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What Is Harvard Referencing Format?
When you write academically, you will research sources for facts and data, which you will likely include in your writing. Using this information will require that you cite your sources. Your instructor may require Harvard referencing format, which is a style for formatting your citations.
The Purpose of Referencing
You may need to learn a variety of referencing styles as you write academically. The purpose of referencing is to record the sources of the information you cite or include in your document. Referencing shows your readers that you engaged in thorough research to learn about your subject, also showing that you chose reputable sources for your research. If you use ideas or information that belong to other authors, you must cite this material to give credit to the original authors.
Referencing elevates your work, because it makes your research evident and adds to your credibility. Referencing also enables your readers to check your work to validate and verify.
Overview of Harvard Referencing Format
Different referencing methods will have different styles. The Harvard referencing format involves a straightforward author-date style, which is easy to implement.
Harvard style requires in-text citations throughout the body of the document as well as a comprehensive reference list after the body. The entries in the reference list are listed alphabetically, and every in-text citation must be included in the reference list (and vice-versa).
Benefits of Harvard Style
Harvard referencing style is basic, just including the name of the author or creator and the date of the publication. If an instructor doesn’t specify a style, citing in Harvard style is often a safe bet, because it includes the basic information necessary to cite sources.
Harvard style doesn’t stipulate rules for abbreviations, capitalization, punctuation and italics like other academic styles such as APA. Thus, as long as you have the main components of the in-text citation or the entry in your reference list, you should satisfy the general requirements.
You can list up to six authors’ last names for one entry. If you have more than six authors, include the first three followed by “et al.” If you repeat a citation, list it in full again. As you adopt a style for the citations, keep it uniform throughout your document. For example, if you underline or use italics, use them in the same way for every entry.
In the reference list, list every source for every citation, even when repeated.
Use a Harvard Referencing Example
As you’re learning how to reference according to Harvard style, it may help to review Harvard referencing examples so you can create your references in the same format. Many learning institutions have resources for students to assist with referencing, so check on your school’s website. An Internet search will also produce many options for referencing examples.
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The Harvard International Review welcomes submissions from contributing authors. Please include your full name, any affiliations with Harvard University or other institutions and organizations relevant to the content of your article, and an evening or mobile phone number so that you can be contacted if your piece is chosen for publication.
Submissions to the HIR must be previously unpublished. Though we encourage contributors to use prior articles and columns to spark their thinking, submissions that directly reference, quote, or paraphrase prior articles will not be chosen for publication.
We do not publish articles written on behalf of an organization, club or group, whether at Harvard, in Cambridge, or on a national or international scale. We furthermore strongly discourage groups of people from submitting articles together except when absolutely necessary. In such cases, we will likely restrict primary authorship to one individual. As a policy, we do not permit anonymous submissions.
The HIR reserves the right to edit all submissions prior to publication, though authors will be contacted regarding any major changes. The HIR is responsible for all article titles.
All submissions must be edited to adhere to our writing and style guide . The HIR only accepts " Global Notebook " articles from contributing authors; we do not accept time-sensitive contributions. All submissions must be pre-formated to meet the HIR style guide. Submissions must also include images, captions, and sourcing as per the style guide. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in your submission being archived without response. Please be aware that a small fraction of submissions are chosen for publication.
Submissions welcome to the editors via [email protected].
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The publishing of original scientific research work in peer-reviewed journals is an important aspect of a student's training.
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All manuscripts resulting from work being done as part of a student's graduate education and research training must be in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. The NIH Public Access Policy is a legal requirement and a term of condition of all NIH awards, but should not be considered as limited to work resulting from NIH funded projects. Final, peer-reviewed journal manuscripts should be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication.
On submittal of a manuscript to PubMed Central, the paper will receive a PMCID# that should be included in reference citations.
Some journals will automatically submit manuscripts for public access to PubMed Central, but not all do, in which case the PI may need to make special arrangements with the journals and publishers to post the paper directly to PubMed Central. It can take a few weeks from submittal to PubMed Central before the PMCID# is issued, in which case a status of “PMC Journal- In Process” will be indicated.
Please see http://publicaccess.nih.gov/citation_methods.htm for more information about acceptable compliance statuses for public access papers and the process to submit papers for a PMCID#.
Indicating Program Affiliation/ Support
As a student in the Graduate Program in Biophysics at Harvard University, research work that results in publication should contain the Program Affiliation for the student's contribution to the paper as follows:
* Harvard Graduate Program in Biophysics, Harvard University
In addition, those students supported as trainees on the Moelcular Biophysics Training Grant during a time when actively working on aspects of a project that results in publication, should include the following as a source of support for that paper:
- Preliminary Qualifying Examination (PQE)
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- Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC)
- Individual Development Plan (IDP)
- Dissertation Defense
Open Access Publishing
- Common Open Access Myths
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Defining Open Access
Open access (oa) means that information is:.
