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American Anthropological Association Pioneers Digital Book Review Process

An innovative new platform for producing scholarly book reviews will be developed with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) announced today. “The new platform will reduce editorial turn-around time and expense, increase readership, and introduce dynamic content,” said Oona Schmid, AAA’s publishing director.

Using the current print-centric process, only a small fraction of books mailed out by presses results in a published book review. And even among these published reviews, they often appear at least one year – and sometimes up to four years – after a book’s publication. By using a completely digital workflow, the AAA will provide book authors with a wider audience and an opportunity for social engagement, as well as reducing costs for scholarly presses and the journals featuring reviews.

“Using digital information technology to improve the book review process is a potential game changer for academic publishing,” says Josh Greenberg, Director of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Scholarly Communication program. “It’s better for authors. It’s better for reviewers. It’s better for publishers. And most of all, it’s better for science, because it encourages and supports the debate, discussion, and evaluation that is the cornerstone of good scholarship. We’re honored to support the American Anthropological Association’s efforts to bring scholarly book reviewing into the digital age.”

The platform will expand the open source Open Journals System from the Public Knowledge Project. Once released, the platform will be available to any discipline or journal using OJS software. Freie Universität Berlin provided PKP with the original iteration of the Objects for Review plugin, and provides active guidance in the prototype development. Publishers will upload book descriptions into the system along with digital versions that will be electronically available to authorized reviewers. Reviewers will then upload their reviews into the database for approval and eventual publication online at the award-winning Anthropology News website.

Five university presses pledged early support of the platform, with more expressing great interest – University of Chicago Press, University of Nebraska Press, University of New Mexico Press, University Press of Colorado, and the University Press of Florida. The presses emphasized the need for improvements in the existing process. Darrin Pratt, Director at the University Press of Colorado, is looking forward to helping pioneer this “radically new workflow for scholarly book reviews.” Pratt notes, “the slow turnaround for book reviews in academic journals…is maddening for university presses.” He can recall titles that were reviewed so long after publication that the books were no longer in print. Pratt’s counterpart, John Byram, Director at University of New Mexico Press, also echoes frustration with the timely process. Byram anticipates “that these efforts will result in a more efficient, cost-effective, and accessible workflow process for a wide variety of international stakeholders.”

“This is an exciting time for publishing,” said Schmid. “The Sloan Foundation is providing the means for participating publishers and the Association to catalyze book reviews into a vibrant part of scholarly discourse.” Work will begin immediately to build the platform’s prototype version. By mid-2015 the prototype and new process with undergo evaluation to determine areas of improvement.

The prototype is expected to launch later this year.

Read more about the initiative in an article by Jennifer Howard at The Chronicle for Higher Education.

Voting on the 2014-2015 Webinar Series

As many of you know, the AAA has begun a monthly webinar series exploring the many facets of anthropology– both in professional development and topical studies.  We’re taking a little break for the summer, but look to start up again sometime in the Fall.  The professional development webinars have been pretty much ironed out, we’ll be dishing out advice on publishing your first journal article, presenting at the annual meeting, utilizing SPSS (and other quantitative software) in grant proposals, and developing a field blog (as well as many other useful topics).

However, we’ll be implementing something new in this phase: two webinars a month. The second webinar will focus on topical subjects, and we need your help to determine areas of interest.  I’ve set up an open ended survey on All Our Ideas.  What does this mean? It means, the AAA staff had a few ideas we thought would work out pretty well, but obviously the possibilities are endless, so if you want to see something happen, write it in, and other people will be able to vote on it just the same.

Since we’re basically setting up an open Mic, I would ask that people remain cordial and serious in this endeavor, no profanity in potential webinar titles.  We’d rather not take any ideas down, but if absolutely necessary we will. These choices should also be more thematic realms, rather than specific ideas– as once the voting is completed, we’ll then have to go search for someone interested in doing a webinar on the subject. It is not the AAA’s responsibility to track down your favorite anthropologist for a Q&A, but we’d be happy to run a webinar about the field of anthropology he or she works in.

You’ll find the survey here: http://www.allourideas.org/2014aaawebinars.

2014 AAA Photo Contest

If you could define your work in a single picture, what would it look like?toy-camera125x100

AAA members work all around the world, in the most diverse cultures imaginable, and we want to showcase them.  If you attended the annual meeting last year in Chicago, you may have noticed a calendar waiting in your complimentary bag with some truly gorgeous pictures—drawing not just from cultural anthropology, but also archaeology, linguistic, biological and political fields.

We’d like to do it again this year, drawing from a new batch of photographs provided by you, our membership.  Photographs can be anything you believe relates to your work; the photographs may not portray any nudity or illicit activity.

Contestants may submit their work in one of three categories: people, places, practice.  Along with your photograph, include a caption for your work, and a brief autobiographical statement of no more than 150 words.  Your biography will not affect your likelihood of being featured in the calendar—we just like to learn a little bit more about our active members. Photographs must be your own, and you must be a current member of the AAA.  Winning photos in the calendar will be printed at 11×8, so be sure the resolution is good enough to print at those dimensions.

