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It is now more than 350 years since the publication of the first formal scholarly communication journal 'Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society' in 1665. During the better part of those four centuries research has moved forward: The research community has grown in size, it has diversified both ...

It is now more than 350 years since the publication of the first formal scholarly communication journal 'Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society' in 1665. During the better part of those four centuries research has moved forward: The research community has grown in size, it has diversified both geographically and culturally, and, it has extended into new areas with the birth of entire fields and branches of knowledge that would have been inconceivable to the early participants in research. The scientific paper, by comparison, has changed little in physical format over this period. However, the “technology” around the paper has developed a great deal. The scientific method and peer-review together with the whole “invisible infrastructure” of cultural norms and standards have grown up around the “atom of scholarly communication”, the paper.

And yet, in recent decades, this elegant infrastructure has, for all its well-tested qualities, begun to show its age. While there are many factors that are driving fundamental changes in today’s scholarly communications infrastructure, we highlight four key ones here: i) the increase in public money supporting research and the consequent need for public accountability and access; ii) the globalization of research and subsequent adoption and application of globalized cultural norms; iii) the fundamental change in the relationship between and value of research and the data and technologies that underpin that research; iv) the growing recognition that complex global problems require a mix of interdisciplinary approaches and translation of research into application and impact.

As has been learned in broader non-research-based contexts in the last few years, technologies that are adopted blindly by users can lead to unintended consequences. While, on the one hand, the scholarly communication system needs to meet the challenges of a new era of technology, on the other, the research community should be cautious about accepting new approaches and new technologies to augment or replace a system that has stood the test of time.

This Research Topic aims to bring together perspectives of practitioners, technologists, publishers, and researchers on the challenges and opportunities associated with the changing landscape of scholarly publication and especially around issues of trust in infrastructure. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
• Persistent identifiers
• Governance models
• Use of AI for in peer review and content summarisation
• Use of Blockchain technologies
• Cultural norms around evaluation and ranking

Topic Editor Daniel W Hook is Director of Digital Science and Research Solutions Limited, which either owns or is a shareholder in Altmetric, Dimensions, Figshare, GRID, Ripeta, Symplectic and Overleaf, and is a minority shareholder in IFI Claims, Writefull, Scismic and Gigantum. The other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.

Keywords: Trust, Infrastructure, Technology, Sociology of science, Public engagement


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