AA Policy

Fri, 4 Nov 1994 17:39:30 -0600

I'm glad that Richard Wilk has opened this topic again, now that Hugh has
acknowledged that banning such discussion on the list is a poor idea.

My biggest disappointment with the last issue of American Anthropologist
was the fact that EVERY major contribution was an invited--rather than
submitted--paper. The journal exists as peer-reviewed, refereed publication
and the dues that we pay ($120 for a regular membership, as I recall) are
not intended to subsidize a vanity press. "Peer-review" means something
very specific to merit review committees, department chairs, and deans,
and for those of us in academia peer-reviewed publications translate almost
directly into salary increases, promotions, and grants. I doubt that the
contributors to the last AA will make it clear on their vitae that their
articles were not "peer-reviewed" contributions to a major journal but
invited submissions.

A policy at AA that abandons peer-review will surely sink what should be
the flagship journal of our discipline. Any "peer-review" that is not in
fact blind and anonymous is subject to all kinds of abuses. Imagine NSF
or NEH adopting the same policy for proposal submissions... It is my
opinion that the editors of AA are obliged to the AAA membership to insure
that qualified MSS. submitted to the journal are reviewed ANONYMOUSLY and
FAIRLY by qualified reviewers, and that what appears in the journal are
those submissions that are judged BY THE REVIEWERS to represent excellent
work in anthropology.

The charge of the editors should be to oversee, not subvert, this process
in line with their vision for American Anthropologist.

I have been a member of the AAA for over twelve years now. However,
membership is expensive, and I will drop it like a hot potato (and encourage
others to do likewise) if I feel that my hard-earned support is being

John W. Hoopes
Associate Professor
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045