Percolated Spiral (c) Jenny Reiswig; image resized from original and used with permission.
The term "scholarly communication" is a general term that covers research, scholarship, and many different areas of academia. A good, general definition comes from the Association of College and Research Libraries:
Scholarly communication is the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs. This document addresses issues related primarily to the formal system of scholarly communication.
One of the fundamental characteristics of scholarly research is that it is created as a public good to facilitate inquiry and knowledge. A substantial portion of such research is publicly supported, either directly through federally-funded research projects or indirectly through state support of researchers at state higher-education institutions. In addition, the vast majority of scholars develop and disseminate their research with no expectation of direct financial reward.