Harvard’s Individual Open-Access License

Harvard Releases an Individual Open-Access License for Non-Faculty Scholars

(24 October 2018)  The Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication is pleased to announce the launch of a new open-access license for all Harvard authors of scholarly articles.

All Harvard schools have open-access policies granting certain non-exclusive rights to the University. These policies were adopted by faculty votes, and allow Harvard to make scholarly articles by faculty freely available to the world through DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard), Harvard’s open-access repository.

The new Individual Open-Access License (IOAL) gives Harvard’s non-faculty researchers the same benefits that the faculty policies give faculty. Under the voluntary IOAL, non-faculty authors grant to Harvard the same non-exclusive rights that faculty grant to Harvard under the school-level policies, and Harvard grants the same non-exclusive rights back to the authors. As a result, authors signing the IOAL will have more rights to reuse their own work than they receive under standard or even progressive publishing contracts.

The IOAL is available to all non-faculty scholars at Harvard, such as administrators, librarians, staffers, fellows, post-docs, and students. It’s completely voluntary. For those who sign it, it clears the path to open access without the need to negotiate with the publisher, for example, to obtain permission or modify the contract.

The IOAL does not give Harvard “ownership” of these works. Authors retain ownership or copyright to keep or transfer as they wish. The IOAL gives Harvard no exclusive rights, just non-exclusive rights – for example to make covered works publicly available through DASH.

By design, the IOAL takes precedence over later publisher agreements, just like the faculty policies. Hence, authors who sign the IOAL before submitting a future work to a publisher will receive this bundle of rights without regard to the terms of their publishing contract, unless they choose to opt out of the license for that article. The IOAL does not apply retroactively.

The IOAL is a key step for Harvard staff and students who want to open their scholarly articles, and share them on the web, reuse them in publications, conferences, teaching, or other purposes. Learn more in the Office for Scholarly Communication FAQ entry on the IOAL.