MEMO TO AAA COMMITTEE ON THE FUTURE OF PRINT AND ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING
K. Fortun/SA memo to CFPEP, 7.23.2010
July 23, 2010
To: AAA Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP)
From: Kim Fortun, Section Assembly Advisory Group
Out-going co-editor, Cultural Anthropology
CFPEP has asked for feedback on AAA’s publishing partner, WB. Mary Gray, Section Assembly Convener, characterized the committee’s charge a bit more broadly, asking advisory group members to
[e]licit “a sense of what the membership wants out of future publishing efforts…. [t]ake the initiative to find out what its peer sections see as important considerations…Ultimately, we are asking this SA Advisory Group to make recommendations for the future of publishing in the AAA with the vested interests of the sections animating those suggestions.” (email 6/21/10)
This memo is organized to first address questions about WB in particular, highlighting issues other than those already covered in the 2010 CFPEP Survey of Editors. It then addresses broader issues in AAA’s publishing efforts, highlighting the different stakeholders that need to be enrolled and supported for AAA publishing to be successful.
The memo is based on discussion with the SCA Board and community, and with editors of AAA and other anthropology journals.
AAA’s contract with Wiley Blackwell
As recognized in the CFPEP Survey of Editors, members have been generally satisfied with WB’s print production services. Continuing concerns include the following:
• It continues to be difficult to discern what actual production costs are. This is important to understand as AAA considers alternative publishing scenarios for the future.
Further, accounting procedures make it difficult to assess change. WB’s May 2009 report for Cultural Anthropology, for example, indicates that production costs are up $2,500 since 2008. WB explained that “the additional costs in 2009 are due to the invoices processed for the first issue of 2010 that were already in production in late 2009.”
• There have been steady, fairly dramatic declines in institutional subscriptions to AAA journals over the last few years. A few examples: American Anthropologist: (2009: 1361; 2008: 1515; 2007: 1683); American Ethnologist (2009: 720; 2008: 809; 2007: 887). Cultural Anthropology (2009: 387; 2008: 445; 2007:485). So all fell about 20% from 2007 to 2009. Sections have not received compelling analyses that account for these declines nor projections for future years.. We are aware that journal subscriptions are down in most fields, due both to constrictions in university budgets and the serials pricing crisis.
• AAA journals are now available through various WB “bundles” or collections. See (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/aboutus/institutionalCustomers.html).
The revenue and subscription implications of this are unclear. When queried (after receipt of May 2010 annual reports), WB explained that institutions already holding subscriptions (to individual journals) would not be allowed to cancel these subscriptions until they expire naturally – maximally (in most cases), after three years. WB was not able to provide information on the number of (CA) subscriptions that would be phased out through this process over the coming three years. Nor has WB provided information on the number of current individual subscriptions (of CA) that are not (yet) tied into the bundle.
It seems to us that there may be a quite dramatic dip in income once we are past the (maximum 3 year) protection against subscription cancellation from libraries that have bought into a WB bundle deal. [As it appears on the "statement of income" in WB's 2009 annual reports, the "subscription revenue" could crash, and the "collection revenue" would go up, but not significantly since individual journals don’t earn much when they circulate through the WB bundle.]
There's also a long term issue: if AAA publications primarily circulate through the WB bundle, what happens when/if the arrangement with WB ends? Would AAA or each journal have to entirely rebuild subscriptions and circulation?
WB’s bundle is a way to extend access to AAA publications, but the implications deserve further evaluation.
It should also be noted that sections and editors were not, to my knowledge, involved in the decision to make AAA journals available through WB bundles. Editors learned of this development after the decision was made.
• The value of and vision for AnthroSource remains unclear, especially given the way institutions can access AAA publications through WB’s bundles. We recognize that AnthroSource provides full member access to back content. Is this its primary purpose at this stage?
[WB has explained that institutions can get access to back content from JSTOR if they pay for it, and that JSTOR revenues feed into the profit-share account in the permissions and rights line. Only the six AAA quarterlies have back content in JSTOR, however. For the non-quarterlies, AnthroSource is the only way that institutions can get content online prior to 1997. Anthrosource also provides access to ceased titles.]
