At the moment, the OAC includes a social networking site and a repository for self-archiving and other activities. Keith Hart and I would like to propose another initiative: the Open Anthropology Cooperative Press.

For us, the OAC is in many ways a re-invention of the small-triple-a, the amateur anthropological association, in the digital age. We would like to do the same for Prickly Pear Pamphlets: “We emulate the passionate amateurs of history who circulated new and radical ideas to as wide an audience as possible and we hope in the process to reinvent anthropology as a means of engaging with society.”

In the first instance, we would publish short and longer pieces online, while leaving future developments as open as the OAC itself. As part of the OAC, the Press would aim to remain true to the PPP prototype and would seek to give expression to new and radical ideas in anthropology from the young and old, the unknown and famous. We would like to open the idea to discussion and also solicit volunteers from the OAC membership to serve on the editorial board.

Justin

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As one of the big mouths here, I should volunteer. Count me in however seems useful.
Hi all

great initiative!

Re: Stacie's post about the OAC seminar series, yes it's definitely happening. We've got four presenters lined up for the coming academic year, starting 8-22 December with Vered Amit. More details here:

http://openanthcoop.ning.com/events/event/listUserEvents?user=173y6...

All suggestions for suitable discussants most welcome

John
Just took a quick look at the current offerings in the seminar series and would like to suggest that the presenters be asked to provide a more substantial abstract. Terms like "sociality" or "current research" are a little too bare bones to be attractive.

John Postill said:
Hi all

great initiative!

Re: Stacie's post about the OAC seminar series, yes it's definitely happening. We've got four presenters lined up for the coming academic year, starting 8-22 December with Vered Amit. More details here:

http://openanthcoop.ning.com/events/event/listUserEvents?user=173y6...

All suggestions for suitable discussants most welcome

John
Thanks John, will do!
Just to get the thread back to its ostensible subject... There are lots of issues to discuss here concerning short/long pieces, online/print, free/commercial, academic/trade, work in progress/finished article, linked to OAC (e.g. seminars, workshops)/anyone, blockbuster/long tail, English/multilingual. It would be good to hear what members would like to see us publish and how.

We are also open to suggestions on methods of launching the OAC Press. There are always financial costs in an enterprise like this. I like the 18th century model of subscription, whereby a group of subscribers put the money up front for a publication they believe in. Members could indicate the sort of output they might be willing to subscribe to. There is everything to play for in conceiving of new models of publishing. Of course the core of our activities and products will be based for now on free labour, amateur in the sense that amateurs do it for love, even when they are professionals or students.

It seems to me that we should sign up as many members as we can for an editorial board whose functions can be determined by agreement. Then a smaller committee of editors would assume responsibility for actually running the thing. This too should reflect the extraordinary diversity of our membership.

What matters is to start with a bang, to set the standard people will come to expect from us. This is not going to be a vanity press.
Keith writes: "What matters is ... to set the standard people will come to expect from us. This is not going to be a vanity press."

So there will be a review to pick good submissions and reject weak submissions? Editorial review or peer review? Will there be a specification of criteria?
Britain's ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists) was thinking of launching a similar initiative, inspired by Prickly Pears pamphlets, a couple of years ago but I don't know what happened in the end. Simone Abram at Leeds Met was leading this.
At this stage we are merely soliciting views, not laying out a plan. Procedures will be worked out by the editorial team whenever. One issue is whether to follow the model of a standard academic press or that of a trade publisher backing its in house judgment. We could rely more on reviews by an editorial board drawn from the OAC. The important thing is to get a discussion going first.

Philip Carl SALZMAN said:
Keith writes: "What matters is ... to set the standard people will come to expect from us. This is not going to be a vanity press."

