Scholarly research makes a profound contribution to the social, cultural and economic wealth of a country. The results of research, referred to here as “scholarly knowledge”, is created, organized, preserved and disseminated within the scholarly communication system. The Canadian scholarly communication system is just one part of a larger international system that is undergoing profound changes. And, while other countries are undertaking national research strategies aimed at understanding and navigating these changes, Canada is not. In order to optimize the dissemination of scholarly knowledge, it is critical that Canada develop a comprehensive research strategy to examine the future of scholarly communication in this country.
For more information about the scholarly communication process, see the backgrounder, Transition of Scholarly Communication in Canada.
In 2001, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) commissioned a literature review of the major issues facing scholarly knowledge dissemination in the future. Since Canadian research libraries play a major role in the acquisition, storage, use, and ultimately the creation of knowledge in Canada, they have a significant stake in understanding the current and future trends in Canadian research, as well as how this knowledge will be managed. The review identified 28 major issues affecting research libraries and the scholarly knowledge dissemination process in Canada.
It was easy to see that each of the issues listed in the review represented a substantial research topic in itself. Thus, CARL opted to undertake a study to identify the most crucial of these issues and prioritize them in order define an agenda for research into the dissemination of scholarly knowledge in the Canadian context. To investigate this problem, CARL assembled a research team in the spring of 2002, which penned a proposal for a Research Development Initiative grant (SSHRC). The purpose of this study is to examine how knowledge dissemination within the scholarly communication system in Canada is being transformed by a variety of factors (drivers) with the goal of optimizing the Canadian response to the impact of these drivers.
The study addresses a number of core research questions: What is the current state of scholarly communication in Canada? How are external drivers transforming knowledge dissemination within the current system of scholarly communication? Is there a need for a specific Canadian research strategy to facilitate the adaptation of the scholarly communication system to this new dynamic environment? If so, what should that strategy be?
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