Colleagues have asked if AnthroSource can become an open access repository for the discipline -- with the metadata, interoperability and stability needed to make it a sustained and reliable resource. As Jason Jackson has noted, however, “[a]t a structural level, it would be counter to the current business model for the AAA to establish a repository into which AAA publications would be placed (even in the technically allowable pre-print and post-print form) for wide OA access.”
Colleagues also asked me to report their concern that migration of AnthroSource to WB’s proprietary platform inappropriately undermines the autonomy of AAA, and its ability to negotiate other options
for publishing in the future.
Lastly, colleagues complain (quite vehemently!) about the functionality of AnthroSource. One colleague said the following:
When AnthroSource was first unveiled I did not know what to make of it. Then I fell in love with it. If AnthroSource meant that all members of AAA had electronic access to all AAA publications, then we could ditch paper copies. This means that we would not need institutional subscriptions to subsidize the costs for paper copies of PoLAR and CA and AA, which I end up throwing out sooner or later because of storage problems. And that would mean that institutional
subscriptions and perhaps even membership fees could have been lowered.
But none of that happened. Now, when I try to use AnthroSource, I discover that I am better off going through my university library which takes me right to the Wiley-Blackwell site.
And I now frankly find the Anthrosource search function useless. Do you use it? I have gone to AnthroSource and put in the search field a word that I KNOW appears in a wide range of articles - yet the search returns with no matches. AnthroSource seems now only to waste my time unnecessarily. I do not know what is the cause of it going from a great resource with yet untapped potential to a useless piece of junk…
My sense is whatever AAA spent on Anthrosource is virtually a waste of money, but it did not have to be this way, they did something somewhere along the line that screwed it up….
Did someone once really think AnthroSource could be a way to make our work available to journalists and others? That is something I would have been glad to see my membership fees go for.
• As an editor, the terms and obligations of the AAA-WB contract remained opaque, such that many requests we made (for assistance in extending indexing coverage for CA, for example) were treated as special pleading, beyond the scope of what could be fairly expected.
• It isn’t clear how AAA and Section revenues will be affected after expiration of the terms of the current contract with WB, which provides a guaranteed minimum to AAA through 2012.
Broader issues in AAA’s publishing efforts
• First and foremost: AAA’s publishing decisions should be guided by a robust understanding of relevant questions and alternative publishing models. AAA communications and discussion at editor’s meeting are only beginning to address the range of issues and options that should be considered. Dialogue has often been defensive (of present arrangements) rather than open and exploratory. To enrich this dialogue, sections and journal editors need better comparative data, examples, and scenarios. Sections also need to be reassured that there is indeed an open question on the table. Colleagues have asked if we aren't already locked into the WB infrastructure. This blog exchange (led by Chris Kelty), for example, articulates frustration with the delimited, over-determined set of questions AAA asked in the 2010 Members Survey:
Other references relevant to these deliberations include the following:
- University of California website (continually updated), “Reshaping Scholarly Communication.”
- Rosenthal, David (2010, June 23) “Stepping Twice Into The Same River,” Keynote at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Queensland, Australia (numerous examples of how different scholarly fields have dealt with emerging publishing challenges and opportunities)
- Nowviskie, Bethany (Associate Director, Scholarly Communication Institute; Director of Digital Research and Scholarship at the University of Virginia Library). (2010, June 9) “Fight Club Soap” [on the implications of the current UC/Nature controversy for the humanities)
- Jones, Dave (2010, June 11) “UC Fights $1 Million Increase in License Fee for Nature and Affiliated Journals,” UC Davis News and Information.
- Howard, Jennifer (2010, June 8) “U of California Tries Just Saying No to Rising Journal Costs,” Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Jackson, Jason Baird (2010, May 28) “Our Circulatory System (or Folklore Studies Publishing in the Era of Open Access, Corporate Enclosure and the Transformation of Scholarly Societies).”
- Harley, Diane, Acord, Sophia Krzys, Earl-Novell, Sarah, Lawrence, Shannon, & King, C. Judson. (2010). “Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines.” UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.
- Crow, Raym (2009. October) “Income Models for Open Access: An Overview of Current Practice.” SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coaltion).
- Cefkin, Melissa (2008, February) “Organizing for Access,” Anthropology News.
