Ethics, Archaeology, and Open Access

Posted in: Archaeology, Archaeology and Media, ASOR, Digital Archaeology, Publications
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By: Eric Kansa

The issue of open access to scholarly works recently gained renewed attention following the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist charged with felony computer and intellectual property crimes involving the mass download of articles from JSTOR. ASOR uses JSTOR as a repository for the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) and Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA)*.

Eric Kansa, a member of ASOR and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) wrote the following opinion piece regarding the implications of Swartz’s death for scholarly communications in archaeology. The following reposts Eric’s discussion and a response from Fred Limp, President of the SAA. Both were originally posted here: and here:

Eric directs Open Context, an open data publication service for archaeology. He originally discussed open access issues in NEA (2007) with his colleagues Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Jason Schultz. He also co-edited (with Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Ethan Watrall) Archaeology 2.0, an open access book about new modes of scholarly communication published with the Cotsen Institute Press (UCLA). His most recent contributions exploring open access in archaeology are published in a special of World Archaeology (2012) edited by Mark Lake, and in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies (in press). (more…)

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4 Comments for : Ethics, Archaeology, and Open Access
  1. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Open Access in Archaeology « The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World

  2. Reply


    I am a commercial publisher. You are a strong advocate of open access scholarly publications. You and I have points of agreement as well as disagreement. But you don't need to try to make your case by likening scholarly publishers (even not-for-profit ones like JSTOR) with traders in illegal antiquities. Or threaten that all scholars will be arrested and accused of murder for file sharing with their students.

    There are lots of real issues here. I agree with you on many of them. But this kind of distortion does not advance that dialogue. C'mon, let's keep this discourse where it belongs.

  3. Reply

    Thanks for your comments Mitch! It got me thinking about these issues more, and inspired me to further elaborate on my points here:

    All the best,


    • John R Caulk
    • February 8, 2013

    As an independent researcher who must spend an hour or two travelling to an affiliated University, I wish I could pay JSTOR an annual fee commensurate with my usage and be allowed beyond the pay wall. I can't understand why this wouldn't be profitable to JSTOR as well.

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