Getting to Journals 3.0

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Oona Schmid


Changes to the Publishing Program

In November 2013, the AAA Executive Board (EB) adopted a series of recommendations from the Committee for the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) that embrace new ways of producing and distributing its journals and endeavor to get the association’s publishing program on sustainable footing. These changes also ensure the association will have resources for new innovation (see “Mind the App Gap”). Specifically, the EB moved that member print copies (for all the titles covered in the Wiley-Blackwell service level agreement) will become fully digital starting in 2016. Individual members will be able to buy at cost a print subscription to any journal published by sections that member has joined. The EB authorized creation of a publishing oversight working group within CFPEP, a working group that will have three section representatives. And finally, the EB required that sections who would like to be included in any 2016 Request for Proposals to publishers would need to submit five-year plans (covering 2016–20), which will be reviewed by a Publishing Oversight Working Group of CFPEP. Even though the publishing contract does not expire until the end of 2017, we need to plan to either renew or locate a new partner in 2016.

Much like fieldwork, the publishing world is a work in progress. These changes do not represent a break with the past, rather, they show the ongoing advancement of the publishing program, a necessary progression that will improve the accessibility and visibility of our journals in response to changes in the publishing environment faced by newspapers, university presses, and other scholarly societies.

The evolution of the AAA publishing program can be divided schematically into three stages.

Journals 1.0 was the print-only phase. Submission, review and production, all conducted by post, took a long time. Visual images—photographs, maps, figures—required cumbersome hard copies. The AAA staff handled the production; nobody handled the marketing and publicity. Library subscriptions were steady and growing in many cases, but these subscribers were entirely in North America and only a few print copies were mailed to a handful of members overseas. This era was state of the art for many decades and served AAA well for much of the 20th century.

The association is now in Journals 2.0, a phase with both print and digital forms. Papers became available in PDF, a highly compact and portable format. Peer review picked up speed, with email communication between journal offices, reviewers and authors; production also sped up with electronic page proofs and electronic submissions of visual materials. Other changes arrived. AnthroSource allowed for users to locate referenced papers from any location with a modem. Digital supporting materials began to appear with online publication, and color images made visual materials more vivid. Many journals started using editorial software to track manuscripts, making the process smoother and quicker. These shifts were supported by our partnership with Wiley-Blackwell, beginning in 2008. This stage included a larger emphasis on marketing, and readership became more global, through digital collections sold by Wiley-Blackwell and also through participation in philanthropic initiatives. However, producing dual formats and expanded marketing, in the context of declining revenues, means that Journals 2.0 is an expensive stage for the AAA.

We now see Journals 3.0 approaching, the fully digital phase, an era in which the program secures financially sustainable footing and is able to innovate. To facilitate this transition, CFPEP developed a values statement to articulate the features of our publication program that are most important to us: quality, breadth, accessibility and sustainability. These values are intended to guide the association in making choices in this era of new technological opportunities, new possibilities for bringing anthropology to readers and new financial challenges as subscriptions continue to decline.

To realize Journals 3.0, the AAA will need to advance digital publication as the default format for member copies of the titles covered in the Wiley-Blackwell service level agreement starting in 2016. Print copies will be available, at cost, for any sections that the member has joined. Anthropology News, produced in-house by AAA staff, will continue to mail six print copies a year, a reduction of 33% of its 2011 frequency, and will publish monthly online issues at www.anthropology-news.org.

AAA and Wiley-Blackwell have plans to enhance AnthroSource so that the resource supports full-text search, responsive design that enables HTML text to be easily read on tablets and smart phones, and more multimedia options. We are eager to explore more fully the potential of digital publication: Electronic alerting tools, Early View™ to accelerate publication times, and video abstracts. AnthroSource is scheduled to relaunch with these new enhancements in January 2015.

Journals 3.0 is a stage with great potential for our publishing program. We encourage section leadership to reach for creative visions and possibly to consider or expand on the current AAA open access experiments (www.anthropology-news.org is ungated; Cultural Anthropology has converted to open access; and Open Anthropology launched in April 2013).

To support Journals 3.0, AAA plans to develop shared editorial software for manuscript tracking to support all titles in the portfolio; software like this will expedite review time, reduce editor labor and speed up the time to publication. It should also reduce costs.

AAA will also explore new workflows for book reviews, to reduce the lag between reviews and their antecedents and to facilitate tools that help scholarly presses survive.

All the above changes will assure that anthropology remains an exciting and vital field, and that anthropologists’ scholarly contributions of circulate in more effective and engaging ways.

 

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One Comment

  1. Oona Schmid
    Posted March 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    If you read our journals on the Wiley Online Library site, you may have noticed that today Wiley-Blackwell went live with their “enhanced article.” This means HTML versions of the content from 2008 onward will be more easily readable on smart phone and tablet computers. http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-819787.html

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