I got an email this morning advertising a new journal. Bentham Scientific Publishers has just launched "The Open Anthropology Journal," an Open Access journal for anthropology. This is part of a series of over 200 new scientific OA journals being launched by Bentham. This seems to be brand-new; I can't find any articles yet.
On the positive side, it is very nice to see a now OA journal for anthropology. Existing OA journals in anthropology and archaeology tend to be very specialized with narrow content. The editorial board is quite large and consists of many scholars from around the world; this is not just a US or European journal. It also nice to see a scientific publisher taking anthropology seriously.
On the negative side, OAJ is taking the author-pays approach to finances. It will cost an author $800 to publish an article; slightly less for book reviews or shorter pieces. Unlike the hard sciences, funders of research in anthropology do not normally provide money for such publication fees, and it is unlikely that universities will step up to provide such funding. Also, I wonder whether another general anthropology journal is what is needed right now. We have many very good journals in this area.
It will be interesting to see what happens. Assuming that OAJ can attract high-quality articles, what will be the trade-off between (1) author-pay OA and (2) wider access to submissions but delay and limited internet distribution (traditional journals)? Regardless of whether OAJ is a success, it may help nudge traditional institutions in anthropology (e.g., the American Anthropological Association, or the Society for American Archaeology) toward Open Access.
More and more I am coming to agree with Steven Harnad that self-archiving ("green OA") is a more workable approach to Open Access in the short run than are OA journals ("gold OA"). See my earlier post on self archiving. There is now an institutional repository for anthropology at the University of Hawai'i, the Mana'o Project. Because I can't seem to get much progress toward establishment of repositories on my campus or within the SAA, I am considering going with the Mana'o Project for my papers (but their web site is down right now. hmmmm.......)