Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, March 16, 2009

Harvard's Kennedy School adopts an OA mandate

Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government has adopted an OA mandate.  From today's announcement:

The faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University voted overwhelmingly last week to make all faculty members' scholarly articles publically available online at no charge, providing for the widest possible dissemination of faculty research and scholarship. The historic vote adds Harvard Kennedy School to a growing list of faculties at the university to endorse the initiative.

"The scholarly articles authored by Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) faculty members enhance the understanding of many critical and urgent public policy issues, and by embracing open access we seek to maximize the avenues by which these ideas are shared," said Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood. "In the developing world especially, where access to expensive journals is rare, there is a pressing need for access to the latest policy advice and scholarship coming from HKS faculty."

Under the new policy, HKS will make articles authored by faculty members available in an open access online repository, the contents of which will be searchable through web tools such as Google Scholar. Authors will maintain the right to distribute articles on their own websites, and educators will have the right to freely provide the articles to students, so long as the materials are not used for profit. Faculty members will have the ability to "opt out" of the requirements of the new policy in the case of specific articles in which the policy proves to be incompatible with the obligations under a particular publisher's contract.

The vote at HKS follows a proposal by a university-wide committee aimed at encouraging wider dissemination of scholarly work. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and faculty at Harvard Law School (HLS) each voted last year to endorse legislation similar to that approved by the HKS faculty.

Stuart M. Shieber, the James O. Welch Jr. and Virginia B. Welch professor of computer science (FAS) and faculty director of the Office for Scholarly Communication, who introduced the legislation last year said, "I am delighted that the faculty of yet another school at Harvard has chosen to embrace open access and that momentum is spreading on campus. Now that the Office for Scholarly Communication is staffed, the DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) repository is in development, and we have experience working with both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Law School, we look forward to working with the Harvard Kennedy School to implement their faculty’s important decision smoothly and efficiently."

Although other academic institutions have considered similar open access policies, none are considered as far-reaching as the one put forth at Harvard.

Comment.  This is the third Harvard OA mandate, after the mandates at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Law School.  A fourth is in development at the Medical School.  It's also the third Harvard OA mandate adopted by faculty vote.  It follows the exemplary pattern of the FAS and Law School policies, requiring OA through the IR but offering the possibility of an op-out (which applies only to OA, not to both OA and deposit).  Kudos to Stuart Shieber, the Office of Scholarly Communication, and all involved at the Kennedy School.

Update (3/17/09).  Also see Andrew Albanese's article in Library Journal:

...Notably, unlike the [Faculty of Arts and Sciences] vote, the [Kennedy School] faculty vote was not unanimous. While Harvard spokesman Doug Gavel said he was not privy to the final vote tally, but that the vote passed overwhelmingly—with some 98 percent voting in favor. Kennedy School dean David T. Ellwood, however, is one in clear support of the mandate. “In the developing world especially, where access to expensive journals is rare, there is a pressing need for access to the latest policy advice and scholarship coming from [Kennedy School] faculty," he said in a statement.