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Posts from the ‘open anthropology’ Category

Speaking of Society-University Partnerships, Check out what the Linguistic Society of America is Doing

Speaking (in my previous post) of scholarly society-university partnerships to advance non-toll access scholarly communications, check out what the Linguistic Society of America is doing in its eLanguage program. With partners, the LSA is “co-publishing” six gold OA journals and facilitating access to the archives for two more (IPrA Papers in Pragmatics, which became Pragmatics. Note that IPrA Papers in Pragmatics was founded and edited (1987-1990) by linguistic anthropologists Alessandro Duranti and Bambi Schieffelin.).  The other journals are Constructions, Dialogue & Discourse, Journal of Experimental Linguistics, Journal of Mesoamerican Languages and Linguistics, Linguistic Issues in Language Technology, and Semantics and Pragmatics.

In addition to a range of LSA and non-LSA affiliated groups, university/government partners behind these journals include:  the Ministry of Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Stanford University, MIT, and University of Texas-Austin.

I feel foolish that I am only learning about this amazing effort now. (I have been away from my own linguistic anthropology work for some time…) A full prospectus (dated Septemebr 15, 2006!!!) is accessible here on the LSA website. The journal portal itself is here at http://www.elanguage.net/.

The effort appears to be thriving.  Congratulations to the LSA and its partners!  (I am going to have to weave this effort into my revision of my AAA paper on society partnerships.)

On Green OA and the Future of AAA Publishing at #AAA2011

Yesterday I participated in the forum on the “Future of AAA Publishing” that was staged during the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings. I joined this event because I was asked to do so by Michael F. Brown, a fine colleague who would is working hard to be helpful in the organization’s scholarly communications vision quest. My prepared remarks from the event are offered below CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0). Readers of my statement will see that I did not really address the future as much as try to engage the muddled present. I care very much about the future of scholarly communications and am very interested in all the excellent thought that colleagues beyond anthropology and folklore studies are giving to cutting edge discussions of it. The context and venue for my remarks, as well as the five minute time limit on panelist statements, shaped how I used my time. I was trying to serve an educational role. Each panelist had a different piece of the story to reflect upon (association finances, tenure and promotion, international issues, etc.), thus there was not space or audience readiness for more complex matters, such as curatorial models of journal editing, metadata protocols, the weakness of STEM-centered philanthropic efforts in Africa, open source platforms, patron driven acquisition, non-disclosure agreements vis-a-vis big bundle deals, etc. Things are what they are.

Green Open Access Practices

Jason Baird Jackson

I want to thank the organizers of today’s event for their invitation to participate in this discussion. I have had a lot to say elsewhere [ex: my interview with Ryan Anderson on OA and anthropology] about publishing practices in our field and my remarks will be focused on a single node in the larger network of issues. I agreed to take on the slice dealing with green open access practices because this is a realm in which the matters before us are largely no longer policy setting debates but are instead questions of education and implementation. It is in this more modest context that I hope to contribute some observations that may be useful.

Despite organizationally opposing so-called green open access mandates (ex: AAA 2006; Calpestri 2006; Davis 2010), the American Anthropological Association is already a green open access [-friendly] publisher (AAA 2006). I am very proud of the association’s leadership in this regard. We were ahead of the curve when, in 2005, the association adopted an author agreement that allowed association authors to circulate post-prints in conformity with standard green OA practices and in compliance with the mandates that govern the work of some of our colleagues (AAA 2006). In adopting a green author agreement, the AAA joined the approximately 63% of scholarly journals that similarly allow authors to circulate their work down the green open access path (RoMEO 2011). But what does this mean? How does one do it? Read more

On “The Future of AAA Publishing: A Forum for Discussion” #aaa2011

Dear Anthropologists,

How we publish our scholarship impacts how we teach and do research. It affects how we are evaluated. It has direct consequences on life in contemporary communities, including those that ethnographers, linguists, and biological anthropologists study (with) and those who live next to, or possess a connection to, the archaeological sites that we investigate. It also directly affects those whose cash makes the publishing enterprise happen, including very significantly the students whom many of us teach and the would-be students who cannot afford to be taught.

Please consider attending today’s discussion on The Future of AAA Publishing and share your views. The session is 4-0960 and is happening in Convention Center 516D at 1:45 p.m.

I will be trying to explain “green open access” in laypersons terms in five minutes.

See you there.

Jason

Open Access Discussions at #AAA2011 and @savageminds

One last thanks to Ryan Anderson for his interview with me on open access issues. The final third was published today on Savage Minds. I hope that it proves useful to someone. The timing of the interview is great because I will be party to a couple discussions of scholarly communications issues at the American Anthropological Association meetings, which have already begun in Montreal.

In the session Digital Anthropology: Projects and Projections, I will be discussing library-scholarly society partnerships on the basis of my work with colleagues on the Open Folklore project. This panel is packed with wonderful colleagues and great projects. Thanks go to Mike Fortun for organizing it. It happens Sunday morning.

On Friday I will be part of a forum on The Future of AAA Publishing. I thank the AAA leadership for the invitation to participate in this gathering.

