Open Access Journal Publishing in Anthropology

Writing elsewhere on some related details concerning open access journal publishing in anthropology, I made the point that the phenomenon is largely not a North American one, even if in North American anthropology we might think that we have cornered the market in both the ideology and technology of open access. As I suggested in that other post, so far there has been more smoke than fire on the North American front. Let me give some examples using the database of journals listed at DOAJ, listing the countries in order of the number of open access anthropology journals, with a total of 53 journals currently listed:

USA – 9
France – 5
Argentina – 4
Chile – 4
India – 4
Japan – 4
Brazil – 3
Spain – 3
Colombia – 3
Estonia – 2
Germany – 2
Venezuela – 2
Austria – 1
Australia – 1
Finland – 1
Mexico – 1
Sweden – 1
Slovenia – 1
Trinidad – 1
UK – 1

If we were to add in the journals that are listed under Ethnology at DOAJ, and which are not also cross-listed as anthropology, the numbers would look like this:

USA – 11
France – 6
Chile – 5
Argentina – 4
India – 4
Japan – 4
Brazil – 3
Spain – 3
Colombia – 3
Australia – 2
Austria – 2
Estonia – 2
Germany – 2
Mexico – 2
UK – 2
Venezuela – 2
Finland – 1
Sweden – 1
Slovenia – 1
Trinidad – 1

Then if we add Archaeology the numbers would slightly change again, and they would change once more depending on how one ends up defining the scope of contemporary anthropology.

Clearly the United States has the lead in each, in terms of the number of open access journals published within its borders. And yet, let’s look at the picture this way and see what that might tell us:

Out of 53 open access journals in Anthropology,

  • 44 are published outside of the U.S. (that is 83%)
  • 28 are published outside of the U.S./Europe/Australia (that is 52%),
  • 17 are published in Latin America alone (that is 32%)
  • South America (including Caribbean, excluding Mexico): 32%
  • North America (including Mexico): 18%

If we include the journals listed in Ethnology, the total number of journals grows to 61 and the results are as follows:

  • 50 are published outside of the U.S. (that is 82%)
  • 28 are published outside of the U.S./Europe/Australia (again, 45%)
  • 19 are published in Latin America (that is 31%)
  • South America (including Caribbean, not Mexico): 29.5%
  • North America (including Mexico): 21%

Either way, open access publishing in anthropology is primarily not a North American phenomenon, and in the case of Anthropology listings that exclude Ethnology, it is primarily not a North American/European phenomenon. Indeed, the very Directory of Open Access Journals itself is not a North American innovation, but rather a Scandinavian one, and the host for it is Lund University Libraries. The innovations in the distribution, dissemination, and circulation of anthropology are coming in large part from the so-called periphery and semi-periphery of the world system, and outside of the disciplinary centre of gravity in terms of the accumulated mass of anthropologists and anthropology programs in the U.S. and western Europe. One can only speculate about what that will mean should the predominant mode of anthropological publishing in North America (commercial print, by subscription) collapse under the weight of its own contradictions and unsustainability. Suddenly the centre of anthropological publishing would shift to currently non-hegemonic entities.

Moreover, unlike the case in North America, Latin America and India have received the support of foundations and state agencies in supporting open access anthropology journals. In Latin America, there are two such networks, one being redalyc (network of scientific periodicals of Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal) which to date has published 549 journals and 105,736 articles; the other is scielo (the Scientific Electronic Library Online) which to date has published 551 journals and 181,803 articles. Scielo appears to have begun as a Brazilian initiative in 1997, supported by Sao Paolo State’s Foundation for Research Support (FAPESP) and the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CNPq). On a smaller scale, in India Kamla-Raj Enterprises, which has been publishing since 1933, is behind the open access publishing of almost all of the Indian anthropology journals online.

