Harvard Business School open access policy: Oh, the irony

So Harvard Business School has approved an open access policy. (Thanks to Nicole Engard for the alert).

Under the HBS policy, Like the previous policies, faculty agree to provide copies of their scholarly articles for distribution from the university’s DASH repository and grant the university a waivable license to distribute the articles.

This may strike some business librarians as kind of ironic. The popular Harvard Business Review (and their Case Studies) is published by Harvard Business School Publishing, which I assume is associated with the Harvard Business School.

HBR (and especially HBR Case Studies) are known to be some of the (strictest) (publishers) (around) when it comes to controlling their intellectual property. They try not to allow any library to supply a case study via Inter-Library Loan, they try to make sure one copy of a case study is purchased for every student in a class using it (no sharing a hard-copy!), etc.

So it seems a safe guess that for a Harvard Business School faculty member to get an article published in their own school’s Harvard Business Review… they’re going to have to waive their school’s open access policy. No copies of those articles going in the repo, at least not publicly accessible.

Oh, actually, I should have read the actual policy. They did think of that. The policy actually does say:

Since the policy will apply only to articles prepared for peer review, it thus does not apply to Harvard Business School Cases and Notes, or to articles written for the Harvard Business Review or other publications that are not peer-reviewed. The Dean or the Dean’s designate will waive application of the license for a particular article upon express direction by a Faculty member.

Earlier in their policy, they say “The Faculty of the Harvard Business School is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible.”  Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s an “except when the school, not some other publisher, makes money from it” implicitly tagged on at the end?

I think that’s what’s called “irony”, but I always get that confused with “please remind me what these policies are meant to accomplish?”

[I am curious to hear from a business grad student, faculty member, or librarian… how often is formal peer review used for business scholarship in general?  If the HBR isn’t peer reviewed, my guess is that most business scholarship isn’t?]

9 thoughts on “Harvard Business School open access policy: Oh, the irony

  1. “Peer-reviewed” roughly marks the dividing line, but the deeper underlying distinction is between author non-giveaway work, written for royalty income, and author give-away work, written solely for research uptake and impact.

    But let’s not get stuck on details for now. Once open-access self-archiving mandates become universal, things will sort themselves out as a natural matter of course.

    One thing that would help, though, would be if it were the optimal mandate model that were adopted: that’s to require all (final drafts of) articles to be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, without exception, and to allow a waiver only for whether and when the deposit is made open access. Meanwhile, the repository’s “fair dealing button” can take care of would-be users’ needs with “Almost OA” to tide over any publisher embargo:

    Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

  2. I think this sort of hypocrisy is very common in the OA world.

    And as I have shown several times the eprint button of Professor Harnad is no part of a valid OA strategy.

  3. In some fields most scholarly publications don’t earn much if anything for their authors, so the distinction between “give away” vs non might make sense and still result in “disseminating the fruits of research and scholarship as widely as possible.”

    But I’m wondering if that’s true for business school scholarship. I mean, the Harvard Business Review is a very respected business journal, right? If it doesn’t make the “open access” cut — I’m wondering what portion of HBS faculty scholarly output will, and if it’s a tiny portion or not. But I’m not super familiar with business scholarly output.

  4. Harvard has several online courses at academicearth.org.
    We want more of those from Harvard not open articles. Articles can be reached at a small fee but not Harvard courses.

    Still I say to Harvard ” charge something $ 10-20 per course for your online courses like Carnegie Mellon University is doing. Then millions will access your courses from whole world you could not hve imagined. Then project would be sustainable as well. ”
    Hurra Harvard go ONLINE more.

  5. Hey, great blog, just stumbled on it. I’m a business librarian at the University at Buffalo with an interest in OA. Late comment here, but thought I’d chime in, for what it’s worth.

    Regarding your q: “how often is formal peer review used for business scholarship in general?”

