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N°15 | Scientific information and knowledge dissemination: dealing between fragmentations and intermediaries

Call for papers of La Revue française des Sciences de l’information et de la communication directed by Hans Dillaerts & Chérifa Boukacem-Zeghmouri | 31 december 2018

Notes de l’auteur

Edited by Hans DILLAERTS (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, LERASS-CERIC) Mail :, & Chérifa BOUKACEM-ZEGHMOURI (Université de Lyon, Lyon 1- Elico) Mail :

Not a week goes by without press releases and/or media coverage about scientific information and scholarly communication, relaying latests events, evolution, breaking points, or even a transformation. Among the most prevalent topics the intensification and broadening of Openness (Chartron & Schöpfel, 2017) (Neylon, 2017), the social academic networks increasingly prominent, issues raised by predatory journals taking advantage of researchers confronted to the “Publish or Perish” context (Tzarnas, 2014), and also piracy libraries incarnating “Robin Hood” movement (Cabanac, 2016) for research communities in need of a direct and un unlimited access to research.

These topics reflects the recent developments in the world of scientific information, mainly in STEM fields, even if the social and humanity sciences are also significant. Scientific literature covering these developments shows that, in addition to information and communication sciences, several disciplines are seizing the stakes of these evolutions. This special issue therefore aims to propose original papers dealing with various modes and models of design, production, mediation and valorization of scientific knowledge to present a state of the art of current research activities about this topic : in the field of information and communication sciences of course, but also, from an interdisciplinary perspective, sociology of science, economics, political science, history of science, anthropology, ethics, cultural sciences and Sciences and Technology Studies (Lamy & Saint-Martin, 2007). These multidisciplinary aspects do resonate with the growing complexity of the topic.

Without casting doubt on the contribution and relevance of the multi-disciplinary approaches, the added value of information and communication sciences lies in the analysis of the info-communicational processes, summarized below :

The growing fragmentation and hybridization of models and processes of knowledge production, dissemination and sharing within the field of scientifique information and stakeholders in charge of knowledge dissemination (Boukacem-Zeghmouri, 2015a). Also, granularity of scientific information, hitherto linked to the scientific article, is refined to its content and emancipates to a certain extent from the very format of the scientific article. Scientific contents are diversifying and the issue of researches on search engines, citation and indexing and not to mention, the different tools and channels to share and disseminate digital content. Hence, new models of scholarly journals and platforms are emerging to disseminate and enhance the different levels of granularity of these scientific contents.

These transformations represent a new phase of industrialization of the field of scientific information, and are correlated to the rise of Web intermediaries and public initiatives. In comparison with traditional frames of scholarly publishing, theses initiatives are providing new ways of dissemination of information and scientific knowledge.

These two trends are intertwined and reinforce each other so that new issues are arising. In order to invest them all in all their complexity, the present thematic issue welcomes theoretical and empirical papers, from both researchers, librarians and information professionals, dedicated to shed light on the occuring changes.

The expected proposals must be linked to one of the axis described below :

Axis 1. New intermediaries and former mediators of scientific information : confrontations or adjustments?

The first axis welcomes contributions analyzing tensions between historical stakeholders of scientific information (publishers, libraries, subscription agencies) and new intermediaries (search engines, social networks, Gold publishers) (Boukacem-Zeghmouri, 2015b). The former are more often questioned in their “usefulness”, while latters are questioned in their “legitimacy”. Expected papers within this area of work will therefore analyze differentiated strategies of uptake value of these players to compete, coexist, and even in some cases cooperate, whatever governance modes of knowledge produce paradoxical injunctions (Dillaerts, 2017). Therefore, two types of issues are at the heart of this line of research. First, the transformation of historical stakeholders roles and missions who try to maintain their position by developing new content and new services. Secondly, strategies deployed by intermediaries to gain a foothold in the industry and monetize their value.

Axis 2. Question the design practices of the fragmented scientific document

Axis 2 aims to address a thematic under represented in the literature : impact and influence of increased fragmentation and hybridization of production and dissemination methods of knowledge on the research process and design. Integrated within the publishing models (article of the future, mega journals, data journals), they become a value in its own right for the diversification of production forms and modes by the historical actors, but also the new intermediaires.

This axis is also dedicated to the fragmentation processes effects in the design practices of the researchers, in the Age of Super Science for the STEM fields and in the Age of the Digital Humanities of the Human and Social Sciences. This review is an opportunity to analyze and better understand to what extent these fragmented design practices participate - or not - in open and collaborative research intentionalities (Cotte, 2017). It’s also a question of reporting on an additional mechanism in the professionalization of researchers, which thus contributes to changes in the status of the scientific document.

Axis 3. New skills, new professions for information professionals in the research field

Changes occured to digital scientific information, and exacerbated by Openness discourses, are not without consequences on the reconfiguration of the skills and professions in the fields of scholarly publishing, libraries and scientific research activities. These reconfigurations are enhanced by curricula aimed at the “craftsmen” of contemporary, open and collaborative science.

