Practicing Anthropology is in the midst of considering a switch from an editor reviewed publication to a peer reviewed journal.
We would like to explore this idea to 1) engage people in publishing by teaching how to review and submit publications so the process can be more community-engaged and less mystifying for nonacademic anthropologists and our partners. We think this could help us to make publishing reflect practice. And 2) we want to think about how to support our academically-situated counterparts who practice anthropology in ways that translate more directly to our focus on practice than other types of journals, and also need to have articles in peer-reviewed journals for job security, tenure, and promotion.
I am going to leave this story here to help to explain why community members might want to publish work in a peer-reviewed journal. Over the past few years I have worked extensively in community-engaged projects throughout the region where I live. I believe strongly in building capacity with project partners so that work results in increased skills, job opportunities, new connections, better access to resources, and other benefits that no longer have anything to do with a project. Ideally, community partners can work together to obtain their own projects and grants instead of serving as partners on university grants. Ideally, communities have capacity to make policy recommendations and enact change without outside leaders. usually communities have been operating for many years with no resources before grants appear. Recently I learned that a local organization run by Indigenous organizers and health care providers obtained a grant for creative expression and community among Indigenous young people. This group used information from a community report, and data from a project they ran with consultation from researchers to develop and write the grant to the Centers for Disease Control. Working with researchers helped members of the group to know how to collect and analyze data, develop a proposal, and write an implementation project. Participating in publication and publishing moves them closer to funding what they have invested their time and resources in, rather than depending on external partners as anchor organizations. I believe anthropologists have much to learn by listening to what this group developed and lessons this group learned in their work. The group has something to gain from publishing results as well when it helps them to obtain another grant or communicate their results more broadly. Publication has included gatekeepers as reviewers in some cases. Making peer-review an engaged process though adds to the capacity of partners who might want to publish their work by providing training on how to review and submit articles, and adds depth and breadth to the work we publish in the journal as partners collaborate in shaping our field. The idea of switching the journal to peer-review is not to increase gate keeping, it is, in fact, the opposite idea designed to open publishing to a process in important ways.
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