So there will be a review to pick good submissions and reject weak submissions? Editorial review or peer review? Will there be a specification of criteria?
As we said, we hope to build on previous experience as a small anthropology publisher. Of course we can cast our net wide or just work with people we know. As far as I am concerned, this is the first stage in soliciting expressions of interest from within the OAC. It won't be the last. There are always costs that are sometimes hidden in a model of 'free' publishing. Print massively increases the need for cash up front, even if some of the costs are eventually recovered. Fulfilling orders is a bore and free labour is usually volunteered for more exciting jobs. Again, there may be lessons to be learned from just-in-time publishing. (Berghahn Books is one interesting model, there are many others). All these questions remain to be discussed and in time answered. There is no blueprint in my mind at least.

Stacie Gilmore said:
Is it possible to identify anthropologists who have already made strides in this direction and gauge their interest in serving on the editorial board?

What counts as a diverse group? You could also send a broadcast message to the OAC asking for volunteers from a broad variety of geographical backgrounds and experience levels, although technically that's what the forum post is.

What kind of costs are we looking at for something like a free online publication with a paid print subscription option?
Simone now edits ASAOnline to which I contributed the first article. The ASA was founded in the late 40s and takes itself very seriously as a professional association. Publishing is governed by a formal committee structure. My experience with the ASA's blogging initiative was first to be contacted informally by Alberto and then dropped while the issue was processed through an official committee, eventually to be signed up by Nayanike for a short stint. All of these people are members of the OAC and it would be good to ask them what they feel they could do better outside a bureaucratic framework, as well as learning from their positive experience.

John Postill said:
Britain's ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists) was thinking of launching a similar initiative, inspired by Prickly Pears pamphlets, a couple of years ago but I don't know what happened in the end. Simone Abram at Leeds Met was leading this.
Stacie Gilmore said:
"One issue is whether to follow the model of a standard academic press or that of a trade publisher backing its in house judgment."
Could you translate Keith?

Sorry for the shorthand, but I didn't want to take up too much space in the discussion. Well, Philip invoked a model that might see us emulating the standards of an academic press in which all manuscripts are sent out to peer review. A trade publisher tends to be more entrepreneurial with the owner and one or two editors backing their judgment over what they hope will sell. An editorial committee could keep most of its review process in house, perhaps seeking the advice of known colleagues, such as other members of the OAC. When I ran Prickly Pear, I took most publishing decisions by myself, sometimes consulting my partner, Anna Grimshaw. But then I put in most of the cash and work needed too, with the help of a couple of devoted helpers for the computing, printing and distribution. I was aware then that I wasn't making the most of the potential for online publishing.

I can give an example of how a group of mostly young and unestablished people started a publishing operation and made a success of it. It concerns an online multimedia journal of ethnography in French, which is not what we are aiming for here. The journal was launched a few years back by a group of French and Swiss PhD students and postdocs led by a couple of university lecturers. It has always had a democratic organization with active members taking most of the responsibility for commissioning, writing and editing new issues. Some of them meet face to face occasionally or more often have conference calls by phone or Skype. The two original lecturers share the job of editor-in-chief. The EU gave them a three-year grant for cross-border collaboration which financed a half-time webmaster and academic secretary, but now they have to share all tasks equally. A recent French classification of international journals gave them an A, the highest grade. The editors are now taking part in wider intitiatives to bring French journals online and are considered to be further advanced than most established journals.

This summary doesn't capture all the ups and downs nor is it all relevant to us, but the example does show that it is possible to reach a high intellectual level of publishing by unorthodox and cooperative means.
Keith said, "Philip invoked a model that might see us emulating the standards of an academic press in which all manuscripts are sent out to peer review."

I believe that it is clear, if my post is read, that I was not so much "invoking" peer review, as asking whether it, or in-house editing, was being considered. In fact, I do not particularly favour one or the other, or anything else. It did occur to me that peer review is more open and decentralized a process of evaluation than editorial group evaluation, and might be preferred on those grounds by some members of OAC. Of course, peer review is more trouble to organize and the results less easy to control. Editorial group evaluation would probably be more efficient.

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