- freely available
- published digitally online
- has few restrictions on its use or reproduction
What are the origins of the OA movement?
- The OA movement is the result of a recent scholarly communication crisis, where the pricing model of academic journals became unsustainable for many educational institutions.
- That crisis, combined with the low cost of online publishing and distribution, led to a dramatic increase in OA publications.
Authors can make their works OA through several avenues:
- Self-Archive a copy of their work in a subject or institutional repository ( Green OA ). DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) is Harvard's institutional repository.
- Publish in a fully OA journal ( Gold OA ). These journals are not subscription-based, but instead, get financial support by asking authors to pay Article Processing Charges (APC), or are funded by scholarly associations or institutional funds. Harvard's Open-Access Publishing Equity (HOPE) fund supports researchers who choose to publish in these journals by reimbursing reasonable article processing fees for articles authored or co-authored by Harvard researchers, published in eligible OA journals , for which no alternative funding is available.
- Publish in a Hybrid OA journal. These journals operate using a subscription-based model but do give authors an option to choose to pay an APC to make their work available open access.
Who Benefits from OA publication?
- Faculty: increased visibility and availability of work can lead to it having a greater impact.
- Students/Teachers: increased access to more information can enhance learning, especially in developing nations.
- Libraries: increased access to information for patrons, for less money than the subscription journal model costs.
- Universities: greater visibility of research outputs.
- General Public: greater access to information, especially to the results of publicly funded research.
How does this impact my grant-funded research?
In addition to giving researchers increased access to information, and making a researcher's own work more accessible, many funding bodies, such as the National Institutions of Health (NIH), require that the works produced using their funds be made accessible to the public . Countway Library's Publishing & Data Services team supports researchers in complying with NIH's Public Access Policy.
Learn more about Open Access by watching this brief video, or exploring the association websites listed below.
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Harvard library bulletin publishes a wide variety of content relating to harvard library collections..
Founded in 1947, HLB has always contained a wide variety of content: scholarly articles, essays relating to librarianship (mostly at Harvard University), and Harvard Library acquisitions news, announcements, and milestones. Relaunched in 2020 as an online journal, HLB will continue to publish in these areas, along with work that is facilitated by a digital publishing environment.
HLB publishes work on a rolling basis. In addition to text content, we welcome submissions in audio/video or multi-modal formats. Please note that creators are responsible for ensuring that their content conforms to Harvard's accessibility standards: https://accessibility.huit.harvard.edu/digital-accessibility-policy .
Our general content categories are as follows:
Long-form (scholarly) article.
A formal essay written through a particular disciplinary lens, generally 7,500–9,000 words. Articles must address Harvard Library collections or history, or make substantial use of one or more collections to answer a critical research question. Long-form articles undergo blind peer review.
Submit Long-Form Article
Long-form article submission details.
All long-form articles should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents through the link above.
Generally, long-form articles should be 7,500–9,000 words, excluding notes. HLB has historically agreed to publish very long articles; while we may continue to do so at our discretion, such articles may be divided into parts and published separately.
Long-form articles will be distributed for blind peer review. Authors should remove all identifying details from the manuscript document, including their name(s), contact details, and personal acknowledgments. Instead, authors should upload a title page with this information.
Please prepare the manuscript using the following formatting guidelines:
Please follow the default page format settings in Word:
- Letter page size (8.5” x 11”)
- Default margins (1.25” left and right; 1” top and bottom)
- Left alignment
- Page numbers in upper right header
All text should be double-spaced and set in 12-point Times New Roman.
To facilitate online publishing and reading, authors should divide articles into sections with headings. Headings should be in Bold Title Case .
Citation and Style
Articles may be submitted in any recognized academic citation style. Upon acceptance, the author will be expected to convert citations to Chicago style. HLB’s style sheet provides more detailed information on style and copyediting.
Do not embed images in the Word document; instead, upload a compressed folder of images separately from the manuscript. Images should be formatted as TIFF or JPEG files. Please identify each image by file name: fig01.jpg, and indicate its location in the text (FIGURE 1) along with the caption.
High quality images are not expected at the time of submission. Upon acceptance, the author is responsible for acquiring both high quality images and the appropriate permissions.
Tables should be inserted using Microsoft Word’s table function rather than formatted manually, and should be placed where the author would like them to appear. Each table should be referenced explicitly in the text: (see Table 1). As with the illustrations, each table should be accompanied by a caption that begins with its identifying information, e.g. Table 1.
Articles should be submitted in English. Non-English passages of a few words may be included in the body of the article, italicized, and followed by a translation. When quoting non-English sources at length, please present the quotation in translation in the body of the text. The original quotation should be included in an accompanying footnote or as an appendix. The source of all translations should be cited appropriately; multiple translations by the author should be cited in the first instance, along with a note that the following translations are also the author’s work.