For complete contest details and submission information, click here.

2014 AAA Photo Contest

If you could define your work in a single picture, what would it look like?toy-camera125x100

AAA members work all around the world, in the most diverse cultures imaginable, and we want to showcase them.  If you attended the annual meeting last year in Chicago, you may have noticed a calendar waiting in your complimentary bag with some truly gorgeous pictures—drawing not just from cultural anthropology, but also archaeology, linguistic, biological and political fields.

We’d like to do it again this year, drawing from a new batch of photographs provided by you, our membership.  Photographs can be anything you believe relates to your work; the photographs may not portray any nudity or illicit activity.

Contestants may submit their work in one of three categories: people, places, practice.  Along with your photograph, include a caption for your work, and a brief autobiographical statement of no more than 150 words.  Your biography will not affect your likelihood of being featured in the calendar—we just like to learn a little bit more about our active members. Photographs must be your own, and you must be a current member of the AAA.  Winning photos in the calendar will be printed at 11×8, so be sure the resolution is good enough to print at those dimensions.

For complete contest details and submission information, click here.

2014 AAA Photo Contest

If you could define your work in a single picture, what would it look like?

AAA members work all around the world, in the most diverse cultures imaginable, and we want to showcase them.  If you attended the annual meeting last year in Chicago, you may have noticed a calendar waiting in your complimentary bag with some truly gorgeous pictures—drawing not just from cultural anthropology, but also archaeology, linguistic, biological and political fields.

We’d like to do it again this year, drawing from a new batch of photographs provided by you, our membership.  Photographs can be anything you believe relates to your work; the photographs may not portray any nudity or illicit activity.

Contestants may submit their work in one of three categories: people, places, practice.  Along with your photograph, include a caption for your work, and a brief autobiographical statement of no more than 150 words.  Your biography will not affect your likelihood of being featured in the calendar—we just like to learn a little bit more about our active members. Photographs must be your own, and you must be a current member of the AAA.  Winning photos in the calendar will be printed at 11×8, so be sure the resolution is good enough to print at those dimensions.

For complete contest details and submission information, click here.

New Open Anthropology Issue

Open Anthropology 150x150Open Anthropology, a digital-only publication of the American Anthropological Association, is proud to announce the release of its latest issue. In this issue, entitled Sport: Pleasure and Violence, Competition and Sociality, guest editor Niko Besnier (U Amsterdam) offers twelve articles and two book reviews of anthropological works that illustrate how anthropology sheds light on the ways in which sport is deeply intertwined with power, competition, play, money, and violence.

Guest Editor Besnier curates a set of articles that explore the social, cultural and economic aspects of sports across the globe and over time. As he notes, “Anthropologists are particularly well placed to analyze the complexities of what human beings do in social groups to understand the power of sport to variously provoke pleasure, incite violence, arouse competition and promote sociality.”

At a time when the people of the world remember the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi (Russia) and anticipate the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Open Anthropology provides a cross-cultural and historical perspective on the world of sports and its entanglement with state power, among other forces.

Content in Open Anthropology is culled from the full archive of AAA publications, curated into issues, and is made freely available on the internet for a minimum of six months for users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles. Each issue is dedicated to topics that are of interest to the general public and that may have direct or indirect public policy implications.

 

Open Anthropology is available at http://www.aaaopenanthro.org

Are You the Next Editor-in-Chief?

The American Anthropological Association seeks applications for a new Editor-in-Chief of the discipline’s flagship journal, the American Anthropologist, for a four-year term beginning July 1, 2016. Now in its second century of continuous publication, the American Anthropologist publishes articles, reviews, and commentaries from the diverse anthropological community. It is the most widely circulated anthropology journal published by the American Anthropological Association and showcases the breadth of the discipline.

Editorship of the journal provides a unique opportunity for an anthropologist to be a central player in anthropological scholarship shaping the discipline’s identity, impacting the future of anthropology, and initiating and participating in transnational dialogues. The editor is not expected to have expertise in all subfields of anthropology, but to be interested in creatively developing vital conversations within and across fields and national boundaries that will invigorate and contribute positively to the landscape for the transmission of knowledge and collaborative engagement. Applicants are encouraged to develop innovative and creative approaches that will allow them as Editor-in-Chief to put their own stamp on the journal. Editors are encouraged to solicit articles and contributions for special sections, and to develop issues of the journal that highlight critical topics in anthropology and in public debate. As the publishing field continues to develop the editor should also embrace new digital forms for scholarly content and build best practices for collaborative editorial team engagement. Above all, the AAA Executive Board seeks an Editor-in-Chief who will maintain the journal as a leader in intellectual and scholarly advances.

For complete position details and application information, click here.

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