Published online 20 February 2008 | Nature 451, 879 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451879f

News in Brief

Harvard adopts opt-out open-access policy

K. SNIBBE/HARVARD UNIV.

Harvard University (pictured) has adopted guidelines under which the 'final drafts' of academic papers written by researchers at its Faculty of Arts and Sciences will automatically be published on the university's website, unless the authors request a waiver. Immediate open access to papers could conflict with the copyright policies of many journals including <i>Cell</i>, <i>Nature</i> and <i>Science</i>.

Many institutions keep open-access repositories of papers but the decision makes Harvard the first US university to sign up to default open-access publishing for its research staff. Although the University of California has toyed with the idea for years, it has yet to agree on a policy.

Stuart Shieber, the computer scientist at Harvard who proposed the scheme, says that any request for an exemption will be granted. The university has not yet worked out how to define what constitutes a 'final' draft of a scholarly paper, nor come up with a time limit for submission.

Critics of open-access policies worry that highly selective journals with large readerships will suffer, and that non-peer-reviewed research will become more prominent. 

Read our longer version of this story.

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