Author Archives: jbj

Open Folklore Links

Those visiting this website may wish to follow discussions of the Open Folklore project happening elsewhere.  Here are some links.

The site itself, with an announcement from the lead partners (IUB Libraries and the AFS) can be found at:

Two detailed blog posts about the project have appeared, one at Savage Minds (here) and one at Archivology (here).

The IUB Media Release is here and a Indiana Daily Student story is here.

I have written several blog posts about the project from my perspective as a participant. These can be found here, here, here, and here.

Our Circulatory System (or Folklore Studies Publishing in the Era of Open Access, Corporate Enclosure and the Transformation of Scholarly Societies)

Just a note to note that I have made public an essay titled “Our Circulatory System (or Folklore Studies Publishing in the Era of Open Access, Corporate Enclosure and the Transformation of Scholarly Societies).” The piece began with a series of posts published on this site in 2008 and was a talk given at the symposium “The Form of Value in Globalized Traditions” organized by the Center for Folklore Studies at the Ohio State University in 2009. It is long (about 5000 words) and can be found on my website here:

Editorial on Commerical and Not-for-Profit Scholarly Publishing

Readers of the Open Access Anthropology blog might have an interest in an opinion essay that I (Jason Baird Jackson) wrote recently. In it, I lay out some modest steps  that scholars interested in changing the direction of scholarly communications might take. The focus is a plea to withdraw from working with commercial publishers. The essay can be found on my website here: . Thanks!

Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity

Readers of Open Access Anthropology will want to check out the announcements for (and press coverage of) the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity that was just announced by Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT and Berkeley.

I just finished speaking to Inside Higher Education about it for a story that they will run tomorrow.  I had not yet read the “OA Compact” statement yet, which added to my nerves about weighing in on it (via a phone interview). I may or may not need to explain myself after the story runs.  Having now read the core documents, I can just state at this stage that I very much support open access and I believe in new kinds of university (college, museum, etc.) investments in it.  I believe that different ways of spending on scholarly communication can change the publishing landscape in good ways, including equitable ways.  My sense of the equities that matter here include not just equity between modes of publication but also social justice issues.  This new development could lead to good of many kinds, but my own preference would be for institutional investments at the journal (or journal program) level rather than at the article/author level.

This scheme will make the literature more accessible to readers, which is a wonderful thing, but in fields like anthropology and folklore studies, where authors can make very important contributions without being attached to major western research universities, it may increase barriers to authorship in unhelpful ways.  It may also, by handing private for-profit publishers a new business model and the cash payments to go with it, continue the current arrangement in which large commercial firms lay claim to ever larger amounts of the commonwealth–overtly in the form of university-paid page charges, and covertly in the form of research-derived IP (often publicly funded), uncompensated editorial work, uncompensated peer-review, unpaid-for office space, equipment, etc. and freely provided graduate assistant-based editorial staff support.

This announcement is big and dramatic.  As with the green OA mandates, it represents a step by some major universities to change the terms under which our publishing system works.  It is a major move for OA.  I like that.  I hope that it prompts renewed discussion of the many big issues at stake.

PS:  Thankfully the statement’s architects acknowledge that a minority of gold OA journals are author-pays journals (contra the AAA and its associates). If the scheme works, I suspect that most gold OA journals will move towards author-pays.  This is one place where I agree with several AAA-sanctioned voices.  The growth of author-pays models could really harm existing authors in anthropology and folklore studies and could make the inclusion of as-yet-unheard from voices that much more difficult.  If this is the path that we wind up taking toward gold OA, we will have to work really hard to build and fund a subsidy (or waiver) system sufficient for the inclusion of the vast range of people (=potential authors) who will not have access to institutional author-fee support.

The Impact of the Web 2.0 World on Scholarly Societies

A friend who is very involved in the leadership of the American Folklore Society  just shared with me a link to James Lappin’s very effective blog post “The Impact of the Web 2.0 World on the Records Management Society.”  While presented as a case study of information science/archives organizations in the UK, its arguments generalize amazingly well and provide valuable food for thought for all scholarly disciplines and societies–including those that the readers of this weblog care (or have given up caring) about.

Vis-a-vis the American Anthropological Association, the post provides a compliment to the arguments presented in a less immediately accessible way in “Anthropology of/in Circulation: The Future of Open Access and Scholarly Societies.”  (As a contributor to it) I am very proud of the later paper, but it represents a dialogue on a range of issues and features a diversity of voices with several overlapping sets of interests. Mr. Lappin’s essay is a single scholar’s view on the ways that scholarly societies should be confronting the challenges and opportunities of a world in which most of their members will have access to web 2.0 tools. His discussions of the growing irrelevance of scholarly societies in the 20th century mode and his case for a new mission for the scholarly society (amplifying member’s voices in public rather than as a provider of members-only benefits of decreasing value) connects especially well with the case that Chris Kelty was making in “Anthropology of/in Circulation.” He also provides and operationalizes a number of do-able  steps of a clear cut sort–a kind of emulate-able game plan that a society leadership would be foolish not to at least give thought to.


