Stewardship of the Scholarly Record

Brian Schoettlander

Brian Schoettlander, Audrey Geisel University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego, kicked off Friday’s plenary sessions with an in-depth review of the scholarly record, how it has changed in today’s online environment, and its stewardship (careful and responsible management).

In a 1990 article in Library Resources & Technical Services, Ross Atkinson defined the scholarly record:

The Scholarly Record, according to Atkinson

He also drew heavily on a report by Maron and Smith, Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication, who defined the types of scholarly resources.  As recently as two years ago, electronic books were not on the list, but they probably would be included today.

We used to  know well how to manage scholarly records, but once data sources began to emerge, the concept changed because data sources are less stable.  Blogs, discussion forums, and professional and academic hubs have been added to the list of types of digital scholarly resources.  These are unstable and emergent, and it is not clear whose responsibility it is to steward them.

There are many stewardship models (do a Google Scholar search and also see articles in the International Journal of Digital Curation to find articles on them).  They all  conceive of stewardship as an ongoing series of activities involving multiple dimensions–information types, format types, process types and, actor/stakeholder types.  Each of these dimensions is multidimensional, which results in a long list of things that needed to be attended to in stewardship.

Here is Schoettlander’s stewardship model for the scholarly record:

Stewardship Model

The merger of digital and print has been a disruption of traditional activities, which has led to uncertainty about what should be stewarded and who has the responsibility to do it.  In the analog world, we could just steward outputs because they were not coupled to their inputs.  In the digital world, that is not the case, but the input and output don’t need to be decoupled.  This calls for a much more expansive view of what is encompassed by the scholarly record and who the stakeholders are.  Librarians are the natural stewards of the scholarly record because of their expertise in curation.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

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