Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leveraging established recognition for new OA journals

Scott Jaschik, Abandoning Print, Not Peer Review, Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2008.

... There are hundreds of scholarly journals published online, plenty of them free. But what makes Museum Anthropology Review’s launch notable is that it is being led by the same editor as the traditional journal, Museum Anthropology, using the exact same peer review system. For years, the criticism of the free, online model has been that it would be impossible for it to replicate the quality control offered by traditional publishing. When online journal publishers have boasted of their quality control, print loyalists have said, in effect, “well maybe it’s good, but it can’t be as good as what we’re doing.”

To this subjective criticism, open access advocates can now point to someone who knows exactly what the standards are at both journals, as he’s leading them both. And while the professor has set up the journal with his own university library, this project isn’t focused on one university’s scholarship, but the best articles in the field — again, precisely the model that makes the best journals vital to scholars. ...

Christopher Kelty, a visiting assistant professor of the history of science at Harvard University, said he sees the development of this new online alternative as important far beyond one specialized area of scholarship. The traditional journal in the field, Museum Anthropology, was published through the American Anthropological Association, which made a controversial deal with Wiley-Blackwell last year to take over management of the association’s journals. The Indiana model isn’t just online and free, but is much more decentralized, Kelty noted, giving individual editors and libraries the ability to work out arrangements that make sense for each publication.

“Centralizing everything and making everyone publish the same kinds of articles with the same formats and same constraints may cut costs, but it deadens the possibility for innovation or editorial vibrancy,” Kelty said. “It does a disservice to the anthropologists who have agreed to edit section journals and who have done so primarily because of the intellectual challenge it offers in shaping a new intellectual tradition, responding to current events or transforming a journal with new blood.”

Kelty added that the birth of the online, independent model isn’t just “a sign of the times” but is “the sign of the end times” for traditional journal publishing. ...