Harvard Library Is Launching Harvard Open Journals Program

Harvard Library is launching a new initiative called the Harvard Open Journals Program (HOJP), which will help researchers advance scholarly publishing that is open access, sustainable, and equitable. HOJP will provide publishing services, resources, and seed funding to participating Harvard researchers for new academic journals. All journal articles will be entirely free for authors and readers, with no barriers to publish or to access.

Martha Whitehead, Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian, sees the initiative as an important step in championing open access. Whitehead said, “We want to model the original ethos of open access by reducing barriers and enabling the free flow of ideas and knowledge across the research ecosystem and beyond to the public at large.”

The Harvard Open Journals Program will offer publishing and hosting services to help the Harvard community launch new open access journals, or to convert existing journals to open access. The program will offer two support models: an overlay model which takes advantage of open access repositories, such as Harvard’s DASH, and a brand-new academic press model. 

Yuan Li, University Scholarly Communication Officer and Director of Open Scholarship and Research Data Services at Harvard Library, pointed out the innovative nature of the program, “It is new for an institution to support faculty in seeking out an academic press to publish a no-fee open access journal and to provide assistance in securing its long-term funding. And offering a repository overlay journal model provides an alternative that appeals to some editorial boards and is gaining traction through initiatives such as Episciences. As we implement and refine this program on our campus, we hope it will inspire other universities to adopt such approaches to supporting barrier-free scholarly publishing.”

The program is a direct response to faculty interest in alternatives to the article-processing-charge model, in which journals charge author-side fees to publish papers open access. It also supports federal requirements that publications resulting from publicly-funded research be open access.

The open access movement in scholarly publishing seeks to grant free and public online access to publications and data. In recent decades, many researchers have become increasingly concerned that commercial rather than scholarly interests are driving the publishing ecosystem. With some publishers charging article processing fees of over $10,000 per article, skyrocketing costs inhibit many researchers and institutions from publishing in these journals. At the same time, research institutions continue to pay high subscription costs, even as their faculty provide editorial and peer review services mainly for free to the publishers. These practices have led to widespread outcry in the scholarly community, and tensions between publishers and editorial boards have led to the latter’s mass resignations.

Scott Edwards, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and a member of the Harvard Library Faculty Advisory Council, applauds the library’s exploration of new models for supporting open access publishing. Edwards said, “In this increasingly challenging publishing ecosystem, the Harvard Open Journals Program is a welcome new approach.” 

“These are sustainable and equitable open access publishing models that allow scholars to take control of scholarly communication,” added Li. “I hope that many research-heavy institutions adopt our approach. The first Harvard Open Access policy launched in 2008 has been adopted nationally and internationally, and it would be great to see similar reach.”

Under Harvard’s Open Access policies, Harvard faculty and researchers give the University a nonexclusive, irrevocable right to distribute their scholarly articles for any non-commercial purpose. Stored and preserved in DASH, Harvard Library’s open access repository, these articles are made available to the scholarly community and the public—anyone with an internet connection can read them for free.

Harvard Library is working closely with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research on launching the HOJP program. John Shaw, Vice Provost for Research and Harry C. Dudley Professor of Structural and Economic Geology, is eager to promote the initiative in the suite of programs that support faculty research. Shaw said, “The launch of HOJP provides very encouraging options for removing barriers to making research results open and expanding their reach.”

The Harvard Open Journals Program will be open to all journals with a current Harvard affiliate on the editorial team or editorial board. Student-run journals are also eligible, as long as they are sponsored by a Harvard faculty member or administrator.

In preparing to launch HOJP this summer, Harvard Library is currently seeking input on program details from interested faculty. HOJP will begin accepting applications in the fall from journals and editorial boards. Colleen Cressman, Librarian for Open Publishing, will manage the program and can be reached by email for more information.