Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, April 07, 2008

Profile of Harvard's Free Thesis Project

Bita M. Assad, Web Site Provides Theses Online, The Harvard Crimson, April 7, 2008.
As the final round of seniors turn in their theses, a fledgling open-access initiative is encouraging students to make their work accessible to the world.

The Free Thesis Project, a Web site run by Harvard College Free Culture, currently allows seniors to upload their theses to an online repository. But while the Web site was launched in April 2007, only 20 students so far have submitted their theses for free and open access. ...

The primary arguments in favor of open access for scholarly literature written by faculty and students are both pragmatic and ideological, according to Grant W. Dasher ’09, one of the leaders of the Free Thesis Project. He added that there is a need to drive down the cost of scholarly journals, which would eliminate the high subscription rates for universities.

Even as the University shifts to open access, the Free Thesis Project has yet to pick up momentum among Harvard’s senior thesis writers.

Jason E. Neal ’08, the only senior to have submitted his thesis so far this year, said seniors are often too preoccupied to think about how they would like their thesis to be distributed for future readers.

“Seniors are busy finishing their theses, and are so relieved to be done, that they don’t ever want to think about it again,” said Neal, who is a government concentrator.

Dasher acknowledged that although the shortage in submissions is partially due to limited awareness, departments have been receptive to the idea of encouraging the initiative. ...

According to Dasher, the Free Thesis Project plans to expand its depository to include PhD theses and eventually to integrate the archive with faculty publications.