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Openness and archaeology's information ecosystem

Abstract

The rise of the World Wide Web represents one of the most significant transitions in communications since the printing press or even since the origins of writing. To Open Access and Open Data advocates, the web offers great opportunity for expanding the accessibility, scale, diversity and quality of archaeological communications. Nevertheless, Open Access and Open Data face steep adoption barriers. Critics wrongly see Open Access as a threat to peer review. Others see data transparency as naively technocratic and lacking in an appreciation of archaeology's social and professional incentive structure. However, as argued in this paper, the Open Access and Open Data movements do not gloss over sustainability, quality and professional incentive concerns. Rather, these reform movements offer much needed and trenchant critiques of the academy's many dysfunctions. These dysfunctions, ranging from the expectations of tenure and review committees to the structure of the academic publishing industry, go largely unknown and unremarked by most archaeologists. At a time of cutting fiscal austerity, Open Access and Open Data offer desperately needed ways to expand research opportunities, reduce costs and expand the equity and effectiveness of archaeological communication.

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