New Faculty Open Access Working Group Formed — Will Examine Elsevier Policies

Professor Richard Holton announces the formation of a new Faculty Open Access Working Group in the latest issue of the MIT Faculty Newsletter. Holton talks about the origin and purpose of the group, which will operate under the auspices of the Faculty Committee on the Library System to advance the goals of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy, and which will also address “larger issues about open access.”

One such issue is Elsevier’s response to the MIT Faculty Policy. As Holton reports, Elsevier’s author contract now indicates authors ‘must obtain an express waiver’ from the MIT policy, but that’s not all:

“last year they put in place a new Posting Policy, i.e., a policy governing how their authors can publish their pieces on the Web. The new Posting Policy states that in general authors are allowed to post their articles on their Websites, but then adds a caveat saying that this does not extend to repositories with ‘systematic posting mandates.’…The wording is very unclear; no one is quite sure what a “systematic posting mandate” is. …But it is clear that Elsevier is trying to do what it can to undermine [faculty open access] policies, and to confuse faculty about what they are and are not allowed to do.”

Holton points out that outrage at Elsevier’s policies has sparked a boycott, with many MIT participants. “There is a growing sense that some response is needed,” Holton says, “and the new Working Group is planning to consider what, if any, response should be made.”

Overall, Holton “hope[s] the Working Group will offer an efficient means of arriving at principled positions to take to Elsevier and other publishers.”

Members of the Open Access Working Group:

Scott Aaronson (EECS)
Hal Abelson (EECS)
Janet Conrad (ex officio, as Chair of the FCLS) (Physics)
Sasha Costanza-Chock (Writing and Humanistic Studies)
Kai von Fintel (Linguistics)
Eric von Hippel (Sloan)
Richard Holton (Chair) (Philosophy)
John Lienhard (Mechanical Engineering)
Anne Whiston Spirn (Urban Studies & Planning)
George Stephanopoulos (Chemical Engineering)