On 12 February 2008, Harvard became the first university to make open access to faculty-published scholarly articles a standard practice. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University voted to “give the University a worldwide license to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available” to scholars and the public worldwide, free of charge. Faculty members can opt-out of the open access program by requesting a waiver, which officials say will be granted.

Harvard professor Stuart M. Shieber attributed the need for this change to rising costs of journals, canceled subscriptions, and the lack of freedom many scholars were afforded in the past. Harvard Provost, Steven E. Hyman stated, “The goal of university research is the creation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge. At Harvard, where so much of our research is of global significance, we have an essential responsibility to distribute the fruits of our scholarship as widely as possible. Today’s action in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will promote free and open access to significant, ongoing research. It is a first step in the creation of an open-access environment for current research that may one day provide the widest possible dissemination of Harvard’s distinguished faculties’ work.”

While details of how the program will work are not available, some familiar with scholarly publishing remain concerned that open access could devalue peer-reviewed, scholarly journals, and could seriously jeopardize the quality of peer reviewed literature.

 


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