- Kelty, Christopher M, Fischer, Michael M. J., Golub, Alex, Jackson, Jason Baird, Christen, Kimberly, Brown, Michael F., Boellstorff, Tom (2008) “Anthropology In/Of Circulation: The Future of Open Access and Scholarly Societies,” Cultural Anthropology.
- Borgman, Christine (Presidential Chair and Professor, Information Studies, UCLA) (2007) Scholarship in the Digital Age, MIT Press. Calpfstri, Suzanne and Bonnie Nardi (2004, March) “Creating a Shared Vision forAnthroSource,” Anthropology News.
- Association of Research Libraries, Office of Scholarly Communication (2004, May) “Framing the Issue: Open Access.”
- Well known and supported declarations of the value of open access to scholarly communication: Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003)
- Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003)
- Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002)
• AAA’s publishing should be based on a sustainable business model, protective of both scholarly values and economic interests. AAA members and sections should be apprised of the different kinds of arrangements scholarly societies have made with commercial partners, of arrangements journals have with universities presses, and of options for publishing with libraries. Returning publishing production and circulation responsibilities to AAA should also be considered. Given the development of open source editorial management and publication tools in recent years, this may well be a viable option again, though it would depend on considerable capacity building at AAA.
The business model for AAA overall also needs to be re-evaluated. The current model depends on publishing revenue, and thus on toll-access publishing. As Melissa Cefkin, Jason Jackson and Chris Kelty, among others, have cogently argued (see articles listed above), new options would emerge if members were not imagined and enrolled only as recipients of AAA journals. There are other ways to think about membership and financial support for scholarly societies. Kelty suggest a survey of members that would ask these kinds of questions:
[W]ould you even bother to pay dues if you didn’t get a copy of American Anthropologist? (yes!); would you pay dues if you knew they were being used for purposes you could monitor and respond to? (yes!); would you pay dues if AAA promised to make all AAA publications open access? (doubleplusyesyesyes!); would you pay dues if all you got for it was reduced registration fees at a yearly conference? (even so, yes!); would you pay dues for career counseling, job
listings, and news from the field (yes!)… and so on until it can be made clear what exactly membership in the society means, beyond a print copy of American Anthropologist (Kelty May 11, 2010).
Other colleagues have also raised questions and concerns about the orientation of AAA overall, recognizing that questions about publishing raise important structural questions about scholarly societies. One colleague put is this way:
It is critical that there be an open discussion of possibilities, and not simply an up-or-down (and uninformed) comment on the particulars of any given contract… [T]here’s a lot of sentiment behind keeping the cash flow coming that WB has enabled - but much less discussion of what the costs of that cash flow have been for libraries, publication, and scholarship more generally. I think this goes to the wider issue you've engaged as well- what is a scholarly association for? What do we expect to get for our dues? What should these societies provide to their members - or to the public? What do they need to have funds for?
Some colleagues also voiced concern about how AAA will attract members in future years, as work and publication practices shift, and the costs of commercial publication become more visible. One colleague’s response was particularly pointed in this regard:
Through my own engagement with and observation of these issues over the last several years I have come to these conclusions:
- In a few decades scholarly publishing will be digital and free with open access; there also will be new models of how to meet colleagues on a regular basis.
- The entire apparatus of scholarly societies will be reconceived. They should lead this process.
- Scholarly publishing for profit is increasingly untenable;
- Scholarly societies should be leaders in this transformation in scholarly communication. I hoped that AAA would be part of that process.
- The current financial crisis in academia has exposed many specious financial arrangements. It is extremely disappointing to learn that academic societies have been profiting from scholarly communication, rather than merely trying to support it in the best way possible. Do you know about the emerging UC boycott of Nature? … I have read various responses to this boycott; what is distressing is the barely concealed fear of those who are opposed to the boycott, fear of opposing _Nature_. For years I have heard from scientists about the increasing price gouging by the Nature Publishing Group. Several years ago I also heard that UC had been paying Elsevier several millions a year for subscriptions at the 10 UC campuses; after much heated negotiations the rates were reduced by one million!
Even though I sought help for them, last quarter 2 students in my classes left school in mid-term because they could not pay their monthly pro-rated registration bills. [This year the UC student fees have increased 34%.] In that context spending billions on journal subscriptions is unwarranted when we all know the solution is already at hand.
