2.10 Conclusions and predictions
Many discussions of the future of scholarly publishing have been dominated by economic considerations. Digitization has often been seen as a solution to the "library crisis," which forces libraries to cut down on subscriptions. So far there has been little effect in this area, as pricing trends have not changed much (Odlyzko, 1999).
In the long run it has been clear that print will eventually become irrelevant, aside from any economic pressures, as it is simply too inflexible. Gutenberg's invention imprisoned scholarly publishing in a straitjacket that will be discarded eventually. However, the inertia of the scholarly publishing system is enormous, and so traditional journals have not changed much. They are in the process of migrating to the Web, but operate just as they did in print. However, we are beginning to see new ventures that will lead to new modes of operations. Still, it will be a while before they become a sizable fraction of the total scholarly publishing enterprise.
The large majority of scholarly publications are likely not to change much for several decades. However, there will be growing pressure to make them easily available. In particular, scholars are likely to press ever harder for free circulation and archiving of preprints. The realization will spread that anything not easily available on the Web will be almost invisible. Whether they like it or not, scholars are engaged in a war for the eyeballs and ease of access will be seen as vital.
Ease of access is likely to promote the natural evolution of scholarly work. There will be more interdisciplinary research, and more survey publications. Some of these trends are beginning to appear in the data discussed in this paper, and we are likely to get more confirmation in the next few years.