“The American Anthropological Association (AAA) publishing contract with Wiley comes to term in 2022. In light of this pressing deadline, several journal editors and section presidents have been meeting to uncover the common ground in our commitments and to determine what collective action might keep AAA’s expression of values front and center in our publishing practices and decisions.
We share AAA’s commitment to five “bedrock values” for our publishing program: quality, breadth, sustainability, access, and equity. Open access (OA) can be compatible with all five values, and should be a strategy that AAA considers deliberatively. We also advocate that in this moment of transition, AAA takes stock of ways in which all our interactions around publishing can become more democratic. We want more transparency around the publishing contracts and valuations that govern sections’ relative capacities. We want more input from editors as a collective in publishing decisions. And we want equitable labor practices that benefit our community.
We know from the 2020 AAA Editors Survey that there’s wide interest in and strong support for OA across AAA sections and journals. In June 2021, we carried out our own survey of twenty-seven journal editors and publishing section leaders, representing at least twenty-two AAA sections. We found that respondents had disparate understandings of what OA is and what it means for authors and journals. Nonetheless, 9 out of 24 respondents (37.5 percent) indicated that “if the AAA decides to renew its (previously 5-year) contract with Wiley and postpones discussion of Open Access publishing,” then “Yes,” their journal would “be interested in pursuing alternative means of going OA in the next year or so,” with another 13 (54 percent) indicating openness to the possibility (“Maybe”). Only 2 said “No.” We recognize that the questions OA raises about funding and revenue are significant. We further believe that once one learns more about the current academic publishing and OA landscape, these concerns are no longer as daunting….”