Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 26, 2008

SPARC honors Harvard FAS for its OA policy

The Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences was just named the SPARC Innovator for 2008.  From today's announcement:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has named the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University as the newest SPARC Innovators for their unanimous vote in support of a policy that ensures Open Access to the faculty’s published research results.

A February 12 vote made the Harvard faculty the first in the U.S. to embrace an Open Access directive and the first to grant permission to the university to make their articles openly available. The policy, drafted by a 10-member provost’s committee, was ratified by unanimous vote of a quorum of faculty members....

“The FAS vote confirms that broadening access to their collective output is of fundamental importance to our faculty, and that they are willing to take strong and decisive action to ensure the accessibility of their works,” adds Stuart M. Shieber, professor of computer science at Harvard, Chair of the provost’s committee, and recently named director of the university’s new Office of Scholarly Communication.

The new SPARC Innovator profile details the process that led to the faculty’s ultimate vote.  It explores motivations behind the decision to take action, looks at how members of the faculty were informed and engaged, why the Open Access requirement and its opt-out provision emerged, and how Harvard has paved the way for other institutions to follow suit.

“People think Harvard can do this kind of thing because Harvard is so rich,” said Shieber. “The irony is that the reason people here got involved was the financial unsustainability – even at Harvard – of the current scholarly publishing regime, which has led to a steady erosion of access as we and other institutions must cancel subscriptions. The goal of this and future policies we will develop is not to save money. The goal is to broaden access.”

“Harvard’s leadership on this issue is an inspiration to academic institutions across the country,” said Diane Graves, University Librarian at Trinity University in San Antonio. “Thanks to Harvard’s prestigious reputation and the unanimous vote by the Arts and Sciences faculty, colleges and universities throughout North America have the incentive to start – or strengthen – similar conversations between their libraries and the faculty....”

“It always takes more work to be first,” said Michael Carroll, professor of law at Villanova University and consultant on the policy. “The trail has now been broken and it’s a lot easier for others to follow.” ...

PS:  Congratulations to Harvard FAS, and especially Stuart Shieber, for this well-earned recognition, and kudos once again for the pioneering OA policy and stunning, unanimous faculty vote.