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Introduction to Scholarly Communication

This resource is licenced under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence by Claire Sewell, the Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries.


Welcome to this online resource introducing scholarly communication. The landscape of research has changed dramatically in the first years of the 21st century and this has had an impact both on researchers and the library services which support them. This interactive resource will guide librarians through some of the key changes and the reasons behind them to better equip them to develop services which assist researchers with the range of tasks they now face.

Time commitment

This unit should take between 30 - 40 minutes to complete.

This resource is aimed at academic library staff in the UK who are new to working in research support or need to refresh their knowledge of a particular topic. In many institutions research support may only be one part of a larger role and it can be hard to develop a knowledge of the basics. This resource is designed to fill in these potential gaps. Learners can work through the whole resource in sequence or just dip into individual units as they need to. All of the units begin with a clear outline of the topic together with a list of anticipated learning outcomes. Within each unit learners will find optional reflective activities which encourage them to think about how the topic in question relates to their own work environment. The scholarly communication landscape varies by country so although the basics will remain the same, learners from outside the UK should investigate their local policies and practices.

Learners can navigate through the unit in a number of ways. The ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons below can be used to move through the unit in a linear way, the tabs on the left of the screen will allow learners to jump to a particular page and the homepage can be reached at any time by using the ‘Return home’ button.


   This unit will cover the following topics:

  • What is scholarly communication?
  • The 21st century researcher
  • The research lifecycle
  • The 21st century library
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • Introduction to Open Research


   At the end of this unit learners will:

  • Be able to define scholarly communication
  • Outline how their library service supports researchers
  • Explain the reasons why this is an area of growing importance to academic libraries in the 21st century

Select the Next button below to move on to the next section of the unit.

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