Editorial, Volume 74

08th June 2012

We would like to welcome everyone to the first edition of Australian Archaeology produced by the new editors and Editorial Committee. Long before the editorial office moved from Brisbane to Adelaide, we realised we had some very big shoes to fill. Sean Ulm and Annie Ross, the previous editors, have been extraordinary. Since taking over the journal in mid-2005, they have worked hard to raise the quality and appearance of AA, as well as to promote archaeology to a wider audience – practices we aim to continue.

In recent years AAA has made substantial strides in addressing the issue of low membership rates, and improving our discipline’s public profile through such initiatives as National Archaeology Week, an improved new website, and the development of a Facebook site. While it is early days, the AAA Facebook page currently has 815 followers, and, although two-thirds of these are Australian, interestingly many of them are not AAA members – meaning we are indeed reaching a different audience than through our journal. Of the nearly 300 international Facebook followers, they are predominantly based in Italy, the UK, the USA, Spain and Greece, further demonstrating that we’re slowly reaching out to the wider community.

We’re pleased to advise that under the erstwhile leadership of Sean and Annie, AA was ranked in the 1st quartile of the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR indicator), with an SJR impact value of 0.065. SJR is a measure of the scientific influence of a scholarly journal that accounts for both the number of citations received by articles in it, as well as the ‘prestige’ of the journals the citations come from. This puts AA in front of prestigious international journals such as Antiquity, World Archaeology and Geoarchaeology. This is an excellent achievement and testimony to Sean and Annie’s hard work in raising the standard of our journal for the entire profession.

Sean and Annie also put in place a structure for returning royalties to the journal through the Copyright Agency Limited, providing a much-needed income stream to support new journal initiatives. The Author Agreement Form signed by authors for all published papers allows royalties deriving from these works to be assigned to the journal, while individual authors retain copyright of their works; the royalties are then reinvested back into the journal for benefit of the membership.

The printing of the journal in full colour is now a permanent feature of AA; thank you to all the sponsors, members and authors who have made this possible. The enhanced ‘attractiveness’ this affords the journal is, we’re sure, a contributing factor in the record high membership numbers in recent years (just shy of 1000 in December 2011 – see the Membership Secretaries’ Report in the 2011 AGM Minutes published in the Backfill section of this volume). It also has the added benefit of encouraging authors to submit their manuscripts here, particularly those with a strong visual component.

When they took over editing responsibilities, Sean and Annie noted that:

AA is at a crossroads. Many similar association journals are now managed by major publishing houses to ease editorial and production workloads and to promote broad distribution. Budgets are tighter than ever before, exacerbated by low membership rates. At the same time, there is an urgent need to increase the public profile of archaeology in Australia to aid in the protection of cultural heritage. (AA62:ii)

As the new AA editors we will continue to build on the journal’s – and indeed the Association’s – strengths: providing a venue for the best, leading edge research covering the broad ambit of archaeology as it is practiced in Australia today; ensuring that AA becomes more highly visible and more easily accessible; and taking its results to the broader public.

In addition, there are various goals we would like to pursue. We would like to investigate the potential for an online manuscript submission platform for the journal, as well as a mechanism for making current journal content available digitally. Improvements in the digital accessibility of AA will enhance how our members and wider readers access the journal. It will also lessen the volunteer contribution on which the production of AA is still so reliant.

With the change in editorship comes a new Editorial Committee and Editorial Advisory Board (EAB). Alice Gorman (Flinders University) and Jane Lydon (Monash University) take over as Book Review Editors, Sean Winter (The University of Western Australia) is the new Short Reports Editor, and Tiina Manne (The University of Queensland) has become the new Thesis Abstracts Editor. We would like to thank all members of the previous Editorial Committee for their contribution: Jon Prangnell and Jill Reid (Book Reviews), Lara Lamb and Catherine Westcott (Short Reports), and Steve Nichols (Thesis Abstracts). Their hard work has been essential to the journal’s success. The inestimable Linda Terry, long term editorial assistant, has also taken her leave; the efficient AA machine we inherited is in large part due to her dedication and superior organisational abilities.

As part of a rigorous refereeing process implemented by Sean and Annie in 2007, every paper submitted to AA is not only reviewed by two external referees, but also by a member of the EAB, as well as the editors. As you might imagine, this entails a substantial workload for EAB members, whose advice and guidance is also often sought by the editors on relevant policy matters and publishing issues. Coinciding with the change of editorship, and on the advice of our predecessors, we have made some changes to the EAB to allow those who have diligently served above and beyond their two year term the opportunity to relax. To this end, we graciously thank Martin Gibbs, Lynette Russell, Meg Conkey, Chris Gosden, Andy Fairbairn, Simon Holdaway and Luke Godwin for their dedicated service to AA over recent years, and trust their newly created spare time is being filled with some well-earned R&R. We’d also like to welcome Alistair Pike (University of Bristol), Huw Barton (University of Leicester), Oliver Brown (Oliver Brown Archaeology Consulting), Joe Flatman (University College London), Sven Ouzman (Iziko South African Museum), Nancy Tayles (University of Otago) and Michael Williams as new members to the EAB. We are sure their perspectives on Australian archaeology, its place in international debates, and the future directions of the journal, will be both enlightening and exciting.

