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Help us name-storm

The AAA received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to build a book review prototype. But “Book Review Prototype,” as a name, lacks the je ne sais quoi  we need to describe a new digital platform that publishes open access book reviews and wraps up new Web 2.0 functionality (like commenting tools, cover .gifs, and links to purchase books).

AAA and the prototype’s new editor, Justin Shaffner, want to hear which name do you like?

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.

Analysis of the Publishing Program and its Future

The Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) in conjunction with the AAA publishing staff just completed a year-long effort to canvass the program and its future. These inquiries were motivated by the recognition that the publishing program as it is currently configured is vulnerable to the changing environment for scholarly publishing. The results include 1) an analysis of AAA’s publishing program by an outside consultant, Raym Crow and 2) the summary of findings from the May 2012 publishing survey. Both documents and a cover memo are being released to AAA membership, in order to help the Association assess its current publishing model and suggest potential alternatives.

This research represents another effort in an ongoing conversation about the future of the publishing program, which has included two sessions at the AAA 2011 Montreal Annual Meeting (see: http://vimeo.com/album/1821564 and http://vimeo.com/album/1814558 to view presentations for which we received permission to record), and an October 2011 Anthropology News article that appeared in the “Association Business” section of the paper.

To access the cover memo, Crow’s report, and the survey findings, current AAA members may login and click on “My Information” (left-hand side). The findings appear under header “AAA Member Documents.” You may need to scroll down to view this area.

CFPEP and its parent committee, the Anthropological Communication Committee, and AAA publishing staff welcome suggestions, ideas, and proposals from any member and they may be submitted to Chelsea Horton of the AAA Publications Office (chorton@aaanet.org) by January 18, 2013.

Resource Development Committee Launches the Anthropology Document Portal

Today’s guest blog post is by AAA member, Robert Hahn. Hahn is a committee member of the Resource Development Committee and chair of the Gray Literature subcommittee.

Thanks to generous donations of AAA members to the Resource Development Committee, the AAA has launch an Anthropology Document Portal that will allow anthropologists to archive published and unpublished writings on the electronic storage facilities of the Social Science Research Network, a well-established digital warehouse.  Further notice of how this archive will work has been published in this month’s Anthropology News.  The anthropology section of SSRN, Anthropology and Archaeology Research Network will allow anthropologists to access difficult-to-find publications of colleagues and will provide non anthropologists new access to indexed, searchable anthropological writings.

The SSRN anthropology portal is the first of two projects of the RDC “Gray Literature” subcommittee that has focused on expanding access to hard-to-know-about-and-find anthropological and related literature.  The second project, currently in development, is a set of anthropology-related web links on the AAA resource page that will facilitate member use of the “gray literature” not published or indexed in usual book and journal sources, but available on government and NGO websites, e.g., the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the World Bank.  These projects should build awareness and access to anthropological research and knowledge within and beyond the discipline.

The RDC is chaired by Louise Lamphere, the Gray Literature subcommittee by Robert Hahn; other subcommittee members are TJ Ferguson, Shirley Fiske, and Oona Schmid (AAA Liaison).

AAA Publishing Program – FAQs

Have you found yourself wondering what steps AAA has taken to facilitate access to its publications, if there’s a plan for the future of the AAA publishing program and how U.S. federal legislation may impact the program? Check out the new Publications Frequently Asked Questions  page on the AAA website.

What steps has the AAA taken to facilitate access to its publications?
While still in the process of examining optimal scenarios for ensuring the broadest possible access to publications and the sustainability of a diverse range of publications, the AAA has already taken the following steps:

  • Sliding scale membership:  Access to AAA’s digital, online literature is available to individuals on a fair and reasonable sliding scale annual fee structure that ranges from $30 to $306 (http://www.aaanet.org/membership/membershipcategories.cfm).
  • Free Access: Access to AAA’s digital, online literature is available free of charge to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, and qualifying institutions from less developed countries (http://www.aaanet.org/issues/AAA-Gives-Back.cfm).  In addition, AAA participates in four philanthropic programs to provide free access to our content in under-resourced countries. These programs are administered by agencies with presence on the ground in these areas, such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Council for Science.
  • “Ungating” back issues of journals: Access to back issues of AAA’s journal American Anthropologist (AA) is available free of charge 35 years and longer after publication. That means that in 2012, all back issues of AA are available free of charge from 1888 to 1977; in 2013, the year 1978 will be “ungated.” Sections are encouraged to follow the same plan. To date, three sections have agreed. CFPEP is charged with assessing the success and costs of this arrangement.
  • Anthropology News online is open access for two months before content is gated and archived within AnthroSource.
  • Grey Literature Hub. With funds raised by the AAA Research Development Committee (RDC), AAA endorsed and is working towards the establishment of an “Anthropology” category on the online open access Social Science Research Network (SSRN) for the purpose of disseminating grey literature, anthropological content that is otherwise not available.
  • Author Rights and Permissions: In the author agreement for AAA journals, the author reserves the right (among other rights) to post his/her article on the author’s personal or institutional website, and to post the article on free, discipline-specific public servers. Because of these clauses, AAA’s author agreement is rated green by SHERPA/RoMEO, a project designed to help facilitate green open access.