As we all know, scholars provide, evaluate, and edit the content of journals for free. In the context of digital technologies and the existing infrastructure for no-cost publishing, there is no need for private publishing.
As I wrote above, the entire apparatus of scholarly societies will be reconceived. They should lead this process, not resist it… Over the years I have cancelled my memberships in all but two academic societies. I have expected better from AAA, and [would be] very, very disappointed to find that my trust and faith were naive and unwarranted.
• The organization and charge of AAA’s publishing department also deserves re-evaluation.
The American Psychological Association continues to self-publish, for example, albeit with a less diverse publication portfolio. Other examples could also provide useful comparisons. Investment in AAA’s own publications department could generate publishing possibilities not yet being considered.
Colleagues have raised these specific questions: Could AAA’s publishing office play a stronger role in promoting, shaping and providing access to AnthroSource? (The colleague who asked this noted that his library did not have access to AnthroSource despite full effort by his social science librarian.) Could AAA’s publishing department lead an effort to develop credible alternatives to impact factors as a way to judge journal quality? Could AAA’s publishing department become more involved innefforts to extend readership of AAA publications beyond the U.S.?
• AAA should have a strategy for protecting its capacity to recruit creative editorial leadership.
Defensive relationships between editors and AAA (and AAA’s publishing partner) will undermine this. Commercialization at the expense of open access will also undercut AAA’s capacity to enroll editors. The report by Harley, et al, referenced above, quotes (p. 250) a biologist articulating concerns I have often heard expressed by AAA editors (and sometimes from peer-reviewers):
I was invited to edit for a journal owned by Elsevier. I write back and ask them, “What are your plans for making the content available?” And they have no plans of doing so but they would pay me $600 for editing this issue, and if I want to convince the authors to pay an open access fee, then they would consider that on a case-by-case basis. And I just wrote back, “I can’t help but feel insulted by your offer, the 16 reviews, $600. It takes me two hours to even just read each paper. That’s not even twice the minimum wage for unskilled labor.” And then they’re asking me
to go out fund-raising for them, to ask the authors who do this to also pay for it. It’s ridiculous…I generally don’t review for Elsevier journals. I have a letter now saying I charge $200 an hour and I don’t work for their shareholders for free. It’s basically what it boils down to, and at that moment they find some other sucker…I’m a strong proponent of open access…in the big picture, the current publishing model is only possible because we let ourselves be abused…Why do you spend three hours reviewing that paper for Elsevier to then sell it? They give very little back to
the community. So that model isn’t sustainable either if you analyze it by economic analysis, because it relies on volunteer contributions.
• AAA must also sustain the support of universities. Commercial publishing arrangements may make it more difficult to convince universities to subsidize editorial offices, for example. Many anthropology journals have had trouble recruiting new editors in recent years, often because their institutions have been unable to come up with suitable subsidy packages. As one colleague detailed,
University resistance (usually at the Dean level) to supporting editorial offices grows with increased awareness of (1) the serials crisis in campus libraries, (2) difficult budget climates generally, (3) awareness of dramatic profit increases in the commercial publishing sector and (4) high-profile battles with the commercial publishing sector such as the current contest between the UC System and the Nature Publishing Group (with its viable threat of UC faculty withdrawal from NPG editing, reviewing, and authoring). A decreasing sense of possible reputation and catalyst benefit to the institution (relative to higher costs) is a factor here too. (In a time of impact factor analysis and the proliferation of journals, it takes a very prominent title to coax a dean in to spending what will come to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.)
… This system means that people who would be good for the job are probably structurally excluded on the basis of an unwillingness/inability of a Dean or Chair to put together a suitable subsidy package.
… [It also means that] universities and those scholarly societies partnering with the commercial publishers are structural opponents, and this not a good place to be, in my view.
It must be emphasized, another colleague said, that “the problem is not only with Deans and their budgets. The problem is with the overall business model for scholarly societies and scholarly publishing. Sky-rocketing costs for scholarly journals are linked to sky rocketing tuition costs.”
• AAA must also, of course, have a strategy to protect its capacity to enroll, support and protect authors.
