Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Below is the text of a news item in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscriber only access) announcing Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences adoption of a policy to make their articles open access:

Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a policy this evening that requires faculty members to allow the university to make their scholarly articles available free online.

Peter Suber, an open-access activist with Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group in Washington, said on his blog that the new policy makes Harvard the first university in the United States to mandate open access to its faculty members’ research publications.

Stuart M. Shieber, a professor of computer science at Harvard who proposed the new policy, said after the vote in a news release that the decision “should be a very powerful message to the academic community that we want and should have more control over how our work is used and disseminated.”

The new policy will allow faculty members to request a waiver, but otherwise they must provide an electronic form of each article to the provost’s office, which will place it in an online repository.

The policy will allow Harvard authors to publish in any journal that permits posting online after publication. According to Mr. Suber, about two-thirds of pay-access journals allow such posting in online repositories. —Lila Guterman

I think that this Harvard vote implies a number of questions. I’m not sure that very well formulated policies have been thought out yet. Though it seems to be a very strong move in the right direction, I wonder what the practical outcome will be in a year’s time. Here’s another overview of the approved proposal:

Stevan Harnad is not totally enchanted with the Harvard move, believing that it is the wrong strategy:

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