Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Harvard Mandates Open Access to Academic Work


I think this is good news — in part:

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. . . .

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.

Given that this is academic work, often made possible by university salaries and research budgets, I do think it’s legitimate for schools to place some restrictions on it. (My sneaky second reason for liking this is that, as a journalist, I sometimes find it difficult to get a hold of academic articles.)

But I hope they’ll be fairly liberal with the waivers, considering some journals apparently require the author to relinquish the right to online publication. It would be quite unfair to shut the door on a third of pay-access journals, though such a move might force those journals to open up.


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