No Paper Needed: Anthropology Association Builds New Review System

By building a new digital system intended to cut the time needed for academic reviews of books, the American Anthropological Association hopes to refine digital workflows and save money.

Good news for anthropologists: Your peer-reviewing process is about to enter the 21st century.

This week, the American Anthropological Association announced it is working to launch a new digital process for scholarly book reviews, upgrading what can sometimes be a clunky process with something a little easier to manage. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will fund the endeavor.

“The new platform will reduce editorial turn-around time and expense, increase readership, and introduce dynamic content,” AAA Publishing Director Oona Schmid said in a news release [PDF].

The association’s new platform will be built on an existing open-source platform, the Public Knowledge Project’s Open Journal Systems. It will offer a completely digital workflow for scholars, who will receive digital copies of books and upload reviews to the database system.

In comments on the change, participating university presses noted the long wait times a print-driven editing process had created. University Press of Colorado Director Darrin Pratt called the system a “radically new workflow for scholarly book reviews.”

Schmid, in comments to Inside Higher Ed, also described the move as a a potential cost-saving measure.

“The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is essentially paying for that system to be extended such that it can support a digital-centric process for reviewing books, so that book reviews come out more quickly and in a way that will potentially save scholarly presses and journal editorial offices money,” she said.

In addition to the University Press of Colorado, four other university presses have signed up: the University of Chicago Press, University of Nebraska Press, University of New Mexico Press, and University Press of Florida. AAA will launch a prototype this year.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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