Tag Archives: open access week 2015

What a cooperative proposal means for the AAA

Social media was a-twitter (see what I did there?) today with an important statement about the future of anthropology publishing posted at both Cultural Anthropology and in the latest number of HAU. But what precisely is this post about? What are the broader politics that form its context, and what is its point?

The basic idea is this: We have long known that the American Anthropological Association is unable and/or unwilling to innovate on its own. Most of the developments in open access anthropology have happened outside of the AAAs structure. Sure, the AAA has tried various things such as a faux-open access journal and open access book reviews. But its core business model has been to throw in its lot with a large corporate publisher.

Our recent proposal to the AAA marks an important watershed in open access anthropology because it represents something new. Now, open access is not only growing outside of the AAA’s auspices, it is actually feeding back into the AAA itself. Instead of just going its own way, the open access community is now saying to the AAA: “You can’t develop a robust open access business model on your own. But what if we developed one for you? What if we could prove to you that there is a financially sustainable way for you to run your publishing unit? If we build it, will you come?”

My guess is that, no, the AAA will not endorse the model. The AAA has published American Anthropologist for over a hundred years, and their fundamental goal is to make sure that it continues for another hundred years. In the past couple of years the AAA has done a good job of building capacity, but it is still a conservative institution which is very risk averse.

But we can hope. And hopefully the cooperative proposal we have set out will receive lots of pushback from the AAA and people in the publishing industry to tell us that It Cannot Be Done, You Don’t Understand The Numbers, and so forth. This will only lead us to sharpen our argument, gather more data, and make an even stronger case. And — if you don’t mind my saying so — I think the open access movement deserves a lot of kudos of continuing to press its case with an institution that it very easily could have walked away from. In the end, the only way to test the business model is to actually try it, and I hope that someday we can prove to the AAA that our proposals are indeed feasible. If we do not, it will not be for lack of trying on our part.

Happy Open Access Week!

This week is Open Access week! In fact, by the time you read this it will already be Tuesday or Wednesday of Open Access Week because I’m not getting to writing this post until Monday PM Honolulu time. But regardless of how far into it you are: Happy open access week!

Open Access Week is a time to celebrate Open Access, get people involved in Open Access opportunities (like the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon) and discuss the challenges that Open Access faces in the future.

A quick google search shows that we’ve been celebrating Open Access Week on this site for at least five years. This year, I hope to spend some of this week demonstrating just how much quality open access anthropology there is online. In particular, I’d like to show that one of the biggest challenges facing open access anthropology is finding and using the huge amount of resources that are out there. In some cases, it’s possible to replace textbooks or anthologies with open access sources — or at least come pretty darn close.

The big challenge is finding a way to curate all of the available material and make it available to other people. This is something that requires time, expertise, and effort. Google searches won’t cut it anymore — we need to build a layer of curation on top of the layer of open access material that is currently available. This week, I hope to provide some examples of how this might get done.

So stay tuned, and until then — happy open access week!