Recommendations on Ethics, Sustainability, and Open Access in Archaeology

In the article On Ethics, Sustainability, and Open Access in Archaeology available in the September 2013 issue of the SAA Archaeological Record, co-authors Eric Kansa, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, and Lynne Goldstein provide recommendations to the SAA for improving access to research results in archaeology.

The authors welcome comments on the following five recommendations:

  • Gain experience with Open Access.
    The SAA needs to better understand the opportunities and costs associated with Open Access. It needs to experiment and learn exactly how to run a sustainable peer-reviewed Open Access publishing service. This experience will give the SAA the needed understanding to better articulate policy recommendations to our financial backers. The SAA need not do this alone. It can partner with other societies, university library groups developing scholarly communications infrastructure, or other commercial or nonprofit Open Access publishers.
  • Refrain from lobbying against or weakening Open Access.
    Both the AAA and the AIA joined with monopolistic publishers like Elsevier in lobbying against Open Access (Kansa 2012). These actions debase these scholarly societies and put them into the camp of commercial giants that promote oppressive intellectual property laws that further commoditize knowledge; harm research, teaching, and free-expression; and endanger their own memberships.
  • Seek legal protections for researchers, students, and the public
    The SAA also can make a public statement calling for a more equitable and just balance in computer-security and copyright law and in the interpretation of such laws with regard to scholarly works. Legal frameworks governing publication need to better reflect our values and protect researchers, instructors, students, and other members of the public in accessing and using published research.
  • Encourage quality and prestige in Open Access archaeology.
    Even if the SAA does not launch its own Open Access titles, the SAA leadership should encourage greater professionalism and professional recognition for Open Access. The SAA should encourage senior scholars to join editorial boards of Open Access journals and should provide peer-review and other services to Open Access titles to increase their prestige, acceptance, and quality.
  • Publicly endorse Open Access as a goal to work toward.
    The SAA can issue a public statement that Open Access represents a goal for the organization, even if it is currently not financially feasible. The SAA needs to investigate funding and organizational requirements to sustain quality Open Access publishing and make it a goal to build the public support and financial resources needed to adopt publication models that better promote the common good of public knowledge. In other words, if we cannot finance Open Access with currently available funding, the SAA needs to make sustainable Open Access to peer-reviewed publications the goal of future fundraising and public policy campaigns.

Kansa, Eric. 2012. Openness and Archaeology’s Information Ecosystem. World Archaeology 44(4):498–520. DOI: (Open Access preprint: