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Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication:

[Forwarding from ARL - Please excuse any duplication resulting from
posting to multiple lists]

For immediate release:
November 10, 2008

For more information, contact:
Karla Hahn
Association of Research Libraries

Nancy L. Maron

Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication ARL Releases 
Final Report from Ithaka Study Washington DC--The Association of 
Research Libraries (ARL) has released the final report from a 
study that ARL commissioned Ithaka to conduct, Current Models of 
Digital Scholarly Communication, by Nancy L. Maron and K. Kirby 
Smith, along with the database of exemplars that the study 

In the spring of 2008, ARL engaged Ithaka's Strategic Services 
Group to conduct an investigation into the range of online 
resources valued by scholars, paying special attention to those 
projects that are pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional 
formats and are considered innovative by the faculty who use 
them. The networked digital environment has enabled the creation 
of many new kinds of works, and many of these resources have 
become essential tools for scholars conducting research, building 
scholarly networks, and disseminating their ideas and work, but 
the decentralized distribution of these new-model works has made 
it difficult to fully appreciate their scope and number.

Ithaka's findings are based on a collection of resources 
identified by a volunteer field team of over 300 librarians at 46 
academic institutions in the US and Canada. Field librarians 
talked with faculty members on their campuses about the digital 
scholarly resources they find most useful and reported the works 
they identified. The authors evaluated each resource gathered by 
the field team and conducted interviews of project leaders of 11 
representative resources. Ultimately, 206 unique digital 
resources spanning eight formats were identified that met the 
study's criteria.

The study's innovative qualitative approach yielded a rich cross- 
section of today's state of the art in digital scholarly 
resources. The report profiles each of the eight genres of 
resources, including discussion of how and why the faculty 
members reported using the resources for their work, how content 
is selected for the site, and what financial sustainability 
strategies the resources are employing. Each section draws from 
the in-depth interviews to provide illustrative anecdotes and 
representative examples.

Highlights from the study's findings include:

* While some disciplines seem to lend themselves to certain 
formats of digital resource more than others, examples of 
innovative resources can be found across the humanities, social 
sciences, and scientific/ technical/medical subject areas.

* Of all the resources suggested by faculty, almost every one 
that contained an original scholarly work operates under some 
form of peer review or editorial oversight.

* Some of the resources with greatest impact are those that have 
been around a long while.

* While some resources serve very large audiences, many digital 
publications--capable of running on relatively small budgets--are 
tailored to small, niche audiences.

* Innovations relating to multimedia content and Web 2.0 
functionality appear in some cases to blur the lines between 
resource types.

* Projects of all sizes--especially open-access sites and 
publications--employ a range of support strategies in the search 
for financial sustainability.

* The report is freely available on the ARL Web site at


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit 
organization of 123 research libraries in North America. Its 
mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly 
communication and the public policies that affect research 
libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues 
this mission by advancing the goals of its member research 
libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy 
to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the 
exchange of ideas and expertise, and shaping a future environment 
that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. 
ARL is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/.

Ithaka is an independent not-for-profit organization whose 
mission is to accelerate the productive uses of information 
technologies for the benefit of higher education worldwide. The 
group promotes innovation in higher education by supporting 
entrepreneurial not-for-profit initiatives to develop financially 
sustainable organizational and business models. Ithaka aims to 
combine a commitment to the core values of higher education, a 
deep understanding of technology and its impact, and experience 
developing economically sustainable not-for- profit business 
models, to help advance community-wide benefits during this time 
of technological transition. Ithaka is on the Web at 
http://www.ithaka.org/ .


Karla Hahn, Director
Office of Scholarly Communications
Association of Research Libraries
21 Dupont Circle
Washington, D.C. 20036
voice: 202-296-2296
      fax: 202-872-0884
email: karla@arl.org