For everyone going to #AAA2011, have a great meeting.

Open Access Interview Part Two @savageminds

Thanks again to Ryan Anderson for working with me on an interview exploring the basic issues relating to open access in anthropology and folklore. The second part of three has now been published on Savage Minds. As always I appreciate Savage Minds for hosting such considerations of these issues.

Interview on Open Access @savageminds

Thank you very much to anthropologist Ryan Anderson for inviting me to do an interview on open access issues in anthropology. He has begun publishing it on Savage Minds and re-broadcasting it on his weblog ethnografix. Ryan is also one of the organizers of the online anthropology magazine anthropologies. The current issue focuses on Appalachia and includes essays by Britteny M. Howell, Ann Kingsolver, Tammy L. Clemons, Shaunna L. Scott, Amanda Fickey and Lynne Rieske-Kinney, and Sarah Raskin. Check it out.

Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ethnografix

Genres Leak, Being a Reflection on Michael E. Smith’s Essay on Semi-, Quasi- and Pseudo- Journals

On his weblog Publishing Archaeology, Michael E. Smith raises key questions about the status of a mode of scholarly communication for which he is in search of a name. To guide his thinking, he considers two actual web publishing projects in anthropology: (1) Anthropologies and (2) Anthropology of This Century. Committed to the centrality of the established peer-reviewed journal form (but eager to advance open access and also a blogger himself) he wonders what to call these journal-like publishing efforts. Noting that these publishing efforts have some clear similarities to conventional journal but that they are also, in some ways, different, the possibilities that occur to him include semi-, quasi-, and pseudo- journal.

I do not have answers for Michael’s questions all nailed down perfectly myself, but I doubt that semi-journal or quasi-journal or pseudo-journal will, in practice, stick. There are a great many experiments going on in scholarly communication and I think that we will eventually discover the right names for specific kinds of projects. I think that the label “journal” is likely going to continue to spread to refer to a greater diversity of communicative forms. For me, the key thing that we know now is that it is important not to conflate platforms with genres (or with quality). Read more

On the Harvesting of Low Hanging Fruit #oaweek

In disciplinary contexts, community discussions of open access and related issues in scholarly communications often get bogged down and then stall out. The reasons for this seem to me to be many. For example, participants rooted in their own particular discipline often guess about the meanings attached to key terms rather than finding, and then working from, common definitions established outside their own fields. Similarly, they often approach the various issues as if their subject area was the first, or only, field confronting these issues. In this spirit, considerable effort is then devoted to reinventing the wheel. Beyond the simple fact that the issues are really complicated and can be approached from a large number of perspectives, another problem stems from an all or nothing sensibility. The largest or most intractable problem is often quickly put on the table for consideration and proceeds to becomes a conversation stopper.

Its this last dynamic that I would like to briefly address. Put simply, we do not have to solve the most difficult problems first. Instead, we can search out and harvest the low hanging fruit. Low hanging fruit is easy and inexpensive to gather. Gathering it, we learn and gain experiences (and buy time) that will allow us, eventually, to tackle bigger challenges on the basis of experience gained and lessons learned. When we spend little or no time/money pursuing the smaller, easier prospects, we put less at risk and we can afford to learn from our mistakes. A single fall out of the top of a tree can be catastrophic. Standing on the ground, we can usually stumble and fall countless times without doing ourselves any great harm.

It is in the spirit of making progress in the harvesting of low hanging fruit–wherein significant good can be done in an easy and inexpensive way–that I recently suggested a way in which the conference programs and abstracts of the American Anthropological Association could be made freely available online to all interested users as part of the HathiTrust Digital Library. My recent suggestion of this strategy was offered as small part of an important discussion of the future of the AAA publishing program that was begun on the AAA weblog. It can be found there attached to the first of two posts by Michael F. Brown. The first (on which I commented) can be found here and a second post, dealing with the expense picture for the total AAA publishing program, is here.

Starting with the easier and less risky tasks is also the strategy underpinning the American Folklore Society/Indiana University Bloomington Libraries’ joint project called Open Folklore. Now entering its second year, most of the progress that the project has made so far could be understood as gathering low hanging fruit. What is exciting is that if enough such modest efforts are pursued concurrently, they add up to results that are definitely not a small matter.

Readers interested in looking at the basket into which a large amount of low hanging fruit has been gathered, can consult the project reports of the Open Folklore project. Over the course of three narrative accounts–the first offered at launch, the second offered at the six month mark, and the most recent at the twelve month point–a large diversity of open access accomplishments are described. In and of themselves, each represents a relatively modest resource and a readily accomplished task. Taken together, they represent significant progress towards the goal of making folklore studies a more accessible discipline. No make-or-break revenue streams were harmed in the making of the Open Folklore portal and the work that has been accomplished is as robustly and professionally preserved as is possible in the year 2011.

Like all scholarly societies confronting these questions, the AFS faces giant uncertainties in the years and decades ahead. There are many questions that will eventually need to be faced. For instance, will it ever be possible to make The Journal of American Folklore accessible in a gold OA fashion? Probably, but the pathway to getting there is hardly clear and, for the present, solving the riddles of revenue, expense and organizational sustainability in that context is too big a task. My argument is that there are other ways to make steady progress that do not require us to take on excessive risk or to immediately untie the tightest, most complicated knots.

