“Care, Control, and the Politics of Access: Ethnographic Research and Open Data” March 23, 09-10am (GMT-6) | Open Scholar Café, Iowa State University

Calls for open data often center supposedly universal values of transparency and accessibility. This dialogue will examine such calls from the perspective of ethnographic research, where access to research data has historically been limited by design to protect communities, cultures, and individuals. What risks and rewards might openness carry in this context, and how might it reproduce existing forms of power and privilege? Join Marcel LaFlamme (@MarcelLaFlamme_), Open Research Manager at the scientific publisher PLOS, and Sebastian Braun, Director of American Indian Studies at Iowa State University, for a presentation and discussion about openness in ethnographic research in this month’s Open Scholar Café.

Opening Access to AAA’s Publishing Future | Society for Cultural Anthropology

“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….”

Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the flagship journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, will transition to Open Access starting in 2022

“Starting with Volume 30, Berghahn Journals will be the new publisher of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. The journal will be leaving Wiley to embark on becoming a fully open access journal as a part of the Berghahn Open Anthro – Subscribe to Open (S2O) initiative, which will enter its third year in 2022….”

How 3-D Scanning Is Reinventing Paleoanthropology – Scientific American

“My principal job on site is to reconstruct fossils, and so I was tasked with putting together the DNH 155 skull. It took around a week to fully remove the skull fragments and all the sediment gluing the pieces together from their original resting place within the Drimolen Main Quarry. As each of the roughly 300 fragments were painstakingly removed, they were digitized with an Artec Space Spider, a professional handheld 3-D scanner. The scanner shoots patterns of light that distort based on the geography of the object it is hitting and bounce back to the scanner—like a bat using sonar, but in this case, light rather than sound is what’s bouncing back and forth. This technology was used to create high-resolution digital records of each piece of the cranium’s location within the sediment in case any pieces unexpectedly dislodged….

The first phase of reconstruction was completed by manually putting the pieces together. But, even after manual reconstruction, there were some elements of the cranium that couldn’t be placed because the contact point was too small, or a tiny part of the edges had been lost. In these cases, the Artec software was used to digitally situate the parts in relation to one another. Specifically, the face of DNH 155 cannot safely be attached to the rest of the cranium. This fusion was achieved digitally. Although it could have been glued, joining the pieces in this fashion would have been risky and would likely have caused permanent damage to the fossil. The published reconstruction of the DNH 155 cranium would not have been possible without 3-D technology, which would have been a huge blow to the ability of other researchers to assess the fossil in the future….

Reconstruction was only one part of the research program designed to reveal the secrets of this rare skull. Many of the researchers who work on fossils from South Africa are unable to travel to Johannesburg to work on the originals. This is especially true for researchers who are not based at wealthy institutions, and for cash-strapped students in general. It is for this reason that the Drimolen team have invested significant capital to digitize the DNH 155 cranium and most of the Drimolen fossil assemblage. As a Ph.D. student myself, I am particularly interested in the potential for high quality 3-D scanners such as the Space Spider to democratize research by allowing free and easy access to research-quality data. While permissions and access to such data are controlled by the University of the Witswatersrand (in the case of the Drimolen fossils) it is our ultimate intention to share our data with researchers, particularly early-career researchers, who are pursuing a topic related to the South African hominin fossils…..”

Jisc and Berghahn Journals offer UK universities a “Berghahn Open Anthro UK Flexible Journals Package”

“Jisc and Berghahn Journals have entered into an agreement to offer UK libraries a bespoke subscriptions package as part of the Berghahn Open Anthro – Subscribe to Open (S2O) initiative. Launched in 2020, the initiative has been successfully adopted by the library community and partner organisations, Libraria and Knowledge Unlatched. S2O is a sustainable and equitable open access model that is gaining steam as the benefits to all participants in the publishing ecosystem is ever more apparent. Berghahn Open Anthro now enters its second year of providing full open access to all thirteen journals in the collection….”

Subscribe to Open: A Mutual Assurance Approach to Open Access  – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Annual Reviews announced today that the 2020 volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology has been published open access and that the back volumes of this journal are also now available for free reading. As the pioneer of the Subscribe to Open model, congratulations are due on achieving their first open title. The 2020 articles are published copyright to Annual Reviews with a CC-BY license. The backfiles do not carry a CC license. Annual Reviews developed their Subscribe to Open model in partnership with Raym Crow, Managing Partner, Chain Bridge Group, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As interest in Subscribe to Open grows based on the experiences of early innovations, publishers and libraries need to develop an understanding of the various approaches to Subscribe to Open and the benefits and limitations of the model….

