I am pleased to report that our Association is among the 11 scholarly and professional societies that form the launch cohort of the Alliance for Open Scholarship. This Alliance grows out of an ongoing National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Scholarship. The National Academies Roundtable project has been at work for more than a year now, and brings together senior leadership from higher education and federal and philanthropic research sponsors to rethink research evaluation and better incentivize and reward openness and transparency in research. Now this group has invited scholarly and professional societies like ours to participate.
We can play an important role in setting standards for incentives, infrastructure, and training that will help change the climate in which scholarly research takes place, advancing core values in equity, inclusion, trustworthiness, and accountability. The Association joins the Alliance in affirming its support for the open sharing of research and scholarship as a key enabler of these core values. We can operationalize our pursuit of these values by collating and sharing promising practices that can be incorporated into recruitment, promotion, and tenure standards. We can also build on the training materials we have developed for digital data management and look for ways of aligning awards and recognition schemes.
Our mission at AAA is to advance our collective understanding of the human condition through anthropological research, teaching, and practice, and to apply that advanced understanding to addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. We aspire to do this in a way that is ethical and professionally responsible, serving as trusted co-creators of knowledge with community-based collaborators, and holding ourselves accountable to those who have been marginalized or harmed outright by historical actions. To these aspirational ends, our participation in the Alliance reflects a commitment to:
- supporting and sustaining open infrastructure, including but not limited to data repositories, code and software repositories, ontologies, and tools that enable machine reading and data mining;
- providing training opportunities and resources to current and next generation researchers on sound open research and scholarship practices, including, but not limited to, FAIR and CARE data sharing, data management plans, preregistration, preprinting, and self-archiving of papers and other research outputs such as software and code;
- devising recommendations for colleges and universities to evaluate and incentivize sound open research and scholarship practices for the purposes of hiring, review, tenure, and promotion;
- promoting the direct links among open research and scholarship; broader societal impacts; diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility; and community engagement; and
- aligning awards and recognition schemes to promote a climate of open research and scholarship in our field.
Over the next year or so, aligned with one of our strategic priorities and to make sure that our words are backed by actions, we will be developing a plan outlining the steps we will take to advance open research and scholarship in our discipline. We are not exactly starting from scratch. Over the past decade, we have been putting the scaffolding in place to support the next wave of advances towards an open future. We have offered guidance to departments on promotion and tenure standards that acknowledge the rigor, originality, and impact of such forms of scholarly communication as museum exhibitions, ethnographic filmmaking, and the creation of open educational resources (OERs) for teaching and learning. It is not too great a leap to the task of identifying additions to the evaluation rubric that will serve the interests of open scholarship.
We have also developed an initial set of training materials for digital data management planning, an upstream point of intervention for a variety of data types in the anthropological record, addressing considerations such as privacy/confidentiality concerns, data ownership and use permissions, and planning to reduce the significant resources required for retrospective preparation of open data sets. It is not too great a leap to add “data sharing” to the data management planning enterprise, and refresh our training materials accordingly.
Thanks to the guidance of an international advisory group, and initial support from Wiley, we have developed the Open Anthropology Research Repository. Now on a user-friendly open source platform, OARR has the capability to highlight scholars from the Global South and materials in languages other than English, and incorporates a subject heading taxonomy that is specific to the field. Promoting OARR as a lively and equitable place for circulating and exchanging research, teaching, and practice materials is a logical next step.
In developing another infrastructural element, thanks to initial support from the Sloan Foundation, we piloted an approach to open access book review publishing, now sustained by the National Association of Student Anthropologists, that foreshortens the time to publication of book reviews.
Incentives, training, and infrastructure are key elements in building the pathway to an open future. Joining the Alliance will make sure we will be able to give and receive support as we go forward.