Comments on: How do we mobilize anthropologists to support open access? Notes and Queries in Anthropology Sun, 02 Aug 2015 11:34:39 +0000 hourly 1 By: Kerim Sat, 11 Feb 2012 08:25:19 +0000 @Mike, Rex did try to create a “branded waypoint” with Mana’o, but it never really took off. It is a lot of work to get something like this off the ground, but I agree that it is needed.

By: Mike Antares Sat, 11 Feb 2012 08:19:07 +0000 There are a lot of wonderful suggestions here. It’s heartening to see such a cry for OA, an issue that’s been dear to my heart since I first entered the field.

Notwithstanding legal gray areas, I think there are some more radical (as in avant-garde, not anarchical – though I could be convinced to see merit in the latter too) ideas to consider. One of my favorite websites is the Open Anthropology Cooperative (OAC), and another is

One thing the field is missing, I think – and I mean no slight to any of the great blogs and sites in existence – is a recognized (branded?) waypoint on the web. Think ArXiv,, etc. I think a UX/UI-savvy repository would be a very good thing. It is, presumably, a years-long project, but quite possibly a worthy one.

Media programs would be another good way to cover relevant research openly. For example, Seattle has an all-online radio station (that may one day be supplemented by a lo-power FM), and though it’s volunteer-run, I’ll be starting up a regular ethnomusicology feature, where I cite and recount work as it relates to musical genres/styles/cultures. And you can bet it will be OA stuff. Also, while I’m there, it can be a good time to talk about the issue.

Which reminds me, have you written your campus newspaper lately? As with so many things, this issue may still be pretty insular to anthropologists, though clearly other fields feel similarly.

And does anyone want to take lead on starting up the Open Access Anthropology Conference? It can be held in the city of your choosing. Or it can tag along with other existing conferences/festivals (has anyone pitched a SXSW panel?). It can happen once a quarter, once a year, or what have you. But the conference exists as both the issue and the forum.

One other thought it a more dedicated publishing source – online, or in print – but distributed widely and on donation (not subscription). This format works well for community tabloids and large format magazines alike (The Sun, Adbusters). In that, curated blog posts, relevant reviews and up-and-coming OA research is all mixed in. Photos too.

OA is exciting, and we’re the ones holding all the magic formulae here – I am curious indeed to watch some of the turns ahead for the field.

And thanks for the opportunity to share some of these thoughts.


By: Megan Fri, 03 Feb 2012 03:26:03 +0000 2 ideas:

1) What about trying to pass a resolution at the annual business meeting? We could target committees and sub-divisions of the organization that would likely be in support of Open Access (like NAPA and the Interest Group on NGOs and Non-Profits) ahead of time, to get more folks involved and on board. Even if we can’t get folks to pass it, it would get the attention of more members.

2) I also mentioned to some folks in the past (after the last #AAAFail) that perhaps we should create an Interest Group for Anthropology Online. What about a Digital Anthropology Interest Group, made up of people interested in Open Access and Public Discourse? If we create an interest group we can build up and get ourselves a place at the table.

You need 225 people to start a section, so an Interest Group, which only needs 25, seems like the easier starting point. Being an interest group would also give us the authority to hold a ‘special event’ at the annual meeting, in addition to sessions. Would could use that as an opportunity to organize and be seen.

By: Lowie Fri, 03 Feb 2012 00:39:14 +0000 @ Matt. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks.

By: Jason Antrosio Thu, 02 Feb 2012 20:09:55 +0000 Hi Matt,

Many thanks again for this comprehensive and insightful picture.

There are definitely structural impediments, but as you allude in your last paragraph, one possible advantage is we are dealing with a relatively small organization and what must be a limited number of votes.

I’m now checking out the AAA open leadership positions. We of course are way past the nomination deadline of October 2011, but certainly as voting nears we could ask for additional statements on Open Access from candidates to the relevant position. Those could be posted–along with the “potted” statements, to be fair–so there might be a concerted electoral push on these issues.

By: Matt Thompson Thu, 02 Feb 2012 16:20:46 +0000 @Jason – In order to get the AAA to change course we would have to address the Executive Board not the sections.

One way we could do that would be to recruit and nominate associate professors at name-brand institutions who are, at least, well known to the small cohort that comprises their subfield. This will be difficult for many reasons: (1) most folks don’t like committee work, they would rather pursue their own agendas like research, so there won’t be a lot of enthusiastic candidates out there; (2) while our number one issue is OA the Executive Board has to do a hundred and one other things, so even if you did find some knights in shining armor to send off to do battle they’d wind up investing a lot of their time doing non-OA related business; (3) although Bill, the Executive Director, is unpopular in some circles he’s a bit like a City Manager – being unpopular is in his job description – and nobody wants to really go through the hassle of hiring a new director, think of how hard it is to get 10-30 faculty to agree on a hire, now imagine that scaled out to the entire AAA and you get the picture; (4) once you get your team on the Executive Board its still up to the President to make appointments to the communications committee which has authority over the publications committee, and the only people they put on the publications committee are people who have actual editorial and managerial experience in the publishing industry.

So in conclusion an electoral approach would be a kind of high risk (in terms of energy and attention), low gain (in terms of probable outcome) sort of venture. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, but that, realistically, the type of change we’re imagining is going to be generational. If we could get a sympathetic ear on the Executive Board (the student seat, even) then we could start to plant the seed of the idea, a seed which could, over the course of years, take root and start to grow – this, perhaps more than REVOLUTION, is what we’ll wind up with.

The black box, the unknown, is still: who do you recruit to run? It’s not really clear to me what motivates scholars to make this commitment. Is it just a feather in their cap? Is the feeling, “Well somebody’s got to do it,” and now is their turn to offer service? Or do they have a vision and want to mold the Association to that?

