Harvard’s new open-access fund

September 15th, 2009

Harvard’s participation in the open-access compact is being managed by the Office for Scholarly Communication, which has set up an open-access fund—the Harvard Open-Access Publishing Equity (HOPE) fund—consistent with the compact. Through HOPE, Harvard will reimburse eligible authors for open-access processing fees. Initially, members of the four Harvard faculties—Arts and Sciences, Education, Government, and Law—that have formally adopted open-access policies will be eligible to make use of the fund, with other faculties becoming eligible as they develop open-access policies. More information about Harvard’s fund can be found at the OSC web site.

Five universities—Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley—have now expressly stated their commitment to the importance of supporting the processing-fee business model for open-access journals just as the subscription-fee business model used by closed-access journals has traditionally been supported. These universities are the initial signatories of a “compact for open-access publishing equity” (COPE), which states:

We the undersigned universities recognize the crucial value of the services provided by scholarly publishers, the desirability of open access to the scholarly literature, and the need for a stable source of funding for publishers who choose to provide open access to their journals’ contents. Those universities and funding agencies receiving the benefits of publisher services should recognize their collective and individual responsibility for that funding, and this recognition should be ongoing and public so that publishers can rely on it as a condition for their continuing operation.

Therefore, each of the undersigned universities commits to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals and for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds. We encourage other universities and research funding agencies to join us in this commitment, to provide a sufficient and sustainable funding basis for open-access publication of the scholarly literature.

MIT provost Rafael Reif says “The dissemination of research findings to the public is not merely the right of research universities: it is their obligation. Open-access publishing promises to put more research in more hands and in more places around the world. This is a good enough reason for universities to embrace the guiding principles of this compact.”

These universities realize that in the long run, underwriting processing fees for open-access journals is “an investment in a superior system of scholarly communication”, as Peter Suber says and as I have argued previously. As more universities sign on to the compact, joined by funding agencies as well, fee-based open-access journals may become an increasingly viable alternative to subscription-based journals.

Full details about COPE are available at http://www.oacompact.org/.

Alan Turing
Image by Whimsical Chris via Flickr

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has apologized on behalf of the British government for the appalling treatment of Alan Turing, who was obliged to undergo chemical castration for the crime of being gay. Prime Minister Brown’s statement in the Telegraph follows an online petition drive that enlisted over 30,000 British citizens and residents, and a follow-on global petition with over 10,000 signatories worldwide.

Much has been made in the discussions surrounding the petition efforts and in the Prime Minister’s statement of Turing’s code-breaking efforts at Bletchley Park, which directly contributed to the allied victory in World War II. Less mentioned, but also central to his legacy, are Turing’s seminal contributions to computer science. It is no exaggeration to say that Alan Turing was the progenitor of computer science, in his brief career providing building the foundation of theory, hardware, systems, artificial intelligence, even computational biology. His death at 42 as a result of the British government’s misguided “therapy” constitutes one of the great intellectual tragedies of the twentieth century. I commend Prime Minister Brown for his prompt and complete apology.

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