As the SCA moves forward with its exciting initiative to make Cultural Anthropology an open access journal, we are preparing for the consequences of this move. These are twofold. First, and most obviously, there will be a drop in royalty income, and thereby in the ability to pay for copyeditors, editorial assistants, and so on in the reviewing and preparation of manuscripts. Second, and most immediately pressing, Cultural Anthropology has seen over a 30% growth in manuscript submissions in the last three years. This is proving an intolerable burden for editors who review all manuscripts before sending them out to referees, and as we turn to open access we expect this number of submissions to rise significantly.
To respond to these challenges the SCA board has voted to require that, as of July 15, all authors submitting essays to be considered for publication in Cultural Anthropology must be members of the SCA. The aim of this is to generate revenue for the journal from membership as we lose revenue associated with article downloads through Wiley-Blackwell. And most importantly, we hope it will focus submissions around authors who share the vision and intellectual project of the journal, and slow the rate of submissions to a manageable level. Authors who are not members of the AAA may pay a submission fee of $21.00 in lieu of the costs of joining both the AAA and SCA.*
We do not take this decision lightly, but we recognize that the costs associated with producing an open access journal, and maintaining the exceptional website that will host it, need to be managed. We also recognize the important labor question involved as the journal is run largely through the efforts of our outstanding editors, who contribute their efforts to the service of the discipline without sufficient compensation. Past and future editors receive no real compensation from the AAA, or SCA, and universities are increasingly reluctant to provide course releases, or material assistance to support journals. This means the labor of editing is in addition to teaching and research responsibilities. As Cultural Anthropology prepares to transition to a new editorial team, the SCA wishes to establish a system that does not make overbearing demands upon future editors.
The SCA sees requiring membership as a better way of addressing open access than charging exorbitant publication fees to our authors, and we offer reasonable dues, especially for student members. We are excited by the interest in the SCA that the prospect of open access has generated, and look forward to working with our new members to develop the kinds of programs, publications, and platforms that has put the SCA at the forefront of ethnographic accounting and anthropological theory today.
*Added July 8, 2013 following SCA Board approval.