OA publishing in anthropology – some more notes.

Unresolved oppositions –

Alex Golub arguing toll-access publishing model is broken:

“If you think that making money by giving away content is a bad idea, you should see what happens when the AAA tries to make money selling it. To put it kindly, our reader-pays model has never worked very well. Getting over our misconceptions about open access requires getting over misconceptions of the success of our existing publishing program. The choice we are facing is not that of an unworkable ideal versus a working system. It is the choice between a future system which may work and an existing system which we know does not.”

(Golub 2007:6)

Stacy Lathrop arguing the system isn’t broken:

“Reading through old AAA Bulletins, Newsletters and Reports, a reader quickly discovers that at times when the AAA has reached bumpy finances, decisions were made by the executive board to assure publications are sustainable.”

(Lathrop 2007:7)

Stacy Lathrop on the extra costs many OA advocates ignore:

“Beyond that, an electronic publishing program should account for costs to market its electronic journals, for training users to use the new means of production, and for responding to users’ questions, problems and needs.”

(Lathrop 2007:7)

This point really caught my attention – what kind of marketing does the AAA do for its journals? In the survey of students I held last year, students were only aware of a few key journals. Online, well… AnthroSource champions all the AAA journals?

I imagine there is a market of librarians to which most journals try to target with whatever marketing budget they have – going for subscription income. Any editors care to share how they allocate their marketing budget, and perhaps share numbers? ie: how much is spent marketing?

My own gut reaction:

I don’t think “anthropology” as a whole is very good at marketing anthropology, aside to itself.  Part of my thesis was motivated from my life in the grad program, constantly explaining to my friends and acquaintances what anthropology is, and isn’t.

But perhaps the AAA publishing program is sustainable – but just barely. And in this rough environment the change to OA is seen as being too risky. But why aren’t they at least promoting self-archiving? Or turning Anthro Source into a real community driven site? (As Alex Golub and others have been pushing for).

Stacy Lathrop. 2007. “Friends, Why Are We Sinking?.” http://0-www.anthrosource.net.mercury.concordia.ca/doi/abs/10.1525/an.2007.48.4.7

Alex Golub. 2007. “With a Business Model Like This, Who Needs Enemies?.” http://0-www.anthrosource.net.mercury.concordia.ca/doi/abs/10.1525/an.2007.48.4.6


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hugh Jarvis on May 13, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Actually, the AAA IS promoting self-archiving. The AnthroSource Steering Cmt (now disbanded) managed to have the author’s agreement adjusted to accomodate that very activity.

    Cheers, Hugh


  2. Dear Hugh,

    Thanks for the update! That’s great to hear about author agreements allowing for self-archiving, I’ll follow up on this and try to learn more.

    I always imagined Anthro Source having its own self-archiving repository… Are there reasons this wouldn’t be possible? I see all sorts of people, instutions, etc, creating self-archiving repositories, but with all the work involved it seems the wheel is being invented a lot.

    This was also a suggestion based on numerous researchers I’ve spoken to, being reluctant to self-archive due to the lack of reputation held by most repositories.

    Thanks again,


  3. It looks like the steering committee had all the right ideas – what happened to it, and why was it disbanded?

    “That AAA join ranks with university administrators, librarians and various public interest groups in supporting FRPAA. Doing so is an important first step toward developing partnerships needed to move AnthroSource forward. An effective means to do so would be the development of an AAA resolution in support of FRPAA for consideration at the November meeting.

    That AAA position itself to become, through AnthroSource, the repository of choice for anthropologists. AAA is uniquely qualified to take on the task of developing a disciplinary repository for anthropology. We note the 2005 authors’ rights agreement and AAA’s partnership with Portico to provide digital preservation services as important steps in this direction. Endorsing FRPAA is another important step as it provides crucial support to all institutions developing repositories of scholarly publications. ”


    That searching for “self-archiving” on the AAA website only returns one article, the steering committee report, doesn’t really say much about the AAA supporting self-archiving however.

    And what about that fantastic recommendation to have Anthro Source as a repository? This exactly what I was arguing for – so I’m really happy to see it has been suggested at least.


  4. Posted by Hugh Jarvis on May 14, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    The CFPEP Cmt on which I serve is actually looking into the possibility of an archive now, but it’s just in a very prelininary exploratory discussion phase right now — so please don’t get your hopes up. Doing that sort of project right takes an enormous amount of planning, support, and of course money!

    (The CFPEP took over the duties of two previous AnthroSource working committees during a general realignment of AAA workflow.)

    FYI, the CFPEP is also exploring ways to index more content, outside of just AAA publications, so an AnthroSource search might find a much broader world of anthropological content as well. Again, we’re just exploring options right now.

    We’re looking generally at all suggestions or needs expressed by AAA members.

    For self-arching, you are right, the author’s agreement is pretty buried. i found it in the manuscript submission site’s additional resources! [PDF]

    Also see your right to reprint an article under “Information for AAA Authors“. (I’m going to ask if it would be possible to make these documents more visible on the AAA site.)


  5. thanks!

    Another big issue:

    The author agreement says authors can retain the right to post on “disciplinary specific” archives… Any reason other archives aren’t okay? Would a “media” archive count as being close enough to an “anthropology” one… In the big push for inter/multi/anti-disciplariness, it seems odd that more general repositories are excluded from the agreement.


  6. Marketing of Open Access journals is generally very poor. Pick a small one at random, and try link:http://www.site…. in Google to see what links to it. I often do this, and chances are that there are perhaps three or less inbound links to the journal.


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