SPARC-Oberlin Group Webcast on Harvard Policy

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Update by Ray English, Director of Libraries at Oberlin College (April 2009)

[This webcast was not recorded. However, the SPARC-ACRL June 2008 forum on Campus Open Access Policies: the Harvard experience and how to get there, featuring Dr. Shieber, is available.]

On February 25 SPARC hosted a webcast for Oberlin Group liberal arts colleges about Harvard University’s open access policy. A number of Oberlin Group colleges are in various stages of discussing faculty open access policies similar to those that have been adopted at Harvard, MIT, and the Stanford University School of Education, and the webcast served to reinforce these ongoing conversations by answering key questions from librarians and faculty members. Both Trinity University and Oberlin College are now in advanced stages of policy development.

For SPARC support in coordinating a free, live webcast for your consortium or library network, contact Jennifer McLennan through jennifer [at] arl [dot] org. Also see SPARC’s resources on developing campus open-access policies at here.

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The webcast featured Stuart Shieber, Professor of Computer Science at Harvard and director of the university’s new office of scholarly communication.  Shieber was the chief architect of the open access policy passed by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in February 2008, and has been instrumental the passage of similar policies by the Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government.  

Twenty six liberal arts colleges from all parts of the United States participated in the webcast, which was coordinated by Diane Graves, University Librarian at Trinity University; Ray English, Director of Libraries at Oberlin College; and SPARC staff.  The audience included both librarians and faculty at the participating schools.  

In his webcast presentation Shieber outlined the reasons for Harvard’s adoption of its open access policy, including in particular the history of scholarly journal price increases and resulting problems in access to research literature.  He described the details of the Harvard FAS policy, including the university license under which faculty grant the university blanket permission to exercise copyright on their articles for noncommercial purposes; the waiver provision that allows faculty to opt out of the policy for any specific article; and the processes of submitting metadata and depositing articles in Harvard’s new institutional repository so that they may be made openly accessible.

Shieber also described the process leading to Harvard’s policy as well as the institution’s long-term commitment to encourage Harvard authors to publish in open access journals by providing support for their authors’ fees.  A lively question-and-answer session followed Shieber’s presentation.