What is the AAA plan for the future of the publishing program? How does open-access (OA) fit into it?
CFPEP is evaluating alternative publishing models that support broad dissemination of knowledge (including but not limited to open access) while taking into consideration discipline- and subdiscipline-specific concerns, the needs of a diverse anthropological constituency as well as AAA’s  commitment to supporting smaller publications, to ensuring a sustainable publishing program and to the financial viability of the association and its sections. CFPEP’s process includes discussions with sections, members, staff and relevant consultants to develop five– and ten–year plans for the future of AAA’s electronic and print publications. It will make recommendations to the ACC through 2012 and 2013.

For background information, see CFPEP annual reports (http://www.aaanet.org/about/Annual_Reports/committee_reports.cfm; see also http://www.aaanet.org/membership/CFPEP-sectionliaisonreport-Apr2008_appendix.pdf; http://www.aaanet.org/membership/ForFurtherConsiderationCFPEPReport122008.pdf; and Waterston in Anthropology News October 2009: 21).

What is the AAA position on U.S. federal legislation that may have an impact on the publishing program?
The AAA is particularly concerned by any proposed legislation that aims to limit dissemination of research, and that may disproportionately protect private over public interests. At the same time, its role is to be vigilant about the specific needs and interests of our publications program, anthropology as a whole, and individual anthropologist-authors.  Acknowledging the Association’s commitment to “a publications program that disseminates the most current anthropological research, expertise, and interpretation to its members, the discipline, and the broader society,” but also the need for a sustainable publication strategy, and building on the Association’s support for a variety of publishing models, the AAA opposes any Congressional legislation which, if it were enacted, would impose a blanket prohibition against open access publishing policies by all federal agencies.

To whom should I address questions regarding the AAA publications program?
You can contact AAA Director of Publishing Oona Schmid, who will direct you to the right person if she cannot answer your question herself.

What to learn more about the AAA Publishing Program? Click here.

Developments in Access to Research

Oona Schmid, Director of Publishing at the American Anthropological Association is engaging in dialogue with Columbia University students this afternoon at the Scholarly Communications Program Panel to Consider Recent Developments in Access to Research. “Protests, Petitions and Publishing: Widening Access to Research in 2012″ to discuss how Occupy Wall Street, the Research Works Act (RWA), the boycott of Elsevier journals by a growing number of academics, and other recent developments are informing the debate over access to research and scholarship.

During the discussion, Schmid discusses encompassing the widest possible readership for AAA publications. She identifies that while the publications department has a large number of volunteers, such as editors and reviewers, there still remains overhead and personnel costs of running the Association.  She also identifies the academic reward of a formal publishing process, which is still regarded as valuable towards tenure and professional development. This process includes peer-review of the journal piece as well as the necessity for long-term preservation, which aids in access when the article is cited.

AAA is responsible for half million digital objects with articles dating back to 1888 available via AnthroSource. AnthroSource is a service that offers AAA members and subscribing libraries full-text anthropological resources, including: a digital searchable database containing the past, present and future AAA publications; more than 500,000 full-text articles from AAA journals, newsletters, bulletins and monographs in a single place; and 24/7 access to scientific research information across the field of anthropology.  Resources older than 35 years are available for free public use.

During this panel, Schmid reviews AAA’s 2010 cost structure. From this pie chart (slide 7), you can see how AAA met the costs of its expansive publication program in 2010. If AAA were to provide open access to all of its publications, she pursues the options for replacing the  63% that currently comes from library subscriptions . The first option is that AAA members might pick the cost; however, membership dues would increase enormously (see slide 9). In the second option, the author might pay for their work to be published. This option might lead to students, international anthropologists, and underemployed authors being discriminated against, as they might not afford publication.  Commentaries and book reviews, which are a significant role in anthropological publications, might not be funded under this option. The third option might be to reduce costs. While a common perception is that the Association could stop printing copies, ending print only reduces the 2010 costs by 24%, not the 63% that is paid for currently by subscriptions.