I think that this is the week’s big news in scholarly communications issues.  Its not open access, but it is not-for-profit. There is much that could be said.  Hopefully there will be some discussion among anthropologists, especially in light of the AAA’s experiences working with the University of California Press Journals program.  For myself, I will observe again that the Journal’s staff at California were amazing to work with as an editor.  Personal experience aside, it seems that the big question here relates to the meaning of this to ProjectMuse.  Read all about it below (and see the IHE story too):


A new collaboration emerges to improve access to scholarship for faculty, students, and librarians. University of California Press and JSTOR today announced a new effort to invest in a shared online platform and outreach services that promise to create a more seamless, rich online work environment for faculty and students, ease the burden on librarians of negotiating separate license agreements with a multitude of publishers and independent titles, and promote a more cost-effective publishing environment.

August 12, 2009 – Berkeley, CA and New York, NY – University of California Press, the not-for-profit publishing arm of the University of California and JSTOR, the preservation archive and research platform that is part of the not-for-profit ITHAKA, will work in partnership – and encourage others to join them – to make current and historical scholarly content available on a single, integrated platform, to provide a single point of purchase and access for librarians and end users around the world, and to ensure its long-term preservation.

Beginning in 2011, current content from all University of California Press published journals, including those from scholarly societies, will be hosted on a re-designed JSTOR platform. Faculty and students around the world will be able to access all licensed content on JSTOR – current issues, back issues, and a growing set of primary source materials from libraries – easily and seamlessly. JSTOR’s nearly 6,000 library participants worldwide will be able to license the Press’s current journals, either individually or as part of current issue collections, together with JSTOR back issue collections in a single transaction. Continue reading

Scholarly Society-Library Partnerships Webcast Now Online

The video archive version of the recent Association for Research Libraries (ARL) webcast on “Reaching Out to Leaders of Scholarly Societies at Research Institutions” to which I contributed is now available online.  It can be gotten to for free, all that is required is signing in for ARL headcounting purposes.  Watching it in this way provides the same content experienced when the program was being done live.  The event lasted one hour.  IU ScholarWorks Librarian Jennifer Laherty and I were the first of two pairs of speakers.  We present after about five minutes of introduction from the ARL staff organizers who spoke on the general goals of the initiative of which the program was a part.  Q&A follows the second presentation on data projects in astronomy (by Sayeed Choudhury and Robert Hanisch). Find the webcast via a link available here:

In my comments I address briefly my experiences working on scholarly communications issues in anthropology and in folklore studies.

In Search of Anthropology-Friendly Subject Repositories

Not everyone is employed at an institution that has established an stable, standard institutional repository where manuscripts, working papers, white papers, and green OA articles can be deposited. As discusussed on the Open Access Anthropology list, the Mana’o Project (a provisional subject repository for anthropology) is offline, for the time being at least. While discussions aimed at establishing an anthropology subject repository on firm footing continue, it might be good to inventory known repositories in which anthropologists might wish place their work.  Two that I know about have a policy orientation–IssueLab and Policy Archive. Another one of possible interest is the Digital Library of the Commons, a repository for scholarship dealing with commons, common-pool resources, and common property issues.  If you know of other repositories into which scholars in anthropology and neighboring fields could place their work, please leave a comment or link.

Social Science and Humanities Associations Report on Publishing Costs

Readers of the weblog will probably want to check out the following story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  “Humanities Journals Cost Much More to Publish Than Science Periodicals.”  It is available for just a few days before the toll gate closes.  Here is paragraph 1.

It costs more than three times as much to publish an article in a humanities or social-science journal as it does to publish one in a science, technical, or medical, or STM, journal, and the prevailing model used by many publishers of STM journals will not work for their humanities and social-sciences counterparts. Those are some of the eye-opening conclusions released today in a report on an in-depth study of eight flagship journals in the humanities and social sciences.

Find the whole article here:

Corporate Publisher Sage Captures and Encloses Sociology, Spoils the “Good News” by Making Political Science Angry

Inside Higher Education reports today on two developments in social science publishing centered on the large commercial publisher Sage.  In the story available here, we learn that the American Sociological Association, has followed the lead of the AAA and foresaken self-publishing its journals portfolio in lieu of a co-publishing agreement with Sage. This would have been a straight forward story of celebration or mourning (depending on where you stand), were it not co-occuring with the other storyline presented in the IHE story.  A fully Saged owned political science journal–Political Theory–is at the center of a controversy related to a flubbed firing/hiring/replacing of the journal’s editor.  The episode revealed for many political scientists the conflicts built into corporate owned or controlled journals and showed again the misallignment of commercial and scholarly values.  Read all about it and think twice when Sage calls and asks you to take up an editorship.  Thanks IHE.

(Forget open access.  Why again are we are dismantling the university press system and selling/giving away the pieces to these folks?)