Open Access to anthropology journals? "How to find the money to publish journals if one doesn’t make readers pay?", opponents of Open Access would ask. But as Alex Golub explains in an article in Anthropology News April: The “reader-pays” model for funding publications (f.ex. membership fees) by the American Anthropological Association has been broken for a long time. "The choice we are facing", he writes, is not that of an unworkable ideal versus a working system. It is the choice between a future system which may work and an existing system which we know does not":
The AAA can develop a publishing program that can run in the black, but in order to do so it must take on board the central insight of the open access movement—that journals become more affordable (and open access becomes a more realistic option) when you lower production costs.
Advocates of open access argue that we can reduce the production costs of journals by up to two orders of magnitude by using free open source software to edit them, and using small-run printon-demand solutions. These cost savings could then be used to free journals from having to charge readers to view their content.
In order for us to develop less costly and more open publishing, we need to question some of our assumptions about how our publishing program works and how successful it has been.
It means moving beyond the idea that our current reader-pays model is somehow more “realistic” than open access alternatives.
Golub also criticizes the decision making process within the AAA. Although the AAA should have redesigned their website in time for the San José meetings in November 2006, nothing has happened yet:
If we can not redesign our website in a timely manner, how are we to reinvent our publishing program in a electronic age?