Academic Publishing Conversation at the AAA in Toronto (2023): “The AAA Publishing Program at a Crossroads”

The AAA Publishing Program at a Crossroads: Where are We Now, and Where do We Want to Go?

Saturday, November 18, 2023, 10:00-11:30am; Toronto Metro Convention Center (602A)
Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, Timothy Elfenbein, Julia Elyachar, Eleana Kim, Marcel LaFlamme, Anand Pandian, and Danilyn Rutherford

The first year of the new contract between the AAA and the commercial publisher Wiley has generated important questions about the current state and future directions of the association’s publishing program. This event, co-hosted by ABA, APLA, SAW, and SCA, aims to lay the ground for conversation and common cause among section leaders, journal editors, and members at large as we seek to understand what alternatives exist to the present arrangement, with which many AAA members are dissatisfied for a diverse set of reasons. AAA’s five-year contract with Wiley will expire in 2027, and the AAA leadership will begin the process of selecting the next publishing partner starting in 2025. Before that time comes, we think it is crucial for more members of the AAA to be informed and in active conversation about the ethical, political, and intellectual goals of the association and how those can be reflected in its publishing program.

This event will provide information about two journals in the AAA portfolio that are publishing under alternative arrangements outside of the Wiley partnership, and explore what lessons, models, and cautionary tales they provide for thinking about potential futures for the portfolio as a whole.
Earlier this year, ABA announced that, with assistance from the Wenner Gren Foundation, the section will move its journal, Transforming Anthropology, from Wiley to the University of Chicago Press, starting in 2024. Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús (Editor-in-Chief, Transforming Anthropology) and Danilyn Rutherford (President, Wenner-Gren Foundation) will speak about this decision and the process entailed in moving the journal, as well as its implications for the journal and the section.

Since 2014, SCA has been publishing Cultural Anthropology as a diamond open access journal, and last year it completed a successful pledge drive with the Open Access (OA) Community Investment Program through LYRASIS, a not-for-profit network of libraries that supports open access in scholarly publishing. Eleana Kim (President, SCA), and Anand Pandian (President-elect, SCA) will speak about how the journal has fulfilled its commitment to OA, how the SCA has maintained the OA status of the journal amid changes to the AAA publishing program, and what they anticipate for the future. Julia Elyachar (Cultural Anthropology editorial collective) will speak about the process of editing CA as an open access journal.

Timothy Elfenbein (Principal, Forthcoming LLC)​​ will open the session by providing orientation on the publishing landscape and frames for comparing journals, funding models, and labor and infrastructure arrangements. Marcel LaFlamme (Publishing Futures Committee) will conclude by speaking about two possible paths forward for the portfolio: the formation of “umbrella titles” and the embrace of nonmarket publishing partners like library publishers, as part of a shift toward a more distributed, publisher-agnostic AnthroSource.

We hope that this event will help answer people’s questions about these alternatives and mark the first installment of a wider conversation about the future of anthropological journal publishing for the AAA and beyond.