MIT and Harvard leading the way… again.

After a trudging semester working on building the groundwork of our Scholarly Communications work at Florida State, it is heartening to see both Harvard and MIT being very public about their stance on open access to scholarly work. In the MIT Faculty Newsletter, Richard Holton states the following, as they are building a working group on open access:

One of the premises of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy was that it would make it possible for “MIT” to be at the table for discussions, rather than leaving each MIT faculty author responsible for negotiating their author rights alone. We hope the Working Group will offer an efficient means of arriving at principled positions to take to Elsevier and other publishers. Elsevier has reacted to the boycott by withdrawing their support from the Research Works Act; we hope that they will reconsider their attitude to open access more generally.

The commercial journals provide an important role in ensuring quality control and we expect The Libraries will go on subscribing to them. But we need to make the articles available to those who don’t have access to a major university library.

Many individual faculty members already post their articles on their own Websites. What the Policy does is to bring some order to this process: the copyright status is made clear, then the library collects the pieces, gives them stable URLs that will persist even if the faculty member moves or retires, and makes sure that they are visible to Google Scholar, and so on.

Particularly, seeing this is useful for me in my continued work advocating for a stronger and more effective open access policy here. Letting the institutional policy govern faculty work, rather than me negotiating between individual faculty and publishers, sounds like a great idea. 

We’ll see what happens next! 


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