The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) defines scholarly communication as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs."
Scholarly communication is based on a cyclical process in which scholars/researchers share their ideas, findings, and/or expressions of creativity for the purpose of knowledge advancement. Different players are involved in the process, including scholars/researchers, learners, higher education institutions, research centers, funding agencies, publishers, and libraries.
In the document, Principles and Strategies for the Reform of Scholarly Communication, ACRL notes that "[o]ne of the fundamental characteristics of scholarly research is that it is created as a public good to facilitate inquiry and knowledge. A substantial portion of such research is publicly supported, either directly through federally-funded research projects or indirectly through state support of researchers at state higher-education institutions. In addition, the vast majority of scholars develop and disseminate their research with no expectation of direct financial reward."