As confirmed in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has just adopted a groundbreaking mandate “that requires faculty members to allow the university to make their scholarly articles available free online.”
Some coverage elsewhere:
- The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: The Case for Open Access
- Harvard faculty considers open access; Tools of Change conference puts publishers on alert – Library Journal
- Optimizing Harvard’s Proposed Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate – Open Access Archivangelism
- Harvard Proposal to Publish Scholarly Research Free on the Internet – New York Times
Peter Suber’s blog is a comprehensive source for Open Access news. Some of his posts covering the Harvard mandate:
- Harvard Faculty Council recommends an OA policy
- More on the imminent OA mandate at Harvard
- Harvard votes yes
- Text of the Harvard policy
Why are those news so important? Well, it’s the first such university mandate in the United States, so it does set a precedent in and of itself. (The UC system might be the second one.) But, of course, Harvard’s prestige is an important factor. Hence the “H-bomb” title: just mentioning “Harvard” has a very strong effect, so much so that some Harvard graduates refrain from mentioning their alma mater. As Suber assesses, Harvard’s support for Open Access makes it unlikely that publishers would refuse articles from Harvard faculty. Personally, I would even go so far as to say that the FUD spewed by “academic” publishers might become much less effective than it has previously been.
In other words, this is a big victory for scholarship. Too bad publishers see it as a defeat. Maybe like “content” lobby groups RIAA and MPAA, publishers will finally be hit by the “cluestick” and will begin to understand that it is, in fact, in their best interest to embrace openness.
Yes, call me naïve.