Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Open Access Compact

An article on a new open access agreement, signed by five elite universities. The agreement compels the universities to develop systems to pay open access journals for the articles they publish by the institutions' scholars.

The article presents different viewpoints on whether or not this proposed model is a good one. (A good string of comments at the end of the article too.) We wonder in particular about the implications for museum and applied anthropologists. If scholars are not part of a university system, but employed in small institutions, non-profits, or even private companies, is requiring payment in order to publish truly equitable and sustainable? This agreement is perhaps a visible struggle of the contending goals of opening up a journal's readership while still encouraging broad authorship.

Jason Baird Jackson -- current editor of Museum Anthropology Review, and former editor of our own Museum Anthropology -- is quoted. Jackson voices some legitimate concerns, but offers that in principle, this compact is an "awesome thing." We agree that the agreement seems to open up some very exciting possibilities.

1 comment:

Jason Baird Jackson said...

It is awesome because it is a significant move by some influential institutional actors

(Echoing Chip and Steve) As the discussion progresses, my concern over the implications for scholars in fields like museum anthropology and folklore studies who work outside university contexts grows. As these fields aim to diversify the range of voices included in the scholarly discussion (internationally, from local communities, etc.) the big science model implied here leads us in a troubling direction. It is hard to imagine cancer research being done at a teaching college or in a small community organization, but we already live in a world in which friends and colleagues in local arts agencies, tribal museums, and as independent scholars make major contributions to fields like museum anthropology and folklore studies.

Harvard's implementation of this policy accounts for this in a small way in that journals to which funds go must have provisions for dealing with authors who lack the ability to pay submission/publication/page charges.

Some additional comments can be found at the Open Access Anthropology weblog. There is a vigorous discussion of this development happening all over the web. Thanks to Chip and Steve for calling it to the attention of the museum anthropology community. We do need to think about the implications for museum anthropologists in particular.