The author agreement currently used by AAA publication allows authors the right to post copies of a final, accepted manuscript – prior to further editorial, copyedit or lay out work – on their own websites, or in institutional or disciplinary repositories. Many colleagues that I have spoken with insist that anthropologists need much stronger and more straightforward rights to circulate their scholarly work. Some noted that they think of open access to their work as implied by their disciplinary code of ethics; others linked open access of academic freedom.
Some colleagues also noted that the collectivity required to support the development and critical evaluation of scholarly work calls for a standard final version, which can be referenced. “Green” OA (which encourages circulation of at least two versions of an article) distracts from this. Other colleagues emphasized the way open access supports the advance of scholarship by allowing for continual iteration, markup, enrichment and remixing. One colleague put his thoughts this way:
I'm slowly developing a love/hate relationship with open source publishing. On the one hand, I recognize the change it is trying to foster and promote and I greatly support the effort. On the other hand, however, open source publishing seems to be caught within the web of traditional publishing. Too often (though not always), open source publishing is equated with free distribution. Within this model, publications are circulated easily and openly but nevertheless often remain 'closed', ie, a PDF document is passed around without ever being transformed. Here
again, I recognize (and even support) the necessary first step of opening up distribution, but at the same time I feel as if this narrow focus too often displaces other possible concerns related to openness, such as publication format, authorship assignation, and so on.
Many of the best scholars in anthropology, particularly younger ones, are increasingly concerned about open access issues, and making decisions about where to submit and publish their work on such a basis. AAA needs to work with a possible scenario for ten years out in which the best scholars in the field opt to publish only in open access venues. One colleague articulated his hopes for the future this way:
As a young scholar, I am especially concerned about the current publishing ecology. When asked to contribute a book chapter to a handbook on community informatics, a researcher that I admire recently declined with this statement: "I have as a matter of principle decided not to write for or publish in non-open access publications. My concern is that publications such as the one that you are preparing are in fact largely inaccessible due to excessive cost for purchase precisely to those individual students and researchers and libraries in developing countries who would benefit most
from the publication." As an emerging scholar, I would like to take the same stance. But the most established journals in anthropology limit access, for a profit, and publishing in these journals carries the most weight when applying for jobs in a highly competitive market. I strongly support the shift to open-access by prestigious journals such as Cultural Anthropology because it would provide more options that simultaneously align with my principles (especially as a scholar studying issues of information access and usability) and provide the lines on my CV that I will
need for a successful career as a teacher and scholar."
• AAA should protect its capacity to enroll and support reviewers. This is critical and, in my view, especially under-appreciated. Anthropology is currently supported by an exceptionally robust culture and practice of reviewing; reviews received for a journal like Cultural Anthropology typically display a depth of engagement that I have rarely seen in other social science and humanities disciplines (though I engage with other disciplines fairly frequently since I work in an interdisciplinary field/department). AAA should imagine and (take care to avoid) a future scenario in
which reviewers are no longer willing to volunteer their labor because it seems at odds with the forprofit model within which they are asked to provide a review. Already, colleagues have said that they make a special effort to be available to review for open access publications like Cultural Analysis.
Again, the current contest between University of California and the Nature Publishing Group is noteworthy, as it explicitly invokes the threat of threat of UC faculty withdrawal from NPG editing, authoring and reviewing.
• AAA should protect and extend its capacity to enroll librarians. Librarians want to extend access to the best scholarship, in well-presented, timely publications. Production of such presentations is costly. But there are models for covering these costs that don’t charge readers and libraries, making access depend on financial means.
Especially in an era of budget constriction at universities, librarians may be unable to sustain costly subscriptions to AAA journals. Dramatic declines in subscriptions to AAA journals no doubt reflect this, at least in part. It should be acknowledged that high subscription prices force librarians to make hard choices about which disciplines to support, and at what depth. One colleague noted this, emphasizing that anthropology was unlikely to be a winner in this kind of game.
Increasingly, librarians may also be hesitant to participate in for-profit arrangements at odds with what they conceive as the mission of research libraries. See, for example the report titled “Framing the Issue: Open Access” released by the Association of Research Libraries almost a decade ago. AAA needs to imagine future scenarios in which a host of robust Open Access journals compete with AAA publications, giving both librarians and readers new options.
