websites, though this is technically not archiving them, as there is no assurance of preservation, as there is with institutional repositories.

SHERPA/RoMEO: An online database providing summaries of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright transfer agreement.

SPARC: The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, "an alliance of universities, research libraries, and organizations... helping to create systems that expand information dissemination and use in a networked digital environment while responding to the needs of academe." Works to develop and support open access or low-cost academic journals.

STM: Scientific, technical, and medical. In the scholarly communication literature, this abbreviation is often used as shorthand for the area of publishing that has seen the worst instances of price increases.


Tempe Principles: See Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing


Version of Record: See publisher’s version.


Working Paper: A scholarly article that has not yet passed the peer review/refereeing process.  Also referred to as a pre-print.