01 February 2012

AIA Comes out in Favor of the Research Works Act

In the middle of the holiday break, our own AIA, the Archaeological Institute of America, submitted to the  Office of Science and Technology Policy of the US government their statement on the recently proposed Research Works Act, which is in essence an attack on the growing Open Access movement. (Follow the link to Thomas.gov and check out the Wikipedia entry too.)

Leaving aside the apparent absence of this document from the AIA's own website (site search engines can be remarkably crappy when it comes to this kind of thing), why didn't they think this would be worth letting me, a member in good standing, know about? Especially now that the AAA's response—to which the AIA explicitly refers in their document—has raised a ruckus in that group!

But more importantly, where's the membership on this? Are we in favor of this stance? I'm certainly not. Anyone else?

Many of us in the profession are advocates for Open Access (a term which the AIA doesn't even seem to understand, to judge from their response), and I suspect would have a thing or two to say about the stance of our professional organization. Others have made the case already, so I won't re-argue it here, but I encourage you to read some of them (by, e.g., Kristina Kilgrove or Derek Lowe).

What's most galling though, is that this statement was made by the AIA literally days before our  annual meeting, when it would have been a trivial matter to bring up the subject in official venues and get some important feedback. I wasn't there (off in Rome with students), but I haven't had any official word of anything. And given the decades-long prominence of some of our members in what's now known as the Digital Humanities, this is profoundly disappointing.

I certainly hope that others in the AIA feel the same way about this, and I'm fixing to find out who they are!

Correction: After some discussion with a few others, including Sebastian Heath, I have to correct myself. This AIA's letter was not in response the RWA per se, but, as I wrote, to the RFI from the OSTP. The issues are the same, in that the RWA addresses the question of mandating Open Access to publications dealing with federally funded research which is what the AIA statement dealt with (along with some other things I disagree with). I'll deal with this more in another post, but I wanted to get a correction in right away and apologize for the error.

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