    It is safe to say that the scholarly output of business and management faculty, including scholars at HBS, is generally published in peer-reviewed journals at the same rate as other social sciences disciplines.

    The Harvard Business Review is a unique-ish case – it’s one of a few highly regarded “practitioner” outlets for biz research. MIT Sloan Management Review is the other biggie, but there are others. These journals are more practical, less theoretical — aimed more toward providing actionable advice for “real-world” businesses. Both are not peer-reviewed but are extremely selective and ranked mid/upper pack by ISI, Thomson, Web o’ Science.

    I’d echo Stevan Harnad (I think) and say that the model used by the mandate itself is the real key to how effective the mandate will be at opening up access to Harvard’s business research.

  6. Thanks for the business librarian update, Charles. Good to know that HBR is atypical, and making exceptions for ‘non peer reviewed’ materials does not in fact mean that most b-school scholarly output is ‘excepted’ as I feared.

    Not entirely sure what you mean by ‘the model used by the mandate itself’. Looking into it — is it true that all materials need to be deposited, but some will not be public access? Is that the model you mean? If that is indeed what they’re doing, that does seem like a good idea for archival purposes, but doesn’t neccesarily seem to lead to ‘opening up’. What aspect of the model they’re using has you excited about opening up access to their research?

  7. The objective is to get as much of OA’s primary target content — the 2.5M articles per year published in the planet’s 2.5K peer-reviewed journals — deposited and OA, as soon as possible. To get them all OA, you first have to get them all deposited. Ideally, all of them can and should be deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication, and access to the deposit should be set as OA immediately as well. That is the strongest OA mandate, but it is also the hardest one on which to achieve consensus for adoption.

    So most of the mandates are compromises of various kinds, some better, some worse. The worst compromise mandate is to require deposit only if and when the publisher has given their green light to make the deposit OA. This delays both deposit and OA, making both depend on the blessing of the publisher, and in some cases that defers OA indefinitely (if the publisher does not just embargo OA for a specified period, but simply does not endorse OA all).

    This includes many of the opt-out/waiver mandates, and it really means that the mandate is not a mandate at all, since all that is needed for an exemption is an embargo from the publisher. Years of testing have now shown that mere requesting or recommending deposit always fails: only requiring deposit works.

    The next-worst compromise mandate is to cap the maximal embargo (at, say, one year after publication) and require deposit and OA only after that.

    The best compromise mandate — and indeed the best mandate of all, in the real world, because it can be adopted by all universities without worrying about rights or legalities at all — is IDOA, which is to require deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication, without exceptions, opt-outs or waivers, but merely to recommend, not require, making access to the deposit immediately OA. (A cap on the allowable embargo period is also welcome, but not necessary if it is an obstacle to speedy adoption. Ditto for recommending that the author negotiate an “author addendum” with the publisher to formally endorse the author’s right to make the deposit OA: here too, an author opt-out/waiver should be allowed, to ensure that the mandate is universally adoptable.)

    With IDOA, all peer-reviewed final drafts, without exception, are deposited immediately upon acceptance. Access to at least 63% of them can also already be set as OA immediately (because at least 63% of journals already endorse immediate OA). As to those deposits for which the author wishes to honor the publisher’s embargo or interdiction: access can be provisionally set as Closed Access and the Repository’s “Fair Dealing” Button (see above) can take care of users’ needs by making it possible for users to request and authors to provide almost-immediate “Almost OA” with just one click each, through semi-automated eprints request fulfillment, until OA embargoes all die their inevitable, natural and well-deserved deaths under the pressure of universal IDOA mandates.

    In case anyone is wondering about what on earthy Klaus Graf meant with his irate intervention above: Herr Graf is so indignant that everything is not OA already that he is in no mood for pragmatic compromises. Unfortunately, indignation gets us nowhere — whereas IDOA is the fastest and surest way to get us to 100% OA.

    See: “Designing the Optimal Open Access Mandate

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