The Times reports
"Faculty members are scheduled to vote on a measure that would permit Harvard to distribute their scholarship online, instead of signing exclusive agreements with scholarly journals that often have tiny readerships and high subscription costs."and
"Under the proposal Harvard would deposit finished papers in an open-access repository run by the library that would instantly make them available on the Internet. Authors would still retain their copyright and could publish anywhere they pleased — including at a high-priced journal, if the journal would have them."In my opinion, there is no doubt this is a smart move. Sure, there are some potential downsides to open access. Some journals do good things and they may have to reinvent themselves to continue to bring in revenue. But welcome to the 21st century. It is not like other industries - like music and TV and movies and electronics and so on - have not had to reinvent themselves.
And the result are in --- Harvard approved the initiative (see here for example). Now - I think we should use this as an example to get other institutions to do the same thing. As reported in the Boston Globe, Harry Lewis a CS Professor at Harvard said:
"Harvard is in a unique position to do the right thing in the academic world," he said. "In this case, I think others will be emboldened by Harvard to follow its lead, and the course of collective action will be greater than the course any individual school will take."I will do my best to get UC Davis to do the same thing, but given the animosity towards open access exhibited by our acting provost Barbara Horwitz, it may be a tough ride here. Fortunately, they are interviewing candidates for provost now and hopefully whomever they pick will be more supportive.
So - here is a call to others out there. Push for the same type of thing at your institution. I will be posting more on this in the coming days/weeks. Maybe collectively we can follow Harvard's lead on this and make Universities more about what they are supposed to be about - spreading knowledge.