Communities exist in various forms and fashions. Spiritual, educational, and occupational. This interesting information came to our attention from The Scholarly Kitchen in their article, “Why Scholarly Societies Are Vitally Important to the Academic Ecosystem.”

A community or learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline, profession, or a group of related disciplines, such as the arts or sciences. They can play a critical role in terms of culture and success. When it comes to independent scholarly societies, they are vital to the academic ecosystem, as they are the only community organizations whose sole reason for existence is to provide for the scholars in their academic community.

Many scholarly societies are seeing gradual declines in their membership numbers. The emerging scholars entering academia no longer view joining a society as key to their community role. Many fields are increasingly interdisciplinary, and it may be hard for scholars to identify with any one society. Online social networking may also be providing an alternative means of connecting scholars, with societies not clearly playing a role.

Is the next step a cross-discipline collective action between the many independent scholarly societies with missions and publishing programs globally? Time will tell.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.