I would like to propose a new format for the OAC press. As a preliminary title, I would propose to call it the “OAC Bulletin”. Why not calling it a journal?

Because a journal has the shortcoming that it often takes too much time before it gets published. In the usual case, something like five articles are chosen and complemented by reviews and/or announcement. If the editing of one text takes longer than estimated, then the whole process gets delayed. And you all know how long it usually takes after having submitted a paper and its final publication!

With the OAC Bulletin, we could be faster and more timely than the usual anthropological publication organs. And more interesting. For this purpose, I would propose to “take the best from two worlds”. I mean the advantages of print journals like Current Anthropology on the hand, and the advantages of a digital medium on the other.

My idea is the following: Whenever the OAC Bulletin publishes a text, five persons are chosen beforehand as discussants. Thus, when the text is published, these five persons post their comments. And of course, the author is supposed to reply. In contrast to Current Anthropology, however, the discussion process is open for every member of the OAC to join in. More liberty, more transparency, and more speed.

I think it’s high time to reflect on other and better ways of anthropological publications for the 21. century. And I also think that the OAC provides the right infrastructure for going new ways and for connecting many anthropologists form all over the glove. The OAC Bulletin could become the first genuinely global publishing media in the field of anthropology.

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Replies to This Discussion

This is a well-thought out project, Florian. I like it. We should flesh out what it might involve in terms of organization. There's something wrong with the title you have chosen, but then finding names for something new is never easy. I went to the Wiktionary and found a discussion of Bulletin in German, the only one as it turns out. I am not sure that Report is what you are after. Also, as an online medium, it will carry expectations of a bulletin board and maybe we wouldn't want to evoke that style of interaction. The key part of your proposal is discussion of essays one at a time. Would Exchange sound too economic? I especially like your idea of getting a number of formal interlocutors to open up to what could be a general discussion. The first part sounds like a Panel and the second a Forum. I hope you are not disappointed by what may seem a pedantic focus on words. But it helps me at any rate to think about what this proposal means.
Florian, I think we're all on the same page here. In many ways, your idea is precisely that behind the Working Paper series. The only difference that I can see is that we have not chosen our discussants beforehand. Perhaps we should in the future. By the way, we've also started preliminary discussions with John Postill about somehow integrating the seminar series he's organized.
Thanks for your encouragement, Keith and Justin. Actually, I have hoped to stir up a larger debate on timely ways of publishing anthropology within the framework of the AOC, but so far, this larger debate hasn't manifested. Maybe I should have chosen another title for my post - something like "better publishing for a better world", I mean something which catches people's attention. OAC Bulletin probably sounds too boring. I can understand that. Besides, "Bulletin" isn't the right word - I agree with you Keith. "OAC Bulletin" just looked nice to me and helped me to differentiate the outlined project from a journal. Actually, what I have in mind is something like the German "Depesche", which comes as "dispatch" in English, but this sounds odd.

Justin: Sorry for being ignorant about John's seminar series. Didn't take notice of it so far. I agree it would be a good idea to link the publishing more closely to this series.

Still, I would love to hear other voices!!
Florian,

This idea of a controlled space for intellectual agenda-setting combined with coordinated response sounds very helpful. It is a practical approach to the fact that threads are created by small numbers of people, but are read by relatively large numbers of people - threads ideally remain behind and many readers can gather a range of responses quite quickly. But there is no need to 'answer the question' in a thread as such. Speaking personally, I find myself seeing all the forms we use as adaptive/provisional here. For instance the Forum is used to gather debates and tell people what is going on; try to find out what should be done; to tell people about an initiative or even a purely personal happening. The blogs do some of the same things. Sometimes in threads there is a conscious effort to build toward a point of recognition and at other times they consist almost purely of feedback (as Nikos put it). Some relatively fixed forms including a bulletin board, can have a strong indexical role, gathering some of this discursive 'noise' (in a non-pejorative sense) toward a common focus and generating further questions and agendas.



Florian Mühlfried said:
Thanks for your encouragement, Keith and Justin. Actually, I have hoped to stir up a larger debate on timely ways of publishing anthropology within the framework of the AOC, but so far, this larger debate hasn't manifested. Maybe I should have chosen another title for my post - something like "better publishing for a better world", I mean something which catches people's attention. OAC Bulletin probably sounds too boring. I can understand that. Besides, "Bulletin" isn't the right word - I agree with you Keith. "OAC Bulletin" just looked nice to me and helped me to differentiate the outlined project from a journal. Actually, what I have in mind is something like the German "Depesche", which comes as "dispatch" in English, but this sounds odd.

Justin: Sorry for being ignorant about John's seminar series. Didn't take notice of it so far. I agree it would be a good idea to link the publishing more closely to this series.

