By PATRICIA COHEN
Publish or perish has long been the burden of every aspiring university professor. But the question the Harvard faculty will decide on Tuesday is whether to publish — on the Web, at least — free.
Faculty members are scheduled to vote on a measure that would permit Harvard to distribute their scholarship online, instead of signing exclusive agreements with scholarly journals that often have tiny readerships and high subscription costs.
Although the outcome of Tuesday’s vote would apply only to Harvard’s arts and sciences faculty, the impact, given the university’s prestige, could be significant for the open-access movement, which seeks to make scientific and scholarly research available to as many people as possible at no cost.
“In place of a closed, privileged and costly system, it will help open up the world of learning to everyone who wants to learn,” said Robert Darnton, director of the university library. “It will be a first step toward freeing scholarship from the stranglehold of commercial publishers by making it freely available on our own university repository.”