Perusing the journals in the Anthropology collection at DOAJ over these past months and years has led me to encounter some journals that are unique, focusing on the anthropology of art for instance. Interestingly, some of the slimmest journals in terms of numbers of articles published are in fact the North American ones, with far less invested in their overall design than some of their European and Latin American counterparts. There is little indication that these non-US journals are repositories for substandard research: Memoria Americana, a very useful journal of Latin American ethnohistory, has articles that remind one of what might be found in its offline counterpart, the Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR). Nuevo Mundo/Mundos Nuevos, based in France but with Latin American collaboration, is publishing some cutting edge research in Americanist studies. The Revista Chilena de Antropología Visual, is a very striking, sophisticated, richly presented resource of both articles and visual ethnographies. Universitas Humanística is a highly polished, well developed journal with numerous issues. India’s Studies of Tribes and Tribals also has numerous issues and articles, as does Germany’s Swahili Forum, publishing in English with a dozen issues to its name already.

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10 thoughts on “Open Access Journal Publishing in Anthropology

  1. I should also note that the blog, Open Access Anthropology, seems to be entirely divorced from the reality described above, that is, it seems to be entirely unaware of the international setting of open access publishing in anthropology and includes no representatives from that wider world. It even gives the impression that it is somehow breaking new ground, when the reality is that North Americans are already in a state where they will have to play catch-up. Indeed, none of its posts make any mention of any of the majority of non-U.S. open access journals in anthropology, a display of Eurocentrism that still seems to plague the North American discipline.

  2. Nice research, Max, and a timely reminder to all of us to venture beyond the familiar confines of Anglophone academia.

    Cuando tenga un rato libre me pongo a explorar esas revistas. Gracias.

  3. Thank you John, and it’s great to see you blogging. I had some time to explore your blog more in depth over the past couple of weeks and found quite a lot of really valuable posts, leads, information, etc. I’ll be recommending it to students. And I see that you and Owen have had some very productive exchanges as well. Thanks again.

  4. Adding some european open access repositories to your research, I’d like to suggest a few other social sciences sites and journals, including anthropology, offering “full-text-open-access” articles: revues.org, France [http://www.revues.org/]; Persée, France[http://www.persee.fr/]; Repositorium, Portugal [http://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/]; and the portuguese journals “Etnografica” [http://ceas.iscte.pt/etnografica/] and “Arquivos da Memória” [http://www.ceep.fcsh.unl.pt/ArquivosdaMemorianovaserie1.php].

    Yes, I think it´s very important to look around and beyond the anglophone academic frontiers, even if the written language is not fully “understandable” :-)

    Thanks (obrigada, in portuguese) for your post.

    Cristina Moreno

  5. I’ll second that. Very interesting numbers and research. it would certainly support the notion there are many anthropologies running alongside each other, rather than one Anthropology defining ideology and describing existence for all. Refreshing vista.

    My favourite passage was, “The innovations in the distribution, dissemination, and circulation of anthropology are coming in large part from the so-called periphery and semi-periphery of the world system, and outside of the disciplinary centre of gravity in terms of the accumulated mass of anthropologists and anthropology programs in the U.S. and western Europe. One can only speculate about what that will mean should the predominant mode of anthropological publishing in North America (commercial print, by subscription) collapse under the weight of its own contradictions and unsustainability. Suddenly the centre of anthropological publishing would shift to currently non-hegemonic entities.”

    How exciting.

  6. I like CM’s passage about some languages not being ‘fully understandable’. I had a lecturer in Madrid many years ago who would always encourage us to read in French. “Lean en frances tambien, por favor; lean en frances, que no es dificil”. We never did, of course, but we could have with a bit of effort and a dictionary handy. With hindsight, he should’ve have assigned us some short readings in French, Italian, Portuguese, etc, to get us started.

    It’s a bit harder to do with most UK students as the other Germanic languages are rather tougher to read for a Brit than, say, Portuguese or Italian would be for a Spaniard. (And they would never forgive me)

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