As AAA strives to find a way to provide access to the widest possible readership, the Association currently offers the following access to research:

  • Sliding scale membership:  Access to AAA’s digital, online literature is available to individuals on a fair and reasonable sliding scale annual fee structure that ranges from $30 to $306 (http://www.aaanet.org/membership/membershipcategories.cfm).
  • Free Access: Access to AAA’s digital, online literature is available free of charge to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, and qualifying institutions from less developed countries (http://www.aaanet.org/issues/AAA-Gives-Back.cfm).  In addition, AAA participates in four philanthropic programs to provide free access to our content in under-resourced countries. These programs are administered by agencies with presence on the ground in these areas, such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Council for Science.
  • “Ungating” back issues of journals: Access to back issues of AAA’s journal American Anthropologist (AA) is available free of charge 35 years and longer after publication. That means that in 2012, all back issues of AA are available free of charge from 1888 to 1977; in 2013, the year 1978 will be “ungated.” Sections are encouraged to follow the same plan. To date, three sections have agreed. CFPEP is charged with assessing the success and costs of this arrangement.
  • Anthropology News online (www.anthropology-news.org) is open access for two months before content is gated and archived within AnthroSource.
  • Grey Literature Hub. With funds raised by the AAA Research Development Committee (RDC), AAA endorsed and is working towards the establishment of an “Anthropology” category on the online open access Social Science Research Network (SSRN; http://www.ssrn.com/) for the purpose of disseminating grey literature, anthropological content that is otherwise not available.
  • Author Rights and Permissions: In the author agreement for AAA journals, the author reserves the right (among other rights) to post his/her article on the author’s personal or institutional website, and to post the article on free, discipline-specific public servers. Because of these clauses, AAA’s author agreement is rated green by SHERPA/RoMEO, a project designed to help facilitate green open access (http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/).

To view Schmid’s complete presentation, click here.

Want to know more about AAA’s publishing program, check out these FAQs.

AAA Publishing Program – FAQs

Have you found yourself wondering if AAA has a committee on publishing, what the structure of the publishing program is or what in the world is AnthroSource? Check out the new Publications Frequently Asked Questions  page on the AAA website.

What is AnthroSource?
AnthroSource is a service that offers AAA members and subscribing libraries full-text anthropological resources, including: a digital searchable database containing the past, present and future AAA publications; more than 500,000 full-text articles from AAA journals, newsletters, bulletins and monographs in a single place; and 24/7 access to scientific research information across the field of anthropology.  For more information, click here.

What is the structure of the AAA journal and newsletter publishing program?
The journal and newsletter publishing program is complex, involving twenty AAA sections, permanent AAA staff, and the AAA publishing partner, Wiley-Blackwell. Publishing sections are responsible for producing the content and editorial policy and practice of their publications, and work in conjunction with the publishing staff and Wiley-Blackwell to produce and distribute the publications.  However, the AAA Executive Board, in conjunction with the AAA President and Executive Director, is charged with ensuring the overall publishing program goals are met, its fiscal health maintained, and its future viable.

What are the roles and functions of the ACC (Anthropological Communication Committee) and CFPEP (Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing) in relation to the publishing program?
The AAA Executive Board, in conjunction with the AAA President and Executive Director, is charged with ensuring the overall publishing program goals are met, its fiscal health maintained, and its future viable. The AAA achieves these goals largely through the work of two committees, the ACC (Anthropological Communication Committee) and CFPEP (Committee on the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing). Both act in consultation with the elected Executive Board, AAA sections, AAA membership and AAA staff. ACC is a subcommittee of the member-elected Executive Board responsible for reviewing matters concerning publications and intradisciplinary communications through AAA’s major vehicles, including publications and the AAA Annual Meeting.  CFPEP is comprised of nine presidentially appointed members responsible for recommending policies to ACC and the Finance Committee with regard to the dissemination of anthropological knowledge, the future development of AAA’s electronic portal, and AAA current and future print and electronic publishing program and related programs and initiatives.  In 2012 and 2013, CFPEP is actively exploring options which will help inform decision-making regarding changes to print and electronic publishing.

To whom should I address questions regarding the AAA publications program?
You can contact AAA Director of Publishing Oona Schmid, who will direct you to the right person if she cannot answer your question herself.

What to learn more about the AAA Publishing Program? Click here.

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