Open Crimson: Harvard’s Arts and Sciences Goes Open Access

Deven Desai

Deven Desai is an associate professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School. Professor Desai’s scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society’s interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review.

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5 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    The university mandate may seem troubling at first, but the inertia here has been truly inexcusable. There are so many people that do not have access to scholarly papers.

    Also, the university mandate may give the profs a needed bargaining chip in dealing with the anti-open-access journals. Before a university

    requirement like this, journals had the upper hand. What’s nice is that if the journals continue playing hardball, they may well lose their Harvard authors, who can start alternatives (such as Varmus’s PLOS Biology).

    Somebody had to take the initial “hit” to get the OA ball rolling. Harvard deserves enormous credit for expending the reputational capital necessary to break publishers’ stranglehold on many valuable works in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

  2. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Already on the margins of academia as it stands, and unable to access some things I was interested in when I was not in the academic world (meaning I couldn’t afford subscriptions to everything I wanted to read nor did the local university have the material), I too think this is a welcome development, and thus second Frank’s comments.

  3. Deven says:

    Hello all,

    Let me clarify. I am not saying this move is bad. I am saying that given the slowness and the access to resources, the license (without more information on how it was achieved) seems odd. As you both note, yes, moving the idea forward is good. And Harvard is well placed to handle the need to adjust the policy if it arises. They are supposed to revisit the idea in three years.

    Still what do you think about these smaller issues? Do they matter? Should other universities follow the exact example or should they alter the license a little?

  4. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:


    I appreciate your clarification and in my case was more responding to Frank’s sentiment than your post as such. I’m not really qualified to adress those “smaller issues,” but I am curious as to what others who are so qualified have to say.

  5. So, the race is on. Will enough high-profile universities adopt this policy to make journals which require exclusive rights to articles stop doing so, or will the journals crack down enough to prevent more universities from enacting this policy?