Subscribe to Open is an example of an assurance approach to addressing a collective action challenge. In the Subscribe to Open model developed by Annual Reviews, each subscribing library is motivated to continue to subscribe (because they have been a subscriber and as such have already made a decision that the content is worth paying for) by a discount that is built into the Subscribe to Open offer. The model is two-fold. First, if all libraries continue to subscribe, then not only will those libraries have access to the content for their users, but Annual Reviews will also make the content openly available to non-subscribers as well and apply a CC-BY license to the articles. Second, if all libraries do not continue to subscribe, then those that do will still receive the discount — as well as access to the content — but the content will not be made available to non-subscribers. In either scenario, the subscribing libraries receive a discount and access to the content. Essentially, this is a no-risk opt-in for the subscribing institution. Martin Paul Eve has outlined a similar possible model for society publishers but with a three year rather than annual timeframe. …”

The Simplest of Models for Open Access to Research Proves Itself: Welcome to Subscribe-to-Open – Slaw

“I devote this blog to a far more here-and-now breakthrough in increasing public access to research.

It arises out of the work of a half-dozen anthropologists (and me), who think that, given their study of people and society, they have a moral duty to share that work with those people and that society. This group, Libraria by name, has worked over the last two years with Berghahn Books, a social science publisher of books and journals. Like other scholarly publishers these days, Berghahn is part of the open access consensus on the value of this approach to research, while still exploring how best to get to there.

For 2020, Berghahn and Libraria agreed to try out an idea that I introduced in a 2017 SLAW blog post on tapping into research libraries’ strong support for open access by asking them – wait for it – to actually subscribe to open access. That is, what if libraries agreed to continue paying the subscription fees to journals that they were already subscribing to, only the journals flipped to open access. The libraries would be subscribing to open access by supporting journals to which they were already subscribing, providing those journals with a path to open access.

The advantages of a subscribe-to-open model go beyond this simplicity: The journal moves overnight to complete, immediate open access. No article processing charges (APC) for authors to pay (as in many other open access journals). No 12- 36 month embargoes before the work is open. No revenue loss or quality reduction for publishers. No additional expense for libraries. And no – this one’s a complicated new one – use of a publisher’s subscriptions fees to pay for its APCs to allow a limited number of authors from the subscribing country to make their articles open, which is known as Read and Publish (often requiring months if not years of negotiation)….”

The ground-breaking subscribe-to-open pilot – Berghahn Open Anthro – will flip thirteen anthropology journals to open access in 2020

“Hailed as the largest concerted disciplinary journals flip to open access since SCOAP3, Berghahn Books will take the step of publishing thirteen core anthropology journals as open access starting with their 2020 volumes under the subscribe-to-open model (S2O)….”

The ground-breaking subscribe-to-open pilot – Berghahn Open Anthro – will flip thirteen anthropology journals to open access in 2020

“Hailed as the largest concerted disciplinary journals flip to open access since SCOAP3, Berghahn Books will take the step of publishing thirteen core anthropology journals as open access starting with their 2020 volumes under the subscribe-to-open model (S2O)….”

3D Printing and the Murky Ethics of Replicating Bones

“TEN YEARS AGO, it wasn’t possible for most people to use 3D technology to print authentic copies of human bones. Today, using a 3D printer and digital scans of actual bones, it is possible to create unlimited numbers of replica bones — each curve and break and tiny imperfection intact — relatively inexpensively. The technology is increasingly allowing researchers to build repositories of bone data, which they can use to improve medical procedures, map how humans have evolved, and even help show a courtroom how someone died.

But the proliferation of faux bones also poses an ethical dilemma — and one that, prior to the advent of accessible 3D printing, was mostly limited to museum collections containing skeletons of dubious provenance. Laws governing how real human remains of any kind may be obtained and used for research, after all — as well as whether individuals can buy and sell such remains —  are already uneven worldwide. Add to that the new ability to traffic in digital data representing these remains, and the ethical minefield becomes infinitely more fraught. “When someone downloads these skulls and reconstructs them,” says Ericka L’Abbé, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, “it becomes their data, their property.”…”

Berghahn to pilot the move of 13 anthropology journals to Subscribe-to-Open | STM Publishing News

“Berghahn Books, the social sciences publisher based in Brooklyn, NY and Oxford, U.K., has announced a pilot to move 13 of the anthropology journals it publishes to Open Access (OA) from 2020 onwards. In partnership with Libraria, a group of anthropologists and other social scientists committed to open access, and the support of Knowledge Unlatched, Berghahn will be asking libraries current subscribing to these journals to renew for 2020 on a Subscribe-to-Open basis, which will make these journals free to readers and authors everywhere….”

