Scholarly Communications

More in this section >

Digital technologies have transformed how knowledge is embodied, organized, disseminated, and preserved.  Use of these technologies has the potential to expand and equalize access to cultural and scholarly resources across sectors of society.  

Mission and Goals

The Scholarly Communications program assists research libraries, archives, museums, universities, presses, and arts organizations that seek to realize this potential, and thereby to further our collective understanding of societies and cultures around the world.  The Scholarly Communications program promotes the common good by supporting the creation, dissemination, use, and preservation of original sources, interpretive scholarship in the humanities, and other scholarly and artistic materials.  The program aims to develop the sustainable tools, organizations, and networks of scholars and other professionals needed for these purposes.  In pursuit of these goals, the Scholarly Communications grant portfolio includes ambitious, multi-year, multi-stage, collaborative grants that promise to change scholarly practice in ways that advance teaching, research, preservation, and publication.  However, the Foundation manages the funding of these high-risk, high-reward projects by insisting on a step-by-step, phased funding approach for planning, proof-of-concept, implementation, and integration into the broader system of scholarly communication.

New areas and strengthened emphases include:

  • A multi-pronged plan to assist the evolution of academic publishing in the Internet age
  • Preservation of digital scholarship and collections, with a special emphasis on born-digital publications
  • Support for digitizing Hidden Collections and making them broadly accessible
  • A global collections initiative to provide access to non-English language resources

Capturing History, 280 Characters at a Time 

After Ferguson, archivists Bergis Jules and Edward Summers created DocNow to preserve social media posts, enabling activists to document the world’s most important social and political movements.


Preserving Social Media and Internet Art, Before Platforms Become Obsolete 

Rhizome’s Webrecorder software is used to archive complex, interactive websites and new media art for future use and scholarship.


Correspondence Archives in the Age of Email 

Senior Program Associate Kristen C. Ratanatharathorn on the US-UK task force currently developing a framework to address the challenges of preserving email correspondence.


Working Against the Clock to Preserve Time-Based Media 

Audiovisual content, the fastest growing segment within archives and special collections, presents distinct conservation challenges. These initiatives aim to ensure that materials remain available for future generations.


Monograph Publishing in the Digital Age 

Donald J. Waters, senior program officer for Scholarly Communications, on incorporating modern digital practices into monograph publication of scholarship in the humanities.


Shining New Light on Hidden Collections 

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative is improving access to collections in small repositories


An Interview with Donald J. Waters 

“There’s a revolution taking place,” says Donald J. Waters. Digital technologies are dramatically expanding and equalizing access to resources in the humanities, he notes, with vast implications for the entire field. As the Mellon Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Scholarly Communications, Waters has been helping to support the people in the forefront of this revolution.


How is Digital Humanities Saving the Past for Our Future? 

Perhaps one of the most refined traditions of data curation in the humanities is the publication of evidence in the form of scholarly editions. In the last decade, the digital environment has been enabling scholars to extend the form and function of this essential tool. Mellon’s grantmaking seeks to assist in accelerating some of these changes.


All Scholarly Communications News >