Here is yet another interesting development in the world of Anthropology as it relates to the FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act). As many will remember, the American Anthropological Association came out in public opposition to FRPAA. In part, the AAA based its opposition to FRPPA because of a perceived threat to the financial sustainability of AnthroSource, its digital dissemination system (see their FAQ). As reported in the “Savage Minds” blog, the AnthroSource Steering Committee was not consulted on this decision.

Now, in an interesting turn of events, the AnthroSource Steering Committee itself has made a public statement strongly and unambiguously in favor of FRPAA. Many of the reasons they cite to support FRPPA mirror discussions shared by Peter Suber, Stevan Harnad and many others (also echoed in this blog here and here). Their endorsement of FRPAA is in direct contradiction to the public position of the executive staff of the AAA. In fact, the AnthroSource Steering Committee is urging the AAA to now reconsider its opposition.

Wow! This is indeed a major development for open access in anthropology and related fields. It also shows how the executive staff of learned societies is often at odds with its membership over these issues. I think it is very significant that a major digital dissemination initiative that works on behalf of a learned society has now issued a strong public statement in favor of FRPPA ’s open access mandates. The AnthroSource Steering Committee is obviously very well placed to understand these issues. They understand publication business models, sustainability issues, etc. They also understand how openness can be a great tool to further the interests of anthroplogy and anthropologists. The endorsement of this expert and experienced body is therefore an important development that highlights the value of this legislation.

Kudos to the AnthroSource Steering Committee for their clear and powerful stand on this important issue!