Open Access and magical thinking

For Open Access Week, Savage Minds is hammering the AAA again for failing to fall into step with OA partisans. As my original blog post stated, I have no objection to thoughtful OA experiments, and I admire the efforts of organizations that are trying to make OA work in financial terms. But the jury is still out on OA’s viability in anthropology, a profession whose members have almost universally rejected the author-pays model that dominates in STEM disciplines. I’d find Savage Minds’ case for OA more persuasive if it were fact-based rather than faith-based. –mfb

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oa_logoIn late May of 2015, the board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology issued a statement about the society’s shift to  Open Access distribution of its journal, Cultural Anthropology. The statement is reasonably judicious  considering that many OA partisans insist  that anthropology has an overriding moral duty to make its findings available at no cost to the world at large and that any distribution model settling for less than this is ethically indefensible.

The SCA deserves praise for its courage and the skill with which it has created an attractive, lively platform for topical discussion and distribution of its articles.  I have considerable respect for the SCA staff and leadership who have undertaken this effort with such élan.

That said, Cultural Anthropology‘s move to OA is not irony-free. The funds used to launch this experiment were the fruit of Cultural Anthropology’s royalties from the for-profit publisher Wiley-Blackwell’s contract…

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