Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, January 22, 2007

Selective free online access to AnthroSource

Anthropologists give back: offer wider access to online anthropology archive, a press release from the American Anthropological Association, January 19, 2007.  (Thanks to Dorothea Salo.)

With a view to enabling teachers and their students at resource-poor institutions of higher learning around the world to access a vast online archive of anthropological research, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) announced today that it will offer its digital publications portal, AnthroSource, free of charge to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges, and qualifying institutions from less developed countries. The long-planned initiative is effective immediately.

The principal motivation behind the initiative, AAA officials note, is justice. At present, more than 90% of the roughly 145 HBCUs and Tribal Colleges in the United States and Canada do not subscribe to AnthroSource, a circumstance that deprives thousands of students in marginalized areas of North America access to 100 years of anthropological content, including the most recent issues of 15 peer-reviewed journals. AAA president Alan Goodman, one of the chief promoters of the initiative, declared that "Nothing - especially financial hardship - should stand in the way of these communities using AnthroSource to access anthropological scholarship. Our initiative is entirely consistent with the mission of the AAA - to disseminate anthropological knowledge." ...

Free or low-cost access will also be offered to eligible institutions in 113 less developed countries participating in the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), managed by the World Health Organization in partnership with more than 60 publishers....

A recurring theme in the AAA's deliberations on offering free access to AnthroSource was the notion of "giving back" to those who have given anthropology so much. Leith Mullings, a member of the AAA Executive Board, observed that "Anthropologists have been studying subordinated communities for years. The people in these communities have given our discipline its voice, its beauty, and its richness. They took us into their homes, trusted us, and supported our work. While these are gifts that can perhaps never be repaid, sharing the fruits of our collaboration with them through AnthroSource may help nurture future scholars in these communities." ...


  • AnthroSource now has the advantages and disadvantages of the HINARI-style access policy.  It's better than TA for everyone, but not as good as OA for everyone. 
  • Is it a coincidence that "justice" leads the AAA to donate subscriptions only where it can't sell them?  The argument from justice would be stronger if the AAA permitted immediate OA archiving for articles arising from publicly-funded research and if it withdrew its opposition to FRPAA
  • For background, the AAA publicly opposed FRPAA in May 2006, without consulting its members. When the AnthroSource Steering Committee supported FRPAA in an internal memo, eventually made public, the AAA leadership disbanded the committee.

Update. Here are some anthropologist bloggers talking about the new development.