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Eric Bartheld
IU Bloomington Libraries

Jason Baird Jackson
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Last modified: Thursday, February 21, 2008

IU Bloomington Libraries publish their first electronic journal, showcasing faculty partnerships

Feb. 21, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Through a partnership that marks a turning point in scholarly publishing at Indiana University, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries Patricia Steele announced today (Feb. 21) the publication of Museum Anthropology Review, the first faculty-generated electronic journal supported by the IU Bloomington Libraries.

Jason Jackson

Jason Jackson

Edited by Jason Baird Jackson, associate professor in IU's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Museum Anthropology Review showcases a new model for Bloomington faculty to disseminate their scholarly work.

With this pilot test, the IU Bloomington libraries are poised to support the electronic publication of journals, offering faculty editors a low-cost solution to the administrative and publishing functions of managing them. This expands the scope of IUScholarWorks, a set of services to make the work of IU scholars freely available, maximizing exposure and visibility of publications by making articles accessible to search services such as Google Scholar.

"Libraries nationwide are interested in supporting faculty who can realize the benefits of publishing open-access journals," Steele said. "At IU, we're especially pleased to help advance one of the university's top disciplines. And by partnering locally, we're disseminating scholarship that will help researchers worldwide."

Steele said that universities, and particularly libraries, have been squeezed in recent years by a system in which the cost of acquiring journals from commercial publishers has grown increasingly more expensive.

Patricia Steele

Patricia Steele

Print-Quality Photo

Double-digit price increases forced upon library subscribers over the past decade have allowed commercial publishers to steadily grow their profits at the expense of university budgets. The library community contends that one approach to control runaway costs is to minimize the dependence on subscription-based models by publishing and promoting the use of freely available, or open access, journals.

Jackson founded Museum Anthropology Review on the basis of his experiences as editor of an established closed-access journal in his field -- the similarly titled and focused Museum Anthropology. Unlike Museum Anthropology Review, this more established journal is published by the American Anthropological Association in a partnership with the for-profit publisher Wiley-Blackwell.

"The costs associated with publishing in the traditional mode are astronomical," Jackson said. "Publication of a single research article in Museum Anthropology can cost thousands of dollars and, when published, the results will then be available to a small proportion of people worldwide."

Jackson said that making scholarly work more easily and affordably accessible is especially important in fields like folklore and anthropology that are rooted in the study of local cultures worldwide.

"If, for instance, a scholar spends months documenting the work of an elderly woodcarver living in a small American town and then writes about what she learned in a peer-reviewed research article, I have an obligation as her editor to make it as easy as possible for the schoolchildren of that town -- or the artist's grandchildren -- to gain access to her writing. Open access repositories and journals, in their varied forms, help make this possible."

Museum Anthropology Review

This photo of the headquarters of the Longaberger Company near Newark, Ohio, was Museum Anthropology Review's banner image during its founding year, before being part of the IUScholarWorks project. Editor Jason Jackson said the photo and its many paradoxical resonances evoke some of the complexities being examined today by scholars in museum and material culture studies.

Begun in February 2007 as a pilot project using weblog software, Museum Anthropology Review published 64 contributions from scholars worldwide. The works were consulted more than 20,000 times, Jackson said, and for many of the books that were reviewed in the journal, the assessments published in Museum Anthropology Review are the most highly ranked pages in standard Web searches.

"Everyone involved with the effort has been thrilled with the results," Jackson said, "and I am happy to be continuing the project in a more durable and robust way through our partnership with the IUB Libraries."

IUScholarWorks is a set of services supported by the IU Libraries and the Digital Library Program, a collaborative effort of the IU Libraries and University Information Technology Services. For more information, go to