May 27, 2009

Journal of Legal Anthropology

Category: Academic,Open Access — Biella @ 12:42 pm

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is why social science and humanities journals have been slower to move toward the land of open access in comparison to the ‘hard’ sciences. There are a few obvious reasons but there are others which are still a mystery to me.

I understand why existing journals can’t easily pry away from established relations and obligations so I am not all that surprised that these journals, whether in the ‘hard’ sciences or ‘soft’, have not gone open access. But perhaps newly minted journals are in better position to start right off the bat with an OA agreement. This is what the International Journal of Communication recently did and I am sure there are other examples.

So today I was disappointed to find out that the following new Anthropology journal theJournal of Legal Anthropology has seemingly gone down a traditionalist copyright route. But I don’t just want to point fingers here as I know editors are often in a very difficult position when seeking sponsorship and support for a new journal. That is, achieving OA, I understand is no walk in the park. And yet given their mission and given that it is a legal journal, it also makes sense to have some sort of open format:

“International in scope, we hope it will be accessible beyond a specialist legal anthropology area and, in practice, both widen what is understood within the discipline of anthropology as legal and position the legal as also ‘socio-cultural’ in terms of contemporary anthropology. The journal is produced by anthropologists interested in making anthropology accessible (translatable) in other settings and disciplines, and by legal practitioners with support from academics working in human rights, conflict and related areas”

A walled garden is not suited for the flowers of access to grow. But perhaps they tried and failed. If this is the case, it would also be good to learn of these experiences, which can be used in future cases to pave the path toward greater access.

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