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Posts from the ‘Scholarly Societies’ Category

Association of American Publishers Issues Horrible New Press Release in Support of a Horrible Bill: Where Do You Stand?

The Association of American Publishers has issued a awful new press release expressing enthusiasm for the Research Works Act, H.R. 3699 describing it as “significant legislation that will help reinforce America’s leadership in scholarly and scientific publishing in the public interest and in the critical peer-review system that safeguards the quality of such research.”

This is just the latest in an endless, dispiriting series of commercial publisher FUD campaigns and efforts at the further corporate enclosure of public resources. Advocates for the public interest in scholarship will resist H.R. 3699 and those with vested profits in the terrible status quo will support it. As with FRPAA, as always, a key question is where will the scholarly societies stand? Another is whether any more academic authors and editors will wake up and consider their role in the perpetuation of a system that is not only dysfunctional but also increasingly corrupt and immoral.

Money in politics? Corporate personhood? Policies that harm the poorest and help the most affluent? Academic authors–many of you are not connecting the dots that lead to your own practices.

Another question is where do those AAP members that are not-for-profit university presses (Chicago, California, Hawaii, North Carolina, Illinois (sigh), Texas, Tennessee) stand? Is the AAP speaking for you on this one? Don’t forget PRISM, y’all.

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

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.)

MLA Parternering with CUNY in Important Scholarly Communications Initiative: Commons in a Box

On the basis of my work on the Open Folklore project, I have spoken on a number of occasions in recent weeks about potential and power of scholarly societies partnering directly with universities in the development of tools, protocols, strategies, and projects in the scholarly communications domain. Along these lines, I am especially interested in the news that the Modern Language Association will be a partner in the Commons in a Box project announced by The City University of New York. This project brings together the open source tools already being used by CUNY Academic Commons and will make them available and easily installable at other institutions. For the MLA and its 30K+ members, these software tools will be the basis for MLA Commons. Read all about it in Audrey Watter’s story at Inside Higher Education.  Congratulations CUNY! Congratulations MLA members!

For an account of my presentation to the Digital Anthropology panel at the recent AAA meetings, where I spoke about university library+scholarly society partnerships in light of the AFS+IU Libraries partnership on Open Folklore, see the detailed summary published by Daniel Lende at Neuroanthropology.

ACLS Publishes 2011 Haskins Prize Lecture by Henry Glassie in Print and Video [Free Online]

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has published the textual and video versions of the 2011 Haskins Prize Lecture by Henry Glassie, College Professor of Folklore Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington. “Named for the first chairman of ACLS, the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture has as its theme “A Life of Learning.” The lecturer is asked “to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.”” Professor Glassie delivered his Life of Learning lecture during a meeting of the ACLS in Washington, DC on May 6, 2011. The first folklorist recognized with the Haskins Prize, Professor Glassie was preceded in the lectureship by many scholars of distinction, including William Labov, Clifford Geertz, Natalie Zemon Davis, John Hope Franklin, and Mary R. Haas.

Congratulations again to my friend, colleague, and teacher Henry Glassie on this remarkable honor.

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

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.

AFS Releases Lay and Expert Knowledge Project Reports #oaweek

In time for Open Access Week, the American Folklore Society and the Center for Folklore Studies at The Ohio State University have just made available a collection of reports and working papers derived from the Society’s project on Lay and Expert Knowledge in a Complex Society. This two-year project was funded by the Teagle Foundation as part of its “Big Questions and the Disciplines” program and focused examined undergraduate teaching of folklore in the contemporary world.

These materials are available now as volume 2 of the series Working Papers of the Center for Folklore Studies under the editorship of PIs Dorothy Noyes and Timothy Lloyd. This working paper series is made available through the OSU KnowledgeBank (the OSU institutional repository) and are harvested for search (OAI-PMH interoperability!) through the Open Folklore portal.

It has been an honor to participate in this project and I am super happy that first rate open access strategies are being used to make the work more accessible.

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.

A Day of Pre- Pre-conference Activities at #AFS11

Today, out of town folklorists started appearing around Bloomington for a series of events designed to rally the local troops and welcome the earliest of the visitors coming to Bloomington for the American Folklore Society meetings. I spent the early afternoon in a fruitful Open Folklore planning meeting, but my colleagues welcomed Dr. Fekade Azeze, Associate Associate Professor of Ethiopian Literature and Folklore, and Coordinator of the Folklore Graduate Programme, at Addis Adeba University in Ethiopia. USC Folklorist Tok Thompson moderated a discussion with Dr. Azeze at midday and then he delivered a lecture on customary dispute resolution in the afternoon. I made it to the talk and it was very stimulating material. Dr. Azeze described the customary legal system of two of the largest Ethiopian peoples and situated these practices in the contemporary context, describing efforts to study such systems as a means of indigenizing the national legal system, which is largely founded on non-Eithiopian principles and practices.

Immediately after the lecture, there was an opening reception for the Faces of Fieldwork exhibition curated by Pravina Shukla, Michael Lee, and Carrie Hertz and on exhibition at the Mathers Museum. The portrait photographs submitted by the contributing ethnographers were stunning, the exhibition was well mounted by the Mathers staff, and the reception was a nice opportunity to experience the exhibition and welcome guests to town for the meetings.

I had to get home for family responsibilities, by a departmental reception for early-arriving alumni (Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology) was held. I am sure that a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow things begin in earnest, with pre-conference tours both on-campus (IU research collections and archives) and off (Southern Indiana regional sights focusing on the limestone industry). The meeting will open formally tomorrow night, with the highlight being Henry Glassie’s plenary lecture and a big welcoming reception. I will spend the day in an AFS board meeting.

Safe travels and welcome!

On Making Conference Programs and Reports Back to 1889 Freely Accessible Online

Earlier I posted about the recent news from the Open Folklore project. One piece of the larger story was the news that the American Folklore Society, in partnership with the IU Bloomington Libraries, has made a nearly complete set of AFS conference programs and conference reports available for free online. These documents provide information on the annual meetings of the AFS going back to the society’s founding.  There are still a few missing items to be found and added to the collection, but its almost all there and this is an important accomplishment. These documents are can be found via Open Folklore search and browsed in IUScholarWorks Repository.

Most importantly, these documents are a valuable resource to scholars. They are key historical documents, but they are also invaluable to those who need to know who studied what when?

Beyond their documentary value, the folklorists and ethnologists involved in the AFS should be proud of this accomplishment. Through collaborative partnerships and the deployment of some elbow grease, another worthy open access milestone has been met. Such efforts require labor and in-kind support, but they do not require a major grant, custom digital infrastructures, and outsourced service providers.



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