I encourage interested anthropologists to join the conversation that Michael F. Brown is hosting at the AAA weblog. Folklorists with thoughts on the future of scholarly communications in our field are invited to comment here or to write to me privately.

This post reflects my own thinking on the questions that it addresses and should not be read as an official statement by any of the organizations or projects with which I am associated.

Open Access Week + Occupy Scholarly Communications #occupyscholcomm #oaweek

My job is eating my lunch at present so I have not yet had time to engage properly with open access week, which began today (well, yesterday since it just passed midnight where I am). Learn more from the Open Access Week website here ( http://www.openaccessweek.org/ ) and by searching “Open Access Week” on the open web and by looking for “open access week” and “#oaweek” on Twitter. Thankfully many good folks are working hard to get the word out.

If you think that the Occupy Wall Street (etc.) folks have anything like a point in their concerns about the unsustainable nature of the status quo or the need to acknowledge the influence that a small number of large corporations have in our lives and work, then the open access movement, together with the critique of, and efforts to reform, the scholarly communications system are for you. Above and beyond discussions of open access, a taste of the Occupy Scholarly Communications conversation can be found in Heather Morrison’s October 23, 2011 post “High Profits for Commercial Publishers-or Jobs for Academics Let’s #occupyscholcomm”

Next year, when open access week comes again, lets hope that some of the most vocal, articulate, and visible scholars working on questions of income inequality and corporate power will not have published their sophisticated accounts of emergent phenomena such as the Occupy movement with publishers like Polity (people Polity effectively = Wiley) and Palgrave-Macmillian or in journals owned wholly by Sage or Taylor and Francis. Our doing this occasionally is ironic and even kind of funny, but its starting to suggest that we actually do not get it, even when we get it.

Why Michael Wesch’s “Blogging” Should Count

In his essay “Blogging for Promotion: An Immodest Proposal” anthropologist Greg Downey outlines a clear set of actionable proposals for reform at the intersection of scholarly communications practices and academic tenure and promotion practices. I commend his essay, which was published today (10/20/11) on Neuroanthropology, a compelling and influential PLoS (Public Library of Science) weblog that he runs with Daniel Linde. Rather than discussing this important contribution here in depth, I am going to try enacting one of its proposals. (For reference, see especially the discussion that follows Downey’s section heading “An immodest proposal (not an indecent proposition)”.)

First the set up. I am working extensively right now preparing a new course for spring 2011. This course was devised as part of my participation in a two year think-tank funded by the Teagle Foundation (a funder supporting projects designed to foster innovation in undergraduate teaching and learning) and organized by the American Folklore Society. The AFS project was built around the theme “What is the relationship between lay and expert knowledge in a complex society?” Colleagues teaching in a range of institutions, from community colleges and private liberal arts colleges to large research institutions gathered to explore the frontiers of research-based teaching, changing curriculum practices, and the wider contexts of our work in a small border discipline bridging the humanities and the social sciences, as well as the academy and the public sphere. As part of our work, we developed plans for new courses and teaching resources. Part of my work focused on working out plans for the course that I will initially teach next spring (it opens for enrollment today).

I have mentioned the course here previously. In a nutshell it uses the toolkit of folkloristics (and by extension my other field–cultural anthropology) to consider human responses–including aesthetic, expressive, customary, and communal responses–to a range of recently emergent and highly contested human social problems. Called “The New Social Problems: Communal and Expressive Responses” the new problem domains to be considered include such things as the digital divide, genetic engineering, intellectual property contests, and nanotechnologies. I am sure that I will be discussing the course further as it moves forward. The important point in this context is noting the influence that one colleague–whom I do not know and whom I have not yet met–has had on the shaping of my plans for this experimental course.

Michael Wesch, on his website/weblog Digital Ethnography (which is a key node in the digital infrastructure of his undergraduate-based research group), has regularly and effectively documented the pedagogical experiments and research work that he has been pursuing (over many years) with many successive groups of Kansas State University students. Wesch has been appropriately recognized and celebrated for the innovative work that he and his students have been doing. What I want to highlight here is that the manner in which he has documented and explained this work has made it richly available for the wider scholarly community. Because he has used http://mediatedcultures.net as a venue for reporting on his work, his strategies and experiences are openly and immediately accessible to me (and to my students) as well as to everyone else able to surmount the digital divide. Essays like “Our Class on How We Run Our Class” in which Wesch and his students describe (and enact) the technical and intellectual strategies through which a standard U.S. undergraduate course is turned into a deeply meaningful research collaboratory for social scientific investigation are just not available in the conventional published literature in our field. It is on the basis of the inspiration provided and the information conveyed by Wesch and his students that I am able to imagine a very different kind of course to pursue with my own students in January.

Michael Wesch’s Digital Ethnography efforts represent the kinds of “blogging” work that deserves to count as a substantive scholarly contribution (bridging teaching, research, and service) in such areas as annual review and tenure and promotion considerations.

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