Research data - with their corollary digital tools, skills and competencies - which have become a real issue for all the players involved in scientific information - are certainly the most representative example of the industrial and institutional challenges raised by these new forms of professionalization (and graduation) (Schöpfel, Prost, 2016, Schöpfel, Prost, Rebouillat, 2016).

However, few papers provide a critical analysis of these reconfigurations that rely on digital technologies to set up both a new labor market and specific regulations to “informationalisation” (Miège, 2004). Axis 3 is thus dedicated to papers which analyze the contribution of professional reconfigurations to those of scientific information.

Axis 4. Collaborative and interdisciplinary promises at the fragmentation area

Among the announcing effects of the discourses by the stakeholders of scientific information (formers and newcomers) about Openness, interdisciplinarity is a value on which discourses converge (Dillaerts, 2014). As well as the platforms develop services and features dedicated to the so-called “collaborative and interdisciplinary” approaches of researchers. At the same time, public policies of scientific research and funding agencies value interdisciplinarity, both respectively for research assessment and for research proposals selection, as criterion of originality and excellence.

In this 4th and last axis, we are expecting papers that aim to question the reality of these announcement effects in terms of collaboration as a paradigm (Bouquillion, 2013). Papers will discuss the articulations and the tensions that exist between the reality of collaboration and interdisciplinary practices of the researchers, as they are entrenched in their scientific and disciplinary culture. On the other hand, we are also welcoming papers that analyze critically the new models of knowledge dissemination (megajournals, augmented articles, scientific blogs, …) intended to promote and convey a more collaborative and interdisciplinary practice of science.


Boudry Christophe, Bouchard, Aline., 2017. Réseaux sociaux académiques et diffusion de la production scientifique des chercheurs en biologie/médecine. L’exemple de ResearchGate. Médecine Sciences 33 (6/7), 647–652. URL :

Boukacem-Zeghmouri Chérifa., 2015a. Mutations dans la sous-filière de la revue scientifique dans les domaines STM : une analyse par les industries culturelles. Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon 1.

Boukacem-Zeghmouri Chérifa., 2015b. Nouveaux intermédiaires de l’information : nouvelles logiques de captation de la valeur. Information, Document, Données (4), 34–35.

Bouquillion Philippe, Miège, Bernard., Moeglin, Pierre., 2013. L’industrialisation des biens symboliques : les industries créatives en regard des industries culturelles. Presses Universitaires de Grenoble.

Cabanac Guillaume (2016). Bibliogifts in LibGen? A study of a text-sharing platform driven by biblioleaks and crowdsourcing. Journal of the Association for Information
Science and Technology
, 67(4):874–884. doi: 10.1002/asi.23445

Chartron Ghislaine, Schöpfel Joachim (dir.) (2017). Libre accès aux publications et sciences ouvertes en débat (numéro thématique). RFSIC,

Cotte, Dominique (2017). Économies scripturaires, formes documentaires et autorité. Réflexions et esquisse d’analyse des architextes de la science ouverte. Communication & Langages (192), pp.117-129.

Dillaerts Hans (2014). Le libre accès et le financement de projets de recherche transversaux : des vecteurs d’interdisciplinarité dans l’économie de la connaissance ? Revue européenne des sciences sociales, vol. 52, n°1

Dillaerts Hans (2017). Ouverture et partage des résultats de la recherche dans l’économie de la connaissance européenne : Quelle(s) liberté(s) de circulation pour l’IST ? Communication et Management, Vol. 14, n°1

Lamy Jérôme, Saint-Martin Arnaud. Un dilemme pratique : sociologie et histoire des sciences au prisme des STS. Carnets de bord en sciences humaines, 2007, pp.52-64.

Miège Bernard, 2004. L’information-communication, objet de connaissance. De Boeck, Bruxelles.

Neylon Cameron., 2017. Openness in scholarship: A return to core values? In: Chan, L., Loizides, F. (Eds.), Expanding Perspectives on Open Science: Communities, Cultures and Diversity in Concepts and Practices. IOS Press, pp. 6–17, URL

Schopfel Joachim, Prost Hélène, 2016. Research data management in social sciences and humanities: A survey at the University of Lille (France). LIBREAS. Library Ideas, 29

Schopfel Joachim, Prost Hélène, Rebouillat Violaine, 2016. Research Data in Current Research Information Systems. 13th International Conference on Current Research Information Systems, CRIS2016, 9-11 June 2016, Scotland, UK, Jun 2016, St Andrews, United Kingdom. Procedia Computer Science 2016, 2016

Tzarnas Stephany, Tzarnas, Chris. D., 2014. Publish or perish, and pay - the new paradigm of Open-Access journals. Journal of Surgical Education 72 (2), 283–285.

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