AAA also needs to recognize that high journal subscription prices have led to reductions in library book purchases. The 2004 report by the Association of Research Libraries (also referred to above) notes that 1986-2001 library expenditures on serials increased by 3 times, while book purchases declined by 9%. “Based on 1986 purchasing levels,” the report says, “the typical research library has forgone purchasing 90,000 monographs over the past 15 years.” Colleagues have of course noted that this is particularly significant for anthropology given the significance of ethnographic monographs as a way to disseminate anthropological research results and develop scholarly careers.
One librarian blogged on the situation this way:
Now, I too have heard "But our journals aren't expensive! Why should we worry about the serials crisis, or adopt open-access practices?" from humanities scholars. Many times have I heard this. It makes me crazy. Why do you think monograph sales are down?
Why do you think subscriptions to humanities journals are down? Why do you think university presses are dropping like flies? I assure you, we librarians have not been embezzling money. Wake up, humanities scholars! The serials crisis cut off the air supply to your publications, books and journals alike! If it's not fixed, you will continue to suffer. You have entirely selfish reasons for wanting NPG and its ilk to be brought to heel.
A number of colleagues emphasized that they would like AAA to partner in productive ways with both university and public librarians, across and outside the United States.
• AAA should protect and extend its capacity to reach readers.
Many potential readers of AAA publications don’t have formal institutional affiliations and thus would be prime users of open access publications and repositories. As anthropologists continue efforts to extend readership of their work beyond the United States and beyond the academy, they will need a supportive AAA publishing program. Frustrated in this effort, one colleague provided an example: A Brazilian colleague wanted to include one of his AAA publications in a Portugueselanguage edited volume. AAA charged $700 for the copyright (half of which was to go to the
author). Committed to his work being read in Brazil, the author paid the full copyright fee himself – painfully aware of the irony of paying to share his own work.
Another colleague also stressed the importance of supporting international readership, noting that open access wouldn’t itself resolve all associated problems:
I have recently taken a look at some of the philanthropic programs that have been initiated by AAA, and these don't seem to resolve such questions and concerns for readers in countries like Tunisia (not considered a 3rd World country) nor for countries like Qatar (considered developed). Here, the classificatory system around stages of development penalizes some countries who have managed to satisfy World Bank scenarios for growth, etc. but yet do not have a university system that can keep pace with universities in First World countries; while simultaneously preventing some countries with extreme financial wealth (i.e. Qatar) but who have only in the last decade begun to establish something that looks like an anthropological department and therefore faced with countless decisions about how to go about doing so, including which journals to subscribe to and whether or not the 'colonial' field of anthropology even warrants support by libraries and librarians in the first place. To my knowledge, these countries in the short term cannot benefit from the AAA philanthropic programs, and the wait for open access (itself likely not a panache for emerging differentials) may only reinforce the disadvantages that anthropologists and those
interested in the discipline face in these countries.
AAA, in the above scenario, not only needs to provide wide access to its publications, but also should proactively seek to enroll new readers and institutions, in diverse contexts.
Many (not all) colleagues that I spoke with said that online-only publication of anthropology journals should be seriously considered, particularly if this was the only way to protect scholarly autonomy and wide access. Museum Anthropology Review is a well-regarded example of a born open, digital only publication. Oral Tradition and Asian Ethnology (formerly Asian Folklore Studies) are examples of well-established journals, with deep back content, which have made the transition to fully open, digital only presentation.
• AAA should protect and extend its capacity to reach members. As noted earlier, it should not be assumed that most anthropologists will continue to invest in AAA. Most colleagues that I heard from articulated both concerns about and high hopes for AAA. Clearly, members need to be conceived as a stakeholder group – that is reflective, ethically committed, and aware that the conditions of scholarly publishing are changing dramatically, requiring creative response. One colleague, responding to an earlier draft of this memo, said this:
The memo points out the need to find out what services members of AAA think they are paying for or are willing to pay for. Personally, I would be thrilled if most of my AAA fees went to pay for an organization that would defend and promote our professional interests, which includes the widest dissemination of our work, and not for profit. AAA and other scholarly organizations need to be working with librarians (not just university but public) to find strategies to deal with this changing situation. And if some of that money went for lobbying if we needed legislation to protect our interests, fine. Academic freedom in my view requires that our work be disseminated freely, or close to it.
