Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More on the Harvard Law School policy

Athena Y. Jiang, Law School Adopts Open Access for Scholarship, Harvard Crimson, May 7 , 2008.  Excerpt:

Following a growing trend toward openness in academic scholarship, Harvard’s law faculty voted unanimously last Thursday to approve a policy that would make the school’s research articles free and publicly available....

In February, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences made national headlines when it passed a similar policy, while in April, the National Institute of Health required that the research it sponsors be made publicly available through its centralized research depository....

John G. Palfrey, Jr. ’94, a Law School professor who proposed the policy to the faculty, said that he expected the implementation process to go smoothly.

“It seems like there’s no reason why the University shouldn’t be sharing its scholarship, especially when the technology exists to permit that with extremely low cost,” said Palfrey, a cyberlaw expert and incoming head of the Law School Library.

The policy, optional for the moment, will become mandatory in September.

In the past, some faculty members have expressed concerns that open access to articles would adversely affect academic journals, and thus reduce opportunities for younger scholars to be published.

But [Law School Dean Elena Kagan] emphasized that the Law School faculty was united in supporting the decision.

“The view was that legal scholarship will only be enhanced by wider distribution and the potential for greater influence that comes with it,” Kagan said in an e-mailed statement....

Rising costs of academic journals have caused some university libraries to cut back on subscriptions. But Harvard University Library Director Robert C. Darnton ’60 said that there will be “no direct conflict” between open access and journal subscriptions, unless the policy were to spread much more extensively than it has so far.

Darnton has made online publishing a priority since arriving at Harvard last year from Princeton....“These two resolutions are really about openness,” Darnton said. “Our rationale is simply that of democratization of knowledge.”