“You can always tell a Harvard man…
but you can’t tell him much.”

— Source unknown

In the abecedary Harvard A to Z, in the entry under “Deans”, the story is told that “a president of the University of Virginia once received a letter requesting a university speaker for an alumni club meeting. To the club’s request that he not designate anyone lower than a dean, the president is alleged to have replied that there was no one lower than a dean.”

Why do deans get no respect? The reason, of course, is that the deanship is by reputation the quintessential position of responsibility without authority. You are in charge of a faculty who do what they will, not what you would have them. The phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “academic freedom”.

I bring this up in the context of questions about “open-access mandates”.

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I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere, but it seems that the Institute of Education Sciences in the Department of Education is now requiring its funded research be made openly available through the ERIC repository. The policy looks analogous to that of the NIH.  The pertinent clause from the current IES Request for Applications is:

Recipients of awards are expected to publish or otherwise make publicly available the results of the work supported through this program.  Institute-funded investigators should submit final, peer-reviewed manuscripts resulting from research supported in whole or in part by the Institute to the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC, http://eric.ed.gov) upon acceptance for publication.  An author’s final manuscript is defined as the final version accepted for journal publication, and includes all graphics and supplemental materials that are associated with the article.  The Institute will make the manuscript available to the public through ERIC no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. Institutions and investigators are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning submitted articles fully comply with this requirement.

Thanks to John Collins of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education for bringing this to my attention.

A strange social contract has arisen in the scholarly publishing field, a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to online distribution of articles by authors.  Publishers officially forbid online distribution, authors do it anyway without telling the publishers, and publishers don’t ask them to stop even though it violates contractual obligations. What happens when you refuse to play that game? Read on.

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The Harvard Graduate School of Education has just released its official announcement of their June 1 enactment of an open-access policy, following the approach of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Law School, and Kennedy School of Government, as well as the Stanford University School of Education.

Four down, six(ish) to go.

Hal Daume at the NLP blog bemoans the fact that “there is too much to review and too much garbage among it” and wonders “whether it’s possible to cut down on the sheer volume of reviewing”.

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Are green and gold open access independent of each other? In particular, is worry about gold OA a waste of time, and are expenditures on it a waste of money? Stevan Harnad has brought up this issue in response to a recent talk I gave at Cal Tech, and in particular my remarks about a potential “open access compact”. I will take this opportunity to explain why I think that the answer to both questions is “no”.

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Recently, the representative of a major scientific journal publisher expressed to me the sentiment that the position that Harvard faculty have taken through our open-access policies — setting the default for rights retention to retain rights by default rather than to eschew rights by default — is in some sense unfair to subscription-based journals that require embargoes, that we are favoring one scholarly publishing business model over another and setting up an unlevel playing field.

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One of the frequent worries I hear expressed about open-access policies such as the ones at Harvard is that they will lead to the death of journals (or of scholarly societies, or of peer review). When we first began addressing Harvard faculty on these issues, I heard this worry expressed so frequently that I wrote up my standard reply to save myself time in answering it. I supply that reply in this entry. There is little original in the argument. It has been made in various forms in various places in writings about open access, most notably and comprehensively by Peter Suber here . But it may be useful to see it in this distilled form.

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