AAA, AIA, and Open Science

Back in November, the US government's Office of Science and Technology Policy solicited comments on potential policy surrounding public access to scholarly work.  All comments were accepted through January 12 and were recently released.

The statement released by the American Anthropological Association can be read here, and the Archaeological Institute of America statement is here.  In short, both statements insist that there is no problem with public access to scholarly output.

The anthro-Twitter-verse, where there has been a long and interesting discussion on open access science, was immediately up in arms.  Anthropology bloggers have started posting, critiquing and condeming the AAA/AIA responses:
I'm pretty amazed at how narrowly the AAA defines "public" in their statement.  I thought that, as anthropologists, our public was, well, everyone.  Many of the bloggers above have already made cogent remarks that mirror my own views on open access science, so I'll end with a brief anecdote.

Anthropology graduate programs frequently take 10 years to complete.  At many institutions, funding is only available for a portion of that.  Graduate students drop out.  They do fieldwork and write their dissertations while not enrolled, to save on the cost of tuition that is not covered by any research grants they might have, then they re-enroll to graduate.  Since grad students obtain access to journals primarily through their graduate institution, dropping out means losing access to scholarly work in the field and even during the writing phase.  Most of us position ourselves near an institute of higher learning while we're writing - either our own or one at which we are adjuncting - because we know that it is imperative to have up-to-date information on our field.  But access to anthropological knowledge is not a given for these researchers.

It's problematic that the AAA doesn't recognize the problems that many grad students have accessing published research.  It shows that, as an organization, they are out of touch with the growing body of not just scholars-in-training, but also adjuncts and independent researchers.

I support open science, and I encourage you to do the same.  If you have thoughts on the topic, click through to the Savage Minds posts above and leave suggestions.


Katy said…
Great post Kristina! I totally agree, and support open science. I'm a little shocked that both the AIA and AAA responded in this manner, especially since the Amer. Folklore Society went the reverse way. I'm wondering is SAA is going to be responding to this, hopefully if they do it will be positive.
ryan a said…

That's a good point about grad students who are outside of the system. The "public" is certainly a lot more expansive than the current folks at the AAA seem to think. Strange, really, that they have taken this position. Anyway, thanks for this. And, by the way, your site is AWESOME. I love it and want to spend more time checking it all out.

Anonymous said…
Though this does not directly address the problem of journals not of making scholarly research accessible to the public, my city's public library has a website that gives access to many of the same databases to which I access through my university. The public library's site is only open to those with a library card from the library, but since getting a library card is free and open to any state resident, it does give all residents here free access to many journals/articles via the internet. During high school, this came in very handy since I did not have a university to rely on and my high school had identical access to that of the public library. I am not sure if this is the case with other states/public libraries, but I thought I would mention this for your readers to consider in case their public libraries have something similar and they had not been aware!

Popular Posts