Scholarly communication is the process by which academics, scholars, and researchers publish and disseminate their research.
According to the website of the Bernard Becker Medical Library of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, scholarly communication is best defined as "the creation, transformation, dissemination and preservation of knowledge related to teaching, research and scholarly endeavors."
Scholarly communication issues include the economics of scholarly book and journal publication, author rights, new models of publishing such as open access, institutional repositories, rights associated with access to federally funded research, and the preservation of our intellectual assets.
The traditional model of scholarly communication involves submission of a work for review and approval. Once published, institutions, particularly libraries, then purchase the published works from commercial publishers and provide access to their patrons.
Due to increasing costs of works from commercial publishers, libraries have had to consider new models for the acquisition and dissemination of scholarly research. This process of ever-increasing journal costs and the library response is often referred to as the "journals crisis" but it is a phenomena that has been developing for some time.
A good bit of data has been assembled around this issue. Here are some links for further information about journal pricing and how this affects scholarly communication: