The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard has decided to give the university the right to publish all of its scientific articles in Harvards own electronic archive. The scientific staff will of course still retain copyright. If scientists wish to publish in a journal that demands that they renounce their copyright, and will not allow publication in Harvards archive, then they must request to be exempted from the rule. The initiative did not come from the faculty leadership, but from a group of academic employees, and has received a lot of attention in the academic world.
When Harvard makes this type of move, then its obvious that it will be noticed, says Ole Gunnar Evensen, of the Department for Acquisitions at the University Library in Bergen.
The department is responsible for BORA - the university archive. The department also publishes research work that has open access, but at the moment the researchers must themselves take the initiative, and they must also ensure that articles that are put into the archive dont come into conflict with the legal rights of the journals.
The Harvard initiative means that the scientists have the backing of the institution when they have dealings with the publisher, says Evensen, who believes that many scientist dont fully understand how archives such as BORA work.
Scientists must remember that they can make demands when they publish their articles in journals, and most publishers accept publishing in institution archives if the scientist requests it, even if they will not accept other forms for parallel publishing.
Preparing a case for the board
The initiative at Harvard is part of an international movement to secure open access to research that is financed by the public sector, and to ensure that journals cannot place unreasonable restrictions on the use and spreading of research results.
Vice-Chancellor Sigmund Grønmo maintains that UiB wishes to increase the use of open access, and informs that a case is being prepared which will be presented to the board shortly.
Of course we notice what is happening concerning this elsewhere in the world, and are glad that things are heading towards more open access to research, he says.
BORA is per February 2008, the only Norwegian institution archive on The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities list, of this type of archive.