Still, I would love to hear other voices!!
Thanks a lot for your helpful comments. They made me change my mind. If in the beginning, I favoured keeping the OAC Working Papers and the OAC Bulletin separately, I now agree to concentrate our efforts and to combine the approaches. Here’s my proposal how:

• The Working Papers could be added by the comments of, say: five reviewers chosen beforehand by the editorial board. The Paper as such and the comments are simultaneously published, and other readers of the paper may add their comments in the same thread. I guess that this allows for a pretty quick stirring up of a well-qualified discussion. The author may respond at any time, of course.

• I would favour the publication of a Working Paper every two months. This means, that during half a year, we have published three working papers. At this point, we could do something else, namely

• Edit a journal. I was against it, Keith was against it, but in the end, what is so bad about it??! We could send it around to all OAC members (more than 2.000 now), just like EASA does with their journal Social Anthropology, e.g. And we could do this twice a year, I think.

• The journal could consist out of the following: Three Working Papers plus comments by the reviewers plus reply from the author plus a summary of the discussion, which would have to be written by one of the editors. The summary should contain hyperlinks to the original comments. Thus, we could combine the traditional outlook of a journal with the advantages of the internet.

• This could be one section, and probably the main section of the journal. But we might want to add book reviews or other stuff published at OAC during the previous months.

• When it comes to the editorial board, I personally would favour elections. Not only that this is the most transparent way. What is more, it will bring a lot of publicity to the OAC Press, at least within the OAC community. And this is what it lacks so far.

Again, of course: Any comment welcome!
This is an excellent proposal, Florian. Let's hear what others have to say about it.

Justin and I are in the process of recruiting a team of editors from the OAC membership. Many volunteered on the basis of their participation in previous discussions, some were invited in order to increase the range and balance of the team. Most replies are in and we will be announcing the composition of our team shortly. I don't think an election is a suitable method for forming such a team. We are not running for public office. Once established, the editors will choose an editorial board from the OAC membership. All of them will have a say. The editorial board will consist of individuals whose mere presence would help to define what the OAC Press is about. Duties would not be onerous, but might include occasional reviewing and a say in major policy decisions. The conduct of the OAC Press will be open to inspection. But this process of initial recruitment requires a degree of management, as will the affairs of the Press in future; and Justin and I have taken responsibility for that. It will all become a lot more democratic and transparent when the editorial team and board are in place.

Florian Mühlfried said:
Thanks a lot for your helpful comments. They made me change my mind. • When it comes to the editorial board, I personally would favour elections. Not only that this is the most transparent way. What is more, it will bring a lot of publicity to the OAC Press, at least within the OAC community. And this is what it lacks so far.

Again, of course: Any comment welcome!
I agree that Florian's proposal is strong and clearly workable. Personally I would like an OAC journal to (have the potential to) be multilingual, or at least to encourage contributions in the main languages people use in the OAC including Portuguese, Spanish and Russian, for instance. If the editorial board is to be elected, then the candidates need to reflect this diversitarian possibility.
I know this can look like an obscure way of fixing the active composition of the OAC Press, but one reason why Justin and I have been slow to publish a list of members of the editorial team (not the editorial board which is something else and not yet contemplated) is precisely because this is not a stitch-up by a cabal, but quite a laborious process of approaching and consulting with a wide range of people. So far we have invited speakers of Italian, Portuguese, French, Spanish, German, Turkish, Norwegian and Japanese to join the team of editors and all but one have accepted. This for the reason you mention, that we must be open to multi-lingual publishing or at least translation. We want to make sure that branches like archaeology and physical anthropology are represented, as well as the major regions. Gender balance and a spread of age and professional status are also important. And we need to have a good idea that these people can work together, as measured by their OAC presence, responses and other subtle indicators. I may be stuck in a time warp here, but I don't see how such a process would be facilitated by an election or referendum. Like most things here, the process is slow because it involves extensive consultation rather than management by fiat. But we will be announcing our team very soon, I hope.

Huon Wardle said:
I agree that Florian's proposal is strong and clearly workable. Personally I would like an OAC journal to (have the potential to) be multilingual, or at least to encourage contributions in the main languages people use in the OAC including Portuguese, Spanish and Russian, for instance. If the editorial board is to be elected, then the candidates need to reflect this diversitarian possibility.
The OAC Press is happy to finally announce the editorial team!
Hey Justin,

don't you think it's a little bit inadequate to happily announce the editorial team in a discussion thread that I started, after Keith has vetoed my attempt to join the team?

Florian

Justin Shaffner said:
The OAC Press is happy to finally announce the editorial team!

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