Category Archives: AAA OA Policy

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:

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.

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:

AAA (and Selected Peers) Undertake OA Research: The Press Release

As reported on Open Access News, the AAA has announced reciept of a $50,000 grant from Mellon to fund study of the implications of OA for society publishers in the humanities and social sciences.  Find the press release here (at the AAA website) but note also Peter Suber’s comments, here.

For those who cannot get enough text clouds, here is the release remixed at

AAA ‘goes OA’: The emphasis should be on ‘first step’

(cross posted from Savage Minds)

I think the story of the day is clearly the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) decision to release some of its content open access (OA). And since this is my blog rather than leave my thoughts about the decision as a comment to his entry I thought I’d give my opinions an entry of their very own…

Amazingly, I agree with Bill Davis that this is an ‘important first step in answering the call for un-gating anthropological knowledge’ — although I’d put the emphasis on ‘first step’. There have been two main issues in making anthropology more open. The first is ethical: we in the open access community have been arguing for some time that open access is the right thing to do according to values at the heart of scholarship, and after some time the AAA has clearly gotten this message. No argument there. The second issue is financial: the AAA has been reluctant to open content because it believed its business model hinged on selling content to people. The OA community, on the contrary, has argued that 1) the biggest threat to the AAA business model is the AAA’s lack of capacity to act in any form, and 2) in any case, there is no evidence that making material open decreases revenues. So if the ethical imperative has been clear, there has been debate about the financial end.

My guess is that the AAA has discussed the issue with Wiley-Blackwell (WB) and WB has told them what the OA community has told them — their revenue does not come from selling content, or at least not huge chunks of old content. So WB and OA are probably sending the same message to the AAA: there is no need to restrict _all_ content, and judicious inclusion of OA in your business model is financially sustainable providing.

Is this a big deal? It is hard to say. First, opening Anthropology News is trivial — it should have been done a long time ago, and everyone has agreed about this since the days when I served on the AnthroSource Steering Committee. The AAA should not be congratulated on taking four years to implement a change that could have taken a week.

Secondly, a 35 year window gives the world access to _most_ of American Anthropologist, including some of the most important work in our discipline. At first glance, this is not just good news, it is utterly superb news and the AAA should be commended for doing the right thing. But there are still lots of important questions to be answered: what license will this material be released under? In what form will it be made available? Can it be included in other repositories or only downloaded from the AAA website? Hasn’t the AAA already done this? In sum, this is not as big a deal as the AAA paints it, and there is still plenty of time for this good news to turn sour. We will all be watching the AAA closely to see that this resolution is implemented sanely.

There is one other thing to note: This decision clearly represents the success of the OA community’s decision to hold the AAA accountable, in public, for its actions. I honestly do not think this decision would have been made if the OA community had not called out the AAA and demanded to know what the hell it thought it was doing. In 2003 the AAA was planning to be a ‘change agent’ in the world of scholarship. Five years later, it has become a reactive institution that slowly implements the changes demanded of it by a vibrant and active community of scholars that are moving forward without it. That the AAA responsive is good. That its internal workings cannot be used to produce this sort of leverage, or to become the locus of new and innovative projects remains disappointing.

The AAA OA Plan: The Press Release

The following is a press release from the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Find it online here.

AAA Creates “Open Access” to Anthropological Research

In a groundbreaking move aimed at facilitating greater access for the global social science and anthropological communities to 86 years of classic, historic research articles, the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association announced today that it will provide, free of charge, unrestricted content previously published in two if its flagship publications – American Anthropologist and Anthropology News.

The initiative, among the first of its kind in the humanities- and social science-based publishing environment and made in coordination with publishing partner Wiley-Blackwell, will provide access to these materials for the purposes of personal, educational and other non-commercial uses after a thirty-five year period.

Starting in 2009, content published from 1888 to 1973, will be available through AnthroSource, the premier online resource serving the research, teaching, and professional needs of anthropologists. Previously, this information was only available via AAA association membership, subscription or on a so-called “pay per view” basis.

“This historic move, initiated by the needs and desires of our worldwide constituency, is our association’s pointed answer to the call for open access to our publications. This program, I believe, is an important first step in answering the call to un-gating anthropological knowledge,” AAA Executive Director Bill Davis said in a statement issued today.

The initiative, which will be re-evaluated by internal AAA committees in the next year (the Committee on Scientific Publication as advised by the Committee for the Future of Electronic Publishing), may be expanded in the future.

“Our Association is committed to the widespread dissemination of anthropological knowledge,” notes Oona Schmid, AAA Director of Publishing “and our Executive Board is acting to support this goal in two ways: supporting the sustainability of our publishing program and facilitating access to more than eight decades of studies and content in the discipline.”