Harvard’s University Librarian, Martha Whitehead, has a powerful statement up today on Harvard’s commitments to advancing open access. I want to highlight this part, which I think is crucial. It gets down to brass tacks on an important issue with which the open access community needs to reckon. When we talk about equity, and “open for whom,” we have to talk about APCs, which are inherently problematic from an equity perspective:
In my own view, to achieve this equity and diversity, we need to go beyond article processing charges (APCs) and the aims of transformative agreements. A reliance on APCs excludes authors who cannot find the money to pay them, and that burden falls disproportionately on authors from the global south and from less affluent institutions in the global north. We need to develop truly transformative models that leverage the opportunities of the digital age and fully remove cost barriers: no fees for authors or readers. We need to envision distributed, trusted networks, rather than letting control rest within just a few entities. We need academic control of academic work. We need to invest in reasonable and transparent costs, ideally within an open-source framework, for infrastructure and services that enable the use of that scholarly work.
The full post is worth a read: Harvard Library’s Commitment to Open Access