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Open Access Move at Harvard

From the Guardian: “Exasperated by rising subscription costs charged by academic publishers, Harvard University has encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls. … A memo from Harvard Library to the university’s 2,100 teaching and research staff called for action after warning it could no longer afford the price hikes imposed by many large journal publishers, which bill the library around $3.5m a year.”

Guardian story here.

Harvard memo here.

Principled stance or bargaining posture?  Some of both, I think.  This also strikes me as something akin to an “only Nixon can go to China” moment in an ongoing dialogue about open access.  Certainly it is “easy” in a sense for a world-leading private university with billions of dollars in its endowment to threaten to take its faculty scholarship and go home, proverbially speaking.  But a lot of other, less wealthy colleges and universities watch Harvard’s moves carefully.  Harvard knows that.  Maybe the better metaphor is E.F. Hutton.  Commercial publishers know that when Harvard talks, other institutions listen.