By: Mitch Allen, Left Coast Press, Inc. & Mills College
Arguments over open access in scholarly publishing have crossed the radar of every scholar, publisher, or librarian not suffering from terminal senility. Open access would represent a global shift of control of scholarly publications from largely (but not exclusively) the private sector’s group of publishing houses to some as-yet-undefined group of scholarly individuals and institutions. Eric Kansa’s recent post on the ASOR blog has elevated it to the level of a social revolution and moral crusade. Eric, who has built his career around developing open access options for archaeology—his Alexandria Archive one of the most innovative initiatives around—can be forgiven his rhetorical excesses for this reason. But it does not get us to a solution for how to move forward on a sustainable publication model in archaeology any more than calls for the disbanding of global capitalism will end economic inequality in the 21st century world.
We already live in an age of open access for archaeological publishing. Anyone looking for information has thousands of free sources to consult. There are people and organizations compiling archaeological news digests each day. ISAW’s Chuck Jones has a blog that daily adds to the listing of open access sites on the web. Each excavation project has its own website which, in addition to photos of happy but dirty students playing in the squares, contains the annual preliminary reports— documents that have previously been difficult for archaeologists to obtain— and a smattering of photos of recent important finds. (more…)