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May 8, 2008

Harvard Law School Mandates Open Access

The Harvard Law School joined its Faculty of Arts & Sciences in mandating open access for all its peer-reviewed publications. As reported here earlier, the Faculty of Arts & Sciences unanimously mandated open access in February of this year.

Read the full announcement.

From the announcement:

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. ...

Posted by Katie Newman at 1:34 PM

May 7, 2008

New Open-Access Humanities Press Makes Its Debut

Jennifer Howard, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is reporting today that a new venture with prominent academic backers wants to help humanists put their work online.

Open Humanities Press, will open it's doors on Monday (May 12) with the publication of seven peer-reviewed journals, which have established track records as open access titles.:
Cosmos and History (2005-)
Culture Machine (1999-)
Fibreculture (2003-)
Film-Philosophy (1997-)
International Journal of Žižek Studies (2007-)
Parrhesia (2006-)
Vectors (2005-)

From the OHP website: "Open Humanities Press journals are fully peer reviewed, scholarly publications that have been chosen by OHP's editorial advisory board for their outstanding contribution to contemporary theory. OHP's journals are independent, published under open access licenses and free of charge to readers and authors alike."

Each journal will retain editorial independence. The press will "provide editorial and technical-development services, using the Open Journal Systems software created by the Public Knowledge Project, and it will help with distribution and promotion". Aside from the editorial boards of the various journals, the Open Humanities Press has, according to the Chronicle, put together a

star-studded lineup of literary critics and theorists as its editorial advisory board. The panel includes Alan Badiou, professor of philosophy emeritus at France's École Normale Supérieure; Jonathan Culler, professor of English and comparative literature at Cornell University; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, professor in the humanities at Columbia University; and J. Hillis Miller, professor of English at the University of California at Irvine. Another member is Stephen Greenblatt, professor of the humanities at Harvard University. In 2002, as president of the Modern Language Association, Mr. Greenblatt issued a rallying cry to humanists about the crisis in traditional scholarly publishing.

How is this being paid for? And what is are it's long-term goals? From the Chronicle article:

To begin with, the press will have no operating budget and no formal staff. Internet hosting is being provided gratis by ibiblio, a sort of Internet library—or "conservancy," as they call it—based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The founders will draw on their professional networks, and those of the journals, to get things done in the near term.

Those involved with Open Humanities Press hope to expand beyond critical theory, perhaps even beyond journals and into open-access monographs, once the enterprise has a reputation for what Mr. Ottina called "rigorous academic quality."

"Ultimately," he said, "the goal is to get as much academic content into an open-access distribution model as possible."

Posted by Katie Newman at 5:30 PM

May 6, 2008

Rockefeller Press to License Works from Authors

In an editorial entitled "You wrote it, you own it", Emma Hill and Mike Rossner (Executive Editor of The Journal of Cell Biology and Executive Director of The Rockefeller University Press, respectively) announced in the Journal of Cell Biology, April 30, 2008 that the Rockefeller University Press, rather than requiring that authors assign their their copyrights to the Press, they would henceforth just grant the Press an exclusive license for 6 months. The authors who publish in the three Press journals, The Journal of Cell Biology, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, or The Journal of General Physiology will henceforth be allowed to keep their copyrights.

Excerpts of the editorial:

This permits authors to reuse their own work in any way, as long as they attribute it to the original publication. Third parties may use our published materials under a Creative Commons license, six months after publication...

In 1787, the Copyright Clause of the United States Constitution gave the United States Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." For more than two centuries, however, authors of scientific papers have been giving up that right. ... On the positive side, the publisher defended against improper use of the authors' work; on the negative side, restrictions were placed on authors (and third parties) that limited the reuse of the published work.

In a further step to enhance the utility of scientific content, we have now decided to return copyright to our authors. In return, however, we require authors to make their work available for reuse by the public. Instead of relinquishing copyright, our authors will now provide us with a license to publish their work. This license, however, places no restrictions on how authors can reuse their own work; we only require them to attribute the work to its original publication. Six months after publication, third parties (that is, anyone who is not an author) can use the material we publish under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License (

The Creative Commons License will apply retroactively to all work published by The Rockefeller University Press before November 1, 2007... Authors who previously assigned their copyright to the Press are now granted the right to use their own work in any way they like, as long as they acknowledge the original publication.

We are pleased to finally comply with the original spirit of copyright in our continuing effort to promote public access to the published biomedical literature.

Full text of our new copyright policy is available here:

Posted by Katie Newman at 12:40 PM