The ASA launched ASAonline, a new online publication series in June 2008. The series specializes in in-depth articles in any field of Social Anthropology which are available online on a free-to-read/download basis. All publications in the series are evaluated by anonymous peer-review.
The ASA committee was concerned that public accessibility to research journals remained limited, even though most of the research reported on was publicly funded. It set up ASAonline as a contribution towards open-source refereed publications in Social Anthropology. At the same time, the ASA committee recognized the increasing centrality of digital media and new communicative technologies. ASAonline seeks to include these in mainstream anthropological publication, complementing the ASA's monograph series.
In 2012, the UK government announced a move towards open-access publication. Research Councils UK announced an Open Access policy, requiring that peer-reviewed papers from funded research be published in journals that comply with their Open Access policy. The Higher Education Funding Councils simultaneously announced a corresponding policy, with the Higher Education Funding Council for England stating that 'research outputs submitted to any future Research Excellence Framework (REF) should be as widely accessible as possible at the time' (see press release).
The ASA recognizes that increasing attention to citation index scores and other supposed 'measures' of research excellence may have an increasing bearing not simply on formal Research Evaluation exercises, but on individuals' promotion prospects in the years ahead. Added to the increasing emphasis on open access publishing, we expect ASAonline to achieve a high international profile through its association with the ASA and rigorous peer reviewing by respected experts in relevant fields. The mode of distribution will permit a much larger readership than specialist academic journals, and this will also help to establish publishing in ASAonline as a mark of distinction, and as a publishing enterprise with a public outreach function in which powerful ideas and good writing will be necessary to secure a broad readership.
ASAonline includes the publication of the prestigious Firth Lecture series, given at ASA annual conferences.
Simone Abram, founding editor
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Download and print a high-res version of the ASAonline publicity poster (PDF),