With the development of internet and digital communications, the ecosystem of scholarly communications has undergone a massive change. These changes have been evolutionary ever since the invention of the internet in the mid-1990s. The community of researchers and publishers have worked been receptive to these changes that have transformed scholarly communications in the past 20 years.
In this article, we describe the emerging trends in scholarly communication. We further investigate how emerging technologies can be used to collaborate with researchers in real-time. The top 12 trends in scholarly research and communications are as follows:
1. Upstream movement of publishers
Most publishers would evolve from print medium to digital medium; therefore, the traditional mode of publication (print medium) would see a decline in sales volume, whereas the digital mode of publication (online medium) would see a phenomenal increase in sales volume.
Publishers would now become “content owners.” For example, Elsevier has now transformed its business model completely. It has now projected itself as an analytics business. Thus, publishers are now using all facets of digital publishing to attract readership and to retain their esteemed base of researchers.
2. Frictionless access to scholarly communications through off-campus mode
Most common causes of friction were the long waiting periods of publication. Currently, digital publishing is easy with sophisticated online technologies. There are many online channels for communications, which are speedy and effective. Collaboration between researchers of different institutions is smoother through online medium.
The causes of friction would be resolved soon as we soon see important alliances going through. For example, the emergence of hybrid publishing model and megajournals implies that scientific research is not restricted under any paywall. Increased visibility of articles would mean better citation rates of work, improving the career of researchers.
3. Scientific research collaborations would be better with disruptive models of publishing
Both Sci-Hub and ResearchGate claim to be independent publishers, which have helped collaborations between researchers all over the world at minimal cost. They have managed to provide free access to many research papers, which were hidden behind hefty pay-wall of SCI (science citation index) journals.
These companies have been promising start-ups that have disrupted the exploitative model of publishing. However, Sci-Hub has been convicted of copyright infringement by SCI publishers, such as Elsevier, Springer Nature, and American Chemical Society.
There have been several negotiations between ResearchGate and SCI publishers to avoid copyright infringement issues. Nevertheless, the general consensus is that research articles should be completely accessible to researchers and general public all over the world. Publishers have now realized that they can no longer restrict access to science research articles under a hefty pay-wall. New models of publishing are being developed to find a middle path between independent and SCI publishers.
4. The emphasis of research communications would now be on authors
The ecosystem of research communications would be now dependent completely on authors. Consider the significantly growing trend of preprints, which has become immensely popular among researchers.
Preprints of research works are now being “owned” by authors. In other words, the author now retains the copyright to his or her work and not the publisher. All journal publishers are being pressurized for preprints, which are considered as the cornerstone of scientific communications.
5. Journal centered ecosystem of scientific communications would be disrupted by author-centered mode of research communications
Currently, several digital tools have been developed to initiate collaboration among researchers in real-time; the mode of research communication has now become author-centric in nature. The traditional mode of journal articles is now being subjected to criticism as it has never evolved beyond PDF format even in the digital age.
The false-positive results are never presented in any of the research papers, which is important information for use in future works. The center of engagement has now shifted from journals to scientific researchers, that is, authors. To accommodate this significant change in scientific communications, journals would have to adopt content driven models of publishing.
In this case, everything related to a research study would be included in the article. This includes false-positive results, statistical data, etc. The article would have to be freely visible to the general public through the online publishing medium.With this collaborative approach, the journal publisher would no longer have an upper-hand. It would be a platform for collaborating scientific research through an expert navigating panel. Cross-reference of articles would be also possible through interconnectivity.
6. Articles would no longer be considered as mere “research objects”
The current format of manuscript articles would no longer in the near future. The final published work would be an important component of a research field. Although the article and journal would still be relevant in the near future, the format of manuscript would be dramatically different. A wide range of outputs would be incorporated and the changes would reflect research work developments in real-time.
7. A dramatic increase in preprints of life sciences
In life-sciences, the demand for preprints has been increasing exponentially. With passing year, the demand for preprints would either double or quadruple. In the first quarter of 2018, a preprint service known as medRxiv was launched specifically for medical papers. Thus, a new ecosystem of preprints would be developed for life sciences.
8.The popularity of open peer review would increase exponentially
The popularity of open peer review would increase tremendously, that is, the names of peer reviewers would not be masked under the term “anonymous.” Thus, the transparency of the system would be improved; biasing against non-native English authors would be stopped and promotion of bad science would also be stopped. Peer review is the base of scientific research and there would be a fixed set of standards for propagating the same.
9. Emergence of new standards of publication New standards of publications would be developed in the near future. Authors, publishers, and librarians would be able to collaborate and communicate in a much better way with these standards. For example, authors and publishers are impacted by data citation tools. Editors, reviewers, and production are impacted by “open reviews” of manuscripts. Librarians and publishers use the tool COUNTER 5. Preprint services affect authors and editors.
10. Smaller publishers increase collaboration through new initiatives and alliances
Manuscript Common Approach (MECA) is a collaborative initiative created by publishers of small societies; this platform adds value to academic work. Through this platform, permission is sought from authors before transferring and exchanging content from their respective manuscript. Another similar initiative is the Life Science Alliance.
11. Scholarly content would predominantly be accessed by mobile search
According to Google’s latest data trends, scholarly content is now being increasing searched through mobile devices; this disparity between mobile and static device search is striking (50% vs 10%) for scholarly content. In scholarly communication, the “new data” is being accessed from Google scholar by mobile devices. The transfer of data from desktop devices has declined steadily. Therefore, publishers should now create responsive websites that are compatible with mobile devices.
12. Applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will create and drive change in all aspects of the workflow
Currently, the demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications is increasing steadily; this holds true even for the scholarly market. The needs of readers, authors, and editors would be met by AI applications. With these AI applications, articles would be read by machines; moreover, some elements could even be re-written by machines. This would be the future of science communication, something which felt like science fiction just a few years ago. With the help of AI, we can immensely improve the “detailed-oriented” approach of reviewing a research article. Specific content could be “micro-targeted” to suit the needs of specific research studies.