Breaking News! Stop the Presses!!! OMGWTF!!!!
The AAA has breathlessly announced that it is going open access!! American Anthropology and Anthropology News will now be Open Access. (um, but just those issues between 1888 and 1973).
So, this is great, really, despite my snarkiness. The AAA has realized that opening up 35 year old scholarship is not a threat to their publishing revenue, and it may well improve public understanding of anthropology. This is a huge step forward.
However, two things, 1) isn’t this already the case? Where are we with this decision, given that the AAA seems already to have said that re-publishing content prior to 1964 is not necessarily improper? What am I missing? and 2) It sucks that this is being called “open access”— it is not, not by any contemporary definition of the term. I think it is quite appropriate that the press release says “AAA creates ‘open access’ to anthropological research”– I’m not sure whether that’s an appropriate use of quotation marks, grammatically speaking, but it should make readers double take as to whether or not this is really open access or not.
“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.
“Pointed answer”? Whatever. I hope it is the first of many steps that will start to come a little more rapidly, I sincerely do. I realize it’s almost predictable, for AAA executives, that I and others might react this way, but make no mistake: what is happening here is a dissolution of the term open access and a pretty shameless use of this opportunity to issue a press release that might repair some of the damage the association has suffered on this issue. Fair enough, they are trying. Try harder, I say.