And then there’s the electorate. The rank-and-file who vote (or don’t) and what motivates them to chose one candidate over another. Is it just a popularity contest? If it is, could we make into something else with a space like Savage Minds engaging in the electoral process? Anyone who has actually sat down to read the potted statements candidates make on the ballots could tell you there’s got to be a better way for membership to engage the board. Maybe we should start to “cover” the AAA elections like they matter, because apparently they do.

By: Jason Antrosio Thu, 02 Feb 2012 03:09:22 +0000 @Matt – Thank you for this astute analysis. What do you think of the prospects of changing the AAA from the inside as you had suggested? Can you see a feasible timetable for electoral takeover and might that work? Or are the alternative venues the best approach?

By: Matt Thompson Thu, 02 Feb 2012 02:48:23 +0000 @Lowie – getting the sections to band together to share in the upkeep of a portal or OA venue is not a feasible option. (1) The sections do not actually hold their own money, the AAA holds it for them and they have to request that the Association disperse it. We can’t assume that the AAA would give out collected dues to pursue ends that are directly against its stated policies. (2) The sections don’t really have a good track record of cooperation. Furthermore there is a great deal of inequality in terms of their prestige, membership size, and financial resources: SCA isn’t going to let SOLGA tell them what to do, AES doesn’t follow ALLA. The big boys are going to want to be in the drivers seat and, frankly, they’re more conservative and cautious than the smaller groups.

I think the best recourse for advocates of OA is to support existing OA venues (like Hau) or to start new venues outside the umbrella of the AAA… unless we can somehow change the AAA from the inside. Given the renewed contract with Wiley and today’s statements from the Executive Director its obvious that the support just isn’t there. Unless the membership pushes back or the rank-and-file start caring about OA, I would anticipate that it will be this way for the foreseeable future.

But the idea that the same sections that have print deals with Wiley and that never have anything to do with one another in their business meetings will somehow band together and support OA against the AAA’s wishes when the AAA holds the purse strings is highly improbable.

By: Greg Downey Thu, 02 Feb 2012 02:44:19 +0000 Kerim —
Possibly. If they don’t know about it, do we educate them? How about a flyer to be distributed WIDELY at the next AAA meetings in SF and to our own departments?

Maybe the headline could be, ‘The AAA Exec wants to make sure your research doesn’t get out of university libraries, unless Wiley-Blackwell gets PAID!’

I don’t want to make it too personal, but they came out and spoke in our names…

By: Kerim Thu, 02 Feb 2012 00:46:04 +0000 Thanks for all the wonderful comments. I think there are a lot of great ideas about how to make Open Access succeed, but my fear is that most people in the AAA don’t know, understand or care about OA. Many of these solutions seem to presuppose that everyone in the AAA cares as much about OA as the readers of this blog, and I don’t think that is the case. Even if people read and link to HAU – will they realize or understand that it is based on a different publishing paradigm? I’m not so sure… Some good survey data might help us get a grasp of what people know/think/feel about OA among the broader membership, but that would be a big undertaking. Still, I think we should be finding ways to make OA an issue that everyone cares about enough to do all the things people have suggested.

By: Lowie Thu, 02 Feb 2012 00:36:53 +0000 I think Brad Weiss (see comment at Neuroanthropology, link below) is on to something:

“Each [AAA] section that publishes collects DUES, and some of that funding could readily be used to subsidize open access publishing, esp.if it is entirely virtual, and sections work together to share the costs of maintaining a portal.”

I think sections such as the Society for Medical Anthropology who have a number of researchers familiar with the NIH open access repository model might be particularly open to this sort of action, yet their leadership remains silent as far as I can tell.

By: John Thu, 02 Feb 2012 00:28:50 +0000 Depositing scholarship online – there is still Mana’o:

and SSRN has for some time expressed interest in an Anthropology, I think it’s just a matter of getting a committed team of editors together.

By: Ryan Wed, 01 Feb 2012 23:39:27 +0000 @Matt Thompson:

Matt, you are a genius. I think your suggestion is right on the mark.


“As an up and coming academic, I’d be willing to put my career on the line and submit articles to only OA journals.”

EXACTLY! Why even think about publishing with any of the non-OA journals when there are all these problems, politics, and issues? I have been thinking along the same lines as you Jeremy, and have the same questions about you when it comes to WHICH OA journals to go for. There was some discussion about this here on SM a couple months ago, and Jason Jackson provided some good tips about which OA journals to check out. I’ll dig into that and maybe we can start putting some sort of overview together. What do you think? I like this idea.


I like the idea of posting somewhere like, or something similar. What about trying to get more anthros on the SSRN (link)? Would that be possible? I really like how people post pre-press/working papers there. I am all for helping to look into something like this.

By: Jeremy Trombley Wed, 01 Feb 2012 23:24:25 +0000 As an up and coming academic, I’d be willing to put my career on the line and submit articles to only OA journals. I say this in part because I have a strong feeling that those who would be evaluating my credentials would understand the value of OA publishing and recognize the value of my scholarship no matter what journal it was published in. I know not everyone in my position is so confident, but I’m an optimist, I suppose. However, I don’t even know what OA journals are out there and how good they are. Is there a list somewhere that we can consult and point our colleagues in order to show what’s available?

By: Adam Van Arsdale Wed, 01 Feb 2012 23:13:22 +0000 I also support Matt’s suggestion. I was disappointed with the AAA/Science issues a year ago, and my response was simply to become more involved in the organization by giving a talk at this past year’s meeting, co-organizing a proposed session for next year’s meeting, and putting myself up for an at-large position in the BAS section of AAA. I wish AAA’s decision had come earlier so I could have made opposition to it part of my platform statement.