Good practices for university open-access policies

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  • Last revised November 17, 2015. Version 1.5.


  • This is a guide to good practices for college and university open-access (OA) policies. It's based on the type of policy first adopted at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the University of Kansas. Policies of this kind have since been adopted at a wide variety of institutions in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, for example, at affluent and indigent institutions, public and private institutions, research universities and liberal arts colleges, and at whole universities, schools within universities, and departments within schools.
  • At the same time, the guide includes recommendations that should be useful to institutions taking other approaches.
  • The guide is designed to evolve. No early version will cover every point on which good practices would be desirable or might be discernible. We plan to revise and enlarge it over time, building on our own experience and the experience of colleagues elsewhere. We welcome suggestions.
  • The guide was in the works for several years before we launched the first public version in October 2012. It's one small part of the larger effort described in Recommendation 4.2 of the ten-year anniversary statement of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (September 2012): Supporters of open access "should develop guidelines to universities and funding agencies considering OA policies, including recommended policy terms, best practices, and answers to frequently asked questions."
  • We deliberately call our recommendations "good practices" rather than "best practices". On many points, there are multiple, divergent good practices. Good practices can change as circumstances change, and as we learn more. Good practices are easier to identify than best practices. And there can be wider agreement on which practices are good than on which practices are best.
  • We hope the guide will be useful to institutions considering an OA policy, and to faculty, students, librarians, and administrators who would like their institution to start considering one.
  • The guide is written and edited by Stuart Shieber and Peter Suber. The guide reflects their views as individuals, not necessarily those of Harvard University.
    • Stuart is a Professor of Computer Science and the Faculty Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication. Stuart's ORCID is 0000-0002-7733-8195.
    • Peter is the Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, and Faculty Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Peter's ORCID is 0000-0002-3577-2890.
    • Emily Kilcer researched and wrote the section on Filling the repository. Emily is a Project Coordinator at the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and Research Assistant at the Harvard Open Access Project.