In a move that will disseminate faculty research and scholarship as broadly as possible, the Harvard Law School faculty unanimously voted last week to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available online for free, making HLS the first law school to commit to a mandatory open access policy.
"The Harvard Law School faculty produces some of the most exciting, groundbreaking scholarship in the world," said Dean Elena Kagan '86. "Our decision to embrace 'open access' means that people everywhere can benefit from the ideas generated here at the Law School."
Under the new policy, HLS will make articles authored by faculty members available in an online repository, whose contents would be searchable and available to other services such as Google Scholar. Authors can also legally distribute the articles on their own websites, and educators here and elsewhere can freely provide the articles to students, so long as the materials are not used for profit.
"This exciting development is something in which the whole Harvard Law School community can take great pride," said John Palfrey '01, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and newly appointed vice dean of library and information resources. "The acceptance of open access ensures that our faculty's world-class scholarship is accessible today and into the future. I look forward to the work of implementing this commitment."
The vote came after an open access proposal was made by a university-wide committee aimed at encouraging wider dissemination of scholarly work. Earlier this semester, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to adopt a policy similar to the Law School’s new initiative.
Similar initiatives are underway to promote free and open access to scholarly articles elsewhere, although no initiative extends as far as Harvard's. Legislation before Congress would mandate that all federally funded research be available in open access.