L+H in Anthropology, v2.0 – Google Docs

In its simplest terms and inspired by growing research funder commitment to open access (see Plan S), Libraria is proposing a Library+Funder (L+F) model that first of all harnesses the Gates Foundation’s strategy, in which the research funder pays the publisher directly for the cost of publishing the research it has supported. It then combines Gates’ direct-payment strategy with the success of SCOAP3, Open Library of Humanities, and Knowledge Unlatched in soliciting broadly based library support for sustaining open access journals.

To enable anthropology journals to convert from subscriptions to open access under this proposed L+F model, funding agencies that support the research published in the journals would be asked to cover their share of the publishers’ revenue which was previously derived from subscriptions. In addition, the libraries subscribing to the journals undergoing this conversion would be asked to cover the remainder of the revenue needed to replace the money previously collected through subscriptions. In the case of the 21 anthropology journals that we have examined thus far (data), funders have sponsored the work of roughly a quarter of the items published, which leaves the libraries to cover the other three-quarters. If only the leading funders participate in the initial roll out of the model, which seems like a reasonable starting point, their share would be smaller but the libraries would still pay less than they would for a subscription (with more of the details below).…”

Post-Workshop Libraria Plan – Google Docs

What follows below is Libraria’s proposed role in supporting, in the first instance, the Berghahn open access pilot in anthropology. The plan is set out in generic terms, directed toward all publishers that may be interested in such a move. Our intent is to work with Vivian Berghahn on #1-4 before the summer of 2019, with BOA journals going open access in 2020, if subscribe-to-open targets are reached during the fall of 2019. The results of the pilot will begin to be shared through 2020. During this time, Libraria members will continue to reach out to publishers, editors, societies, and funders about participation in further phases of a piloting and rolling out of the model (while inviting you to reach out to us to continue the conversation).


  1. Encourage interested publishers to identify a set of titles, target numbers, and flip-thresholds for a pilot or in scaling up of this model for open access in anthropology and the social sciences.

  2. Support publishers’ development of 3-4 options for OA materials (e.g.,different levels of detail), pitch, and pricing models.

    1. Review, prior to release, proposed options with libraries, consortia, subscription agents, and content licensees.

    2. As a result, devise subscribe-to-open marketing campaign, w/ sales strategies & targets.  

    3. Create a slide deck for presentation of pilot by publisher and Libraria members.

  1. Work out general principles with publishers for third-party participation (e.g.,  JSTOR, EBSCO, ProQuest, Knowledge Unlatched).

  1. For example, for subscription agents

    1. Publisher’s current agencies offer materials for OA package and individual titles, as per prior agent agreements.

    2. Other agents invited to list and sell package in non-exclusive offering.

    3. Invite feedback on early sales responses and make adjustments to materials.

  2. Options for those who license content from publishers

    1. All-in from the outset: Licensee lets its subscribers know of “subscribe-to-open” pilot, while presenting publisher’s OA package as option, with small price reduction for rest of content from which package (or portion thereof) has been removed.

    2. Wait-out-the-pilot: Licensee lets its subscribers know of pilot, while maintaining status quo with its content access and publisher agreement. If OA package continues beyond pilot, licensee will separate OA content from the rest, adjust price, and possibly offer OA package to clients as well.


  1. Establish with publishers a number of measures for assessing the impact of open access (with release of parenthetical measures at the publisher’s discretion).

    1. Proportion (and number) of libraries that “renew” previous subscriptions on OA basis.

    2. Proportion (and number) of current subscribers that opt for OA package.

    3. Proportion (and number) of new “subscribers” to OA titles or package.

    4. Changes in readership numbers and geography and occupation (via pop-up question).

    5. Changes in submission and acceptance numbers for pre/post pilot

    6. Changes in authorship of submissions and publications for pre/post pilot.


  1. Recommend technical upgrades for participating publishers.

    1. Implement Crossref Open Funder Registry for tracking this potential source of support.

    2. Promote ORCID registration for tracking author, reviewer, etc. participation impact on a global and local (library community) scale.

    3. Develop library IP tracking to establish community usage to promote growth in library participation.  


  1. Track funders supporting research published in participating journals.

    1. Identify leading funders of the published research.

    2. Develop case with individual funders for supporti

At MIT anthropologists plan a model for Open Access

“Publishers, librarians, research funders, and leaders from across the field of anthropology — including journal editors and representatives of the major Anglophone anthropological societies of both Europe and North America — gathered at MIT on April 24, 2019 for an invitational workshop focused on a sea change for everyone who attended: moving the discipline’s journals to an Open-Access (OA) model.

Currently, the expense of academic publishing creates significant barriers to the broad dissemination of scholarly findings. The goal of the workshop was to consider a new model for providing open access to journal publications in a way that could transform both anthropology and a full range of academic disciplines….”