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Administration and Programs

Office for Scholarly Communication


Late in FY 2008, Stuart M. Shieber ’81, Harvard’s James O. Welch, Jr., and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science, was appointed to serve as director of the University’s new Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC). Harvard University Provost Steven E. Hyman made the appointment in conjunction with Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library (HUL).

“As chair of the Provost’s Committee on Scholarly Communication, as director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, and as author of the open-access motion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Stuart has already established a vision and leadership in the vital area of open access,” said Hyman. “With Stuart at the helm, Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication has the potential to exert worldwide leadership in promoting open access and in moving the academic world toward a more sustainable publishing system.”

The impetus for Shieber’s appointment and launch of OSC was the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) of Harvard University adoption of a policy that granted the University the right to make FAS faculty members’ scholarly articles freely available everywhere in the world. Shieber authored the policy motion that passed unanimously.

Shieber emphasized that “dissemination of the knowledge that our scholarly activities generate is central to the mission of the University. The OSC has the potential for unparalleled expansion of the scope of that dissemination, to the benefit of our faculty, the Harvard community, academia, and the public. I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead Harvard’s efforts in this endeavor, and hope that Harvard’s activities in promoting scholarly communication can be exemplary for the academic community as a whole.”

According to Darnton, “The Harvard University Library has long been engaged by the many questions of access to scholarship that face the University, and we have worked closely with Stuart Shieber and the Provost’s Committee on Scholarly Communication in the formulation of a policy that ensures Harvard’s leadership role in open-access endeavors. Stuart’s appointment marks the launch of the Office for Scholarly Communication as a program of the Harvard University Library and brings HUL’s engagement with scholarly communication to an entirely new level that is consonant with our mission to provide comprehensive access over time to the fullest possible range of scholarly materials.”

HUL created the OSC to enable individual faculty members to distribute their scholarly writings in keeping with the University’s long-standing policy that “when entering into agreements for the publication and distribution of copyrighted materials individuals will make arrangements that best serve the public interest.” The OSC, which will be under the oversight of a faculty advisory committee, will be responsible for executing the University’s open-access policy. It will undertake many related activities, which could include the online distribution of PhD dissertations and of gray literature (data sets, technical reports, occasional lectures), support for open-access journal publishing, and sponsoring conferences. The OSC also will coordinate other University-wide open-access initiatives and all the faculties of the University will be invited to join in a common effort to transmit scholarly articles to a central repository.

Editors note: The open-access repository, known as DASH (for Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) was made available to the general public in beta form on September 1, 2009.