Yesterday, Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) unanimously voted a motion on open access policy. FAS Faculty members now grant to the university a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to distribute their scholarly articles, provided it is for non commercial uses. An opt-out mechanism allow Faculty members to waive this mandatory assignment upon request for some articles, for instance in the case of incompatible rights assignment to a publisher.
Faculty members will retain copyright in their articles, and provide an electronic version to the University together with a license to make them available in an open access repository.
Faculty members are writing, reviewing, editing scientific articles and sometimes have to assign all their rights to commercial publishers, making impossible for them for instance to reuse their own work in their course materials, or archive their article in an institutional repository. Libraries are purchasing back access to their faculty members’ scholarly work through journals subscriptions.
This mandated permission to the university contrasts with other approaches to open access, such as:
- self-archiving mandate, or obligation for authors to deposit their articles in open access repositories (research funded by NIH in the US, European Research Council, Wellcome Trust deposit mandate in the UK)
- negotiation by individual authors, without the bargaining power of an institution, to retain some of their rights to reuse and archive pre-print and/or post-print, immediatly or after an embargo period, through copyright addendum to be attached to publisher’s copyright agreement, such as those proposed by Science Commons Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine, developed with SPARC and MIT,
- publication in open access journals, where authors’ institutions often have to pay to be published (up to 3000$ per article), instead of the library having to pay a subscription to access to published articles.
It will be interesting to compare the differents policies results. As Michael Carroll explains, “this license empowers the librarians to seed and to manage the institutional repository in a much more robust way. The license applies going forward so that at the moment a faculty member finishes the first draft of an article, the university has a license. Any subsequent transfer of copyright to a publisher is subject to this license unless the faculty member requests that the university waive the license with respect to that particular article.”
For more information on the open access movement, see Peter Suber’s blog. Sherpa Romeo provide a repository of journals copyright transfer agreements and self-archiving policies. More than 50% of pay-journal policies allow their authors to archive their articles in open access repositories. The Budapest Open Access Initiative provided the first definition of open access to scientific literature.
Congratulations to Berkman Faculty Stuart Shieber and all those who were involved in the process! According to Professor Stuart Shieber, “This is a large and very important step for scholars throughout the country. It should be a very powerful message to the academic community that we want and should have more control over how our work is used and disseminated”.