About the Journal
Penn State's Occasional Papers in Anthropology series was established in 1965 with an enduringly valuable research report by William Sanders (below, in the 1960s Teotihuacan Valley), Cultural Ecology of the Teotihuacan Valley, or, as we now know it, http://journals.psu.edu/opa/article/view/59754/59501. This work and others originally published in print for the series are now available on an internet journal platform, https://journals.psu.edu/opa/index, recently developed by Penn State University Libraries. Our university shares in the global effort to publish cultural resources as freely as is possible. President Barack Obama in 2012 prioritized timely open access to research results funded by the United States government, and scholars are responding enthusiastically, quickly seeing the great advantages of a shared digital data bank. Web sites for distribution of research reports have been established by publishers, research institutions, and academic departments, and present a practical way to distribute research results and curate databases, at least as long as the institutional host (here, Penn State University) exists.
And cultural trends follow – and prompt -- this kind of sharing. Increasingly, the net has become a primary resource for research. Free internet access to many scholarly articles and books is commonly available through academic servers, for use by all members of the academic community, including undergraduates, who, as native-speakers-of-digital are devoted to their tablet-based knowledge systems. This increasing dependence on the tablet and web has serious disadvantages if misused, but the advantages for scholars are terrific, not just for publication but also for increased clarity in presenting their work. In an online open access publication, the scholar may include as many publication-quality images as are appropriate and shareable, including those available for common use on various websites. Generous illustration greatly enriches our understanding of the analyses and interpretations of any data set, and this potential will be increasingly realized in publications of this Occasional Papers series.