The headline on Monday’s announcement seemed impressive: “AAA Creates ‘Open Access’ to Anthropological Research.”
The announcement starts off by calling the new policy of the American Anthropological Association “a groundbreaking move” that would provide “greater access for the global social science and anthropological communities to 86 years of classic, historic research articles.” The problem, critics say, is that the emphasis should have been on the word “historic,” because those 86 years worth of articles aren’t the most recent 86 years. Rather the association will apply its new policy for its flagship journal, American Anthropologist, only 35 years after material was published. The association has created open access to the scholarship of the ’50s and ’60s.
Like Kelty, 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.
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.
On October 7th, I got a press release from the AAA dated, inexplicably, September 17th:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2008
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 American Anthropological Association announced today that it was partially opening access (for content published from 1888 to 1973) to just two of its publications, American Anthropologist and Anthropology News. That is good news. However, as is becoming the norm in American anthropological venues that talk about open access, there seems to be a determined effort to persistently ignore some basic facts about open access journal publishing in anthropology, that puts the AAA at the end of a line, and whose recent move is far from unique and certainly not historic. As I have already detailed here, there is already an abundance of journals all of whose content is open access, and always has been. The information on which I based that post is freely available to any persons who care to take the time to inform themselves on this issue. Perhaps the AAA thinks that its journals are the only “real” ones?
After being “under construction” for a few months, the new website for the OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY PROJECT is now available at:
Since beginning this informal and loosely conceived project, I have become more sensitive to the differences between a blog and a HTML website, of the limitations and advantages of each. I originally intended for openanthropology.org to serve as a back-up for this blog, that is, to serve in a secondary and supportive role. Instead, what I have since realized since I started writing the new site, and completing it finally this week, was that this blog is at best a place of rough work, to be sifted through and selected for final posting on the website. The website then is where work that I consider to be the “best” of this blog is listed, along with additional materials that do not exist on this blog, or that are not clearly visible here.
- Updated: Sun, Oct 5 2008 11:58 AM
Neuroprospecting: pursuit of culture-specific behaviours for neuroscience: the process of searching and extracting potential neuro-behavioural data from cultures.
Beyond the Good Death: The Anthropology of Modern Dying
Journal of American Medical Association (subscription) – Chicago,IL,USA
By James W. Green Recently on National Public Radio, I heard mention of an interesting trend in funeral music. Apparently, in recent years persons planning