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With much of the AAA community still working remotely, the Publishing Futures Committee (PFC) continued to conduct its business remotely in 2021. The PFC, formerly known as the Committee for the Future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP), has three main responsibilities: broadening the dissemination of anthropological knowledge; the future development of AnthroSource, AAA’s digital portal to anthropological materials; and the current and future publishing program, including related information service programs and initiatives. PFC consists of nine permanent members and four ex-officio members from AAA leadership. As an advisory committee to the Executive Board (via the Anthropological Communications Committee), the PFC researches projects as assigned and keeps abreast of overall developments and trends in scholarly communication.

PFC is tasked with a wide variety of projects, including developing and executing a biannual editors’ workshop retreat, evaluating the future of open access and what is viable for the association, and ensuring that the publishing program retains the AAA’s core values of accessibility, quality, breadth, and sustainability while also incorporating equity.

The committee is tasked with creating an editor’s workshop retreat every other year. In March 2019, the event was held at the AAA office in Arlington, VA, with a day and a half agenda on different topics, ranging from the difficulty in finding peer reviewers to the different editorial office arrangements among the journals. Since the event could not be held in person and all-day virtual meetings can be fatiguing, the sessions—once again on an array of topics—were held over a two-week period in early May 2021. Topics ranged from an overview of the current publishing landscape to strategies for disseminating journal content to planning strategically for the primarily digital future. The PFC intends to hold another retreat in person in 2022 since the virtual event did not hold the same sense of community and camaraderie.

After wrapping up the retreat, the committee immediately moved into looking ahead to the next publishing contract. A small group of committee members were selected to meet with each section’s leadership and journal editor(s) to learn about each section’s preferences for the next publishing contract. As nearly all titles are subscription-based and there is an increased demand by membership for open access to the entire AAA portfolio, the PFC wanted to ensure that each section could voice an opinion on where its journal stands within the AnthroSource portfolio, be it remain subscription-based or become “diamond” open access, where the publisher (AAA) would cover publication costs rather than the author, their institution, or their funder. The feedback from each meeting was valuable and was used to draft a report for the AAA Executive Board in preparation for a request for proposals for a publishing partnership.

The remainder of 2021 was spent onboarding several new committee members and looking ahead to 2022, which includes adding “equity” to the current publishing core values (quality, accessibility, breadth, sustainability), developing an editorial advisory board for the AAA’s long-dormant monographs program, and exploring the feasibility of alternative publishing models beyond a traditional subscription basis for the AAA portfolio.


Janine Chiappa McKenna

Janine Chiappa McKenna is the director of publishing at the American Anthropological Association.

Mark Aldenderfer

Mark Aldenderfer is distinguished professor emeritus at the University of California Merced and chair of the Publishing Futures Committee.

Cite as

Chiappa McKenna, Janine and Mark Aldenderfer. 2022. “Publishing Futures in 2021.” Anthropology News website, January 31, 2022.

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