Many things, of course, will remain unchanged at AA; after all, why change a winning formula? In their first issue as editors, Sean and Annie articulated one of their main goals as being ‘to continue to provide readers with rich and diverse content … we therefore welcome quality contributions on all flavours of archaeology’ (AA63:ii). Given the size of the current AAA membership, this goal is perhaps even more pertinent today to ensure that members not only encounter content of interest to them, but continue to look to AA as their journal of choice for the submission of high quality manuscripts, regardless of the area of archaeology in which they work. The content of AA74 is no exception.

Volume 74 tackles some fundamental questions in contemporary archaeology, and combines this with new perspectives on old ideas. It begins with a provocative forum article by Jim O’Connell and Jim Allen that sets up a testable model for the colonisation of Australia. The vigorous discussion this is sure to prompt is foreshadowed by the invited comments from national and international guests, each of whom approaches O’Connell and Allen’s paper from a different, thought provoking angle. The final response by O’Connell and Allen situates their research within a wider dialogue between practitioners and returns to some of the core concerns of archaeological model building.

Both the papers and the short reports in this issue epitomise the eclectic nature of contemporary Australian archaeology. The papers begin with one by Adam Brumm and Mark Moore, who revisit the concept of the Movius Line and ask whether we can continue to use such a concept to categorise Palaeolithic stone artefact assemblages. The pair of complementary papers that follow focus on a past concern that continues to have critical contemporary relevance: the centrality of water management technology to success in a dry continent. Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies’ paper on landscapes of water management in the gold mining areas of colonial Victoria adopts the perspective that technological solutions are part of a wider process of social learning about the environment. Luke Godwin and Scott L’Oste Brown investigate how the use of infrastructure to manage surface, rather than ground, water on a nineteenth century pastoral station in central western Queensland enabled vast improvements in stocking rates and subsequent massive profits for the pastoral industry. Kelsey Lowe provides a much-needed overview of methods of geophysical prospection and their use and history in Australian archaeology, as well as questioning why these methods have not become as central to the practice of archaeology here as they have elsewhere. Alan Williams, Peter Mitchell, Richard Wright and Phillip Toms synthesise the complexity of a river levee on the banks of the Hawkesbury River and what this tells us about occupation and resource exploitation in the Nepean River system. The Short Reports in this volume highlight the first engraved archaic face motif from the Woodstock Abydos Protected Reserve in the inland Pilbara, WA, the careful burial of a canine on the Arnhem Land Plateau, and the oldest known date yet to be obtained in South Australia.

Beyond the journal, more generally, Australian archaeologists have built a successful research profile over the past six months. In early November 2011 the Australian Research Council announced the successful recipients of Discovery, Linkage, LIEF, DECRA and Future Fellowships grants to commence in 2012. Five grants worth just under $1.5 million were awarded to international archaeology projects, with a further five grants worth nearly $1.7 million awarded for Australian archaeological projects. An additional project comparing Australian and French archaeological records was awarded $232,500. A little under $1 million was awarded for three Australian palaeoenvironmental projects of archaeological relevance. Congratulations to all of those who were successful, including Dr Ambra Calo, who was awarded a DECRA in the field of archaeology, and Drs Robyn Pickering and Gilbert Price who were awarded DECRAs in areas of palaeoenvironmental research of relevance to Australian and international archaeology. We also extend our congratulations to those elected as Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2011 (see Backfill Section of this issue for details).

For assistance in bringing AA74 to fruition, we would like to thank Sean and Annie, and their hardworking Editorial Committee, for leaving the journal in such a well organised state, with such a large number of manuscripts already well along the publishing pathway. Our contributors, referees, Editorial Committee, Editorial Advisory Board, graphic designers, Lovehate Design and printer, Hyde Park Press, have all been extremely supportive during the transition and we gratefully acknowledge their contributions.

A final, but by no means lesser, thank you to all of those whom we’ve approached to referee papers for us – we know the authors appreciate the rapidity with which we’ve been able to provide advice to them, something that can only be achieved through the hard work and conscientiousness of our referees.

Finally, the vision and dedication of our predecessors were formally recognised by the Association at the 2011 AAA Conference Dinner in Toowoomba, when Val Attenbrow (as Chairperson of the AAA Awards & Prizes Subcommittee) and Lynley Wallis (as former President of AAA) announced a newly created Prize to acknowledge their efforts. Known as the ‘Ulm-Ross Prize for the Best Paper in Australian Archaeology’, it will be awarded to the author(s) of what is judged to be the ‘best’ paper by an external, independent panel. We have sought advice about establishing guidelines for the prize from Martin Carver, current Editor of Antiquity (which offers a similar type of prize). Further details about the prize will be forthcoming in a future editorial. The inaugural prize will be selected from papers published in AA volumes 71 through 74 inclusive, and the winner(s) will be announced at the 2012 AAA Conference to be held in Wollongong from 10-13 December – we hope to see you all there!

Heather Burke and Lynley Wallis

Heather Burke & Lynley Wallis
Editorial, Volume 74
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