As a member, it is distressing to see that you were not given the data necessary to analyze this. As a member, I also think that the solution should be sought through more dialogue between AAA and librarians, before turning to commercial relationships with for-profit publishers.
As a member of the AAA I am willing to pay money necessary to support the operation of the journals to which I otherwise contribute my labor without compensation. If there are costs to circulating the journal, I can accept members or subscribers covering the costs. My preference would be or an arrangement that made it possible for the greatest number of people to access my work, which means one thing I expect my AAA membership fees to go to is to pay people to figure out how to produce and circulate our journals at as low a cost as possible.
A younger scholar articulated his hopes for AAA this way:
Ethically, however, I do believe that current grad students and newly minted PhDs would largely prefer to publish in open-access outlets or outlets otherwise managed by scholars rather than corporations. I think it is critical for AAA to assume a organizational/leadership role in this transformation. There is, as you note, enormous professional pressure to publish in established venues. Thus, the institutional recognition of and support for "alternative" or open-access
publications by our scholarly organization and the professional network it represents is critical.
Feedback from the SCA community (and environs) indicates real concern with the current orientation of AAA’s publishing program, cautioning against renewal of the WB contract. That a shift away from WB would be difficult is fully acknowledged.
Going forward, it is important to recognize the matrix of issues involved, and opportunities for AAA to provide creative leadership. One colleague recalled AAA’s earlier leadership role as follows:
Sadly, the AAA once was seen as the model. At the start of the UCP agreement and at the time of AnthroSource planning, we were looked at as very innovative. As I understand it, the plan had been to recruit a major university library to partner with us so that we could build a seamless AnthroSource that intraoperatively combined a campus-based disciplinary repository for freely distributed gray literature (and data, legacy content, etc.) with the toll access journal delivery machine. We hired a big commercial STM executive to lead our efforts at the moment that the
search for the library partner was to begin (ca. 2006) and things went downhill from there.
Another colleague also recounted an early vision for AnthroSource --as a “portal/face to the extraacademic world about anthropology, such as journalists.” “Even if the face of that has changed (for better or worse),” s/he elaborated, “revisiting the ramifications of how the current model and directions support the goals of reaching those outside of academia, the public, specialists in other fields, and other institutional contexts would be worthy.”
Suzzane Capestri and Bonnie Nardi wrote about many of the issues that still concern us in their 2004 AnthroNews article (listed above), titled “Created a Shared Vision for AnthroSource.”
No one I spoke to had nailed down a solution for the present predicament. Indeed, there was wide acknowledgement that much work (particularly comparative analysis) and deliberation needs to go on before any decisions are made.
Many colleagues also emphasized that questions about publishing should be dealt with within a broader re-evaluation of AAA. As one colleague put it, “we need to avoid the trap of being asked about a new model FOR PUBLISHING. Systems thinking can be our friend when we talk about organizations, and the risk is to view this segment in isolation. What we need to be exploring are new models for the organization [AAA] at large.”
One angle with solid precedents would be built around an AAA partnership with a university library. Cornell, for example, has developed a partnership with physics (and allied fields), spending its historical collections budget to support arXiv. They are moving now to the next step, which is to build a community-support mechanism for the medium term. See http://news.library.cornell.edu/news/arxiv
EthicShare (https://www.ethicshare.org/) is a different kind of example of a library-centered project.
Another option, albeit one that does not extend open access, would build on JSTOR’s new current content program. One colleague noted (without advocating) this JSTOR possibility, as a way to emphasize that “the bottom line is that there are now (separate from OA questions) simpler, more elegant, more community-oriented ways to be going about this.” See JSTOR’s initial Current Content Announcement http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/programs/currentScholarship.jsp, and http://www.afsnet.org/membership/membership.cfm on how partnership with JSTOR can provide considerable benefits to members of scholarly societies.
In sum, there are many options, opportunities and costs to be considered. Decisions about the future of AAA’s publishing programs will have far reaching impact on how individual scholars work, and relate to their readers, colleagues, universities and scholarly societies. Such decisions will also shape how the work of anthropology circulates and is received and supported. The future of scholarly communication writ large is also at stake. Colleagues that I have interacted with want, and are willing to invest in, progressive leadership on these issues.