Harvard Open Access Policy

The Harvard Open-Access Policies

The goal of university research is the creation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge. We collectively take this to be a good. It is an essential part of our duties as faculty members to distribute the fruits of our scholarship as widely as possible.

A committee established by Provost Steven Hyman has proposed a set of measures that Harvard can undertake to promote open access and move toward a more sustainable publishing system that is at the same time more in keeping with the goals of the University. One of these measures is for faculty to grant the University permission to make scholarly articles openly available. On February 12, 2008, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences approved the first such policy, with several other schools following.

The policy works by setting up an automatic license to Harvard for scholarly articles authored by faculty members. This license is nonexclusive and enables open-access distribution, so long as the articles are not sold for a profit. Copyright remains with the author (until such time as the author may assign all or part to another entity). Harvard will use this license to enable it to distribute articles in an open-access repository whose contents will be searchable and available to other services such as web harvesters, Google Scholar, and the like. Contents of the repository will be maintained, archived, and preserved.

The license is transferable, so that the University can allow authors legally to distribute the articles on their own web sites if desired, and can allow educators here and elsewhere to provide the articles to students, for example, in course packs (not sold for a profit).

The policy is intended to serve the faculty’s interests by allowing articles to receive open distribution, simplifying authors’ retention of distribution rights, aiding preservation, and providing unified action to discourage publishers from rejecting articles because they will be available in open access. However, there may be individual cases in which the license works against the interest of a faculty member. In keeping with the spirit of the effort, the policy allows for waiver of the license or delay of distribution in such circumstances.

Additional resources are available at the links to the left, including text of the policies, further explanatory material, information about procedures, and a list of other resources.

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12 years ago

About time. We at Southampton kicked this off a while ago, but it’s taking off all over the place now, and being helped along by things like this:

In 2004 the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology (as urged by evidence provided by the University of Southampton and Loughborough University) recommended that all UK higher education institutions establish institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online [and] that Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way. Research Councils UK went on to make a clean sweep, with all seven councils mandating Open Access in 2006-8.


12 years ago

Of course, a big chunk of it is already available on SSRN.

But more useful to laymen might be MIT’s opencourseware. An incredible resource really and one that it is very encouraging to see.

12 years ago

“Of course, a big chunk of it is already available on SSRN.”
That’s only true of a small number of fields — most fields have nothing of this sort — so “big chunk” might be a little bit of an exaggeration (although many authors stick .pdfs of their publications up for free, copyright or no copyright).

John Morhall
John Morhall
12 years ago

SSRN does not cover scientific or engineering fields. Publishing houses like Elsevier et al charge $US 25 for an 8 page PDF, which presumably goes to the publisher and not the authors, so Harvard are to be applauded. I hope, like swine flu it becomes a global phenomenon.

12 years ago

Following on from Arch, any institution that is substantially government-funded really really ought to be doing this.

One good thing with distributions like RePeC is that you can get working paper versions of the published item, even if you can’t afford the publication.

Also I should point out for anyone who doesn’t know it yet Google Scholar.