Authors are responsible for securing permission for all copyrighted material, including images and lengthy quotations. We ask authors to provide proof of permission prior to copyediting and after the acceptance of their submission for publication.
A piece of writing of 3,000 words or less. Submissions must engage with Harvard Library collections but can vary in approach, formality, and format; examples include short critical analyses of collection items, practice-based or teaching-focused essays, interviews, and reflections.
Submit Short-Form Content
Short-form content submission details.
Short-form content (typically 3,000 words max) should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents through the link above. Because these works will not undergo peer review, authors do not need to upload a separate title page.
Authors may divide their article into sections with headings. Headings should be in Bold Title Case .
Digital Humanities Project
DH projects must use Library collections, and must be complete at the time of submission. All data and code must be made open, and sites must meet Harvard's web accessibility standards: https://accessibility.huit.harvard.edu/digital-accessibility-policy
Submit Digital Humanities Project
Digital humanities submission details.
HLB accepts submissions of Digital Humanities, digital scholarship, and digital media projects. Projects will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if they should be sent for peer review.
Authors/creators should submit an abstract of the project that includes a project overview, a description of the Harvard Library collection(s) used, a methodology section if applicable, and the project’s disciplinary context(s); the project’s URL; and links to any data sets, corpora, databases, and/or code created for the project.
(harvard university community only).
Very short content intended to promote newly-acquired or available collections, monographs or other publications that make use of collection materials, or important milestones.
Announcement submission details.
Members of the Harvard University community are welcome to submit announcements relating to the following categories:
- Collections recently acquired or now available for research, particularly those that are available digitally
- Publication of a monograph or other substantial work based on Harvard Library collections
- Milestone events related to Harvard Library
Announcements should be 1–3 sentences, and collections announcements should include the appropriate HOLLIS permalink. If a collection is not available digitally, please describe how researchers can access it. Submitters may include an accompanying image, which may be used at the editor’s discretion. Please submit announcements through the HLB Announcement Submission Form .
Lectures, exhibitions, symposia, and similar events should be announced through the Harvard Library events calendar or departmental/repository newsletters and social media channels. Currently, Harvard Library appointments, retirements, and departures are announced on the Comings and Goings wiki page.
Announcements are not credited to a particular author. Harvard Library employees should receive their supervisor or director’s permission prior to submitting.
HLB Style Sheet
Harvard Library Bulletin ’s Submission Guidelines detail the basic format for long- and short-form manuscript submissions. Authors of accepted manuscripts will be asked to revise their article to conform to our more specific style guidelines, including reformatting citations to conform to the most current Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.).
Other style guidance is as follows:
HLB follows Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition) and the online Merriam-Webster dictionary at merriam-webster.com , opting for the main or first entry when there are alternatives.
Quotations and punctuation
Quotations of more than five lines of prose or a stanza of poetry should be presented as block text, indented 0.5” on the left side using Word’s formatting feature and double-spaced. For inline quotation of poetry, line breaks should be represented by a forward slash (/) and stanza breaks by two forward slashes (//). Omission should be indicated by ellipses with a space on either side, e.g. omissions . . . side.
Inline quotations should be enclosed by double quotation marks (“”). Single quotation marks (‘’) should be reserved for quotations within quotations. Punctuation such as periods and commas should be placed inside quotations, regardless of the punctuation of the original source. Likewise, capitalization at the beginning of a quotation may be added silently, without placing the capitalized letter in brackets ().
In the case of early modern print, all italicization, capitalization, and font variation should be preserved, as well as the original spelling. The abbreviation [sic.] should be used sparingly, and only for errors in the original source that may confuse the reader.
Dates and numbers
Authors should include dates alongside the first mention of historical figures and their works, either parenthetically or as part of the prose. Regnal years, birth years, death years, and circa should be used when appropriate and indicated by ‘r.’ ‘b.’ ‘d.’ and ‘ca.’ (not italicized). Page numbers follow the same format. Both date and number ranges should be represented with an en dash (–) rather than a hyphen (-).
Specific dates should be formatted as month-day-year (September 8, 1836), without superscripts (8 th ). Centuries should be written out in full, e.g. the seventeenth century. With the exception of page numbers, figure numbers, and dates, the numbers one through ten should be spelled out in full, as should numbers at the beginning of sentences (Eighteen years ago).
HLB requests that authors use inclusive, affirmative language when describing people.
- Terms should, to the fullest extent possible, reflect the norms of the communities they reference.
- Mention of a person’s race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other characteristic should be relevant and important to the author’s discussion.
- Whenever possible, authors should strive to use gender- and sex-neutral terms for people and professions (i.e., “humanity” instead of “mankind”).
- Similarly, authors should avoid characterizing professions as male or female.
- Authors should avoid the construction “he/she”; instead, we endorse the third-person plural (“they”, “them”).
Print & forum submissions.
The Harvard Law Review and Harvard Law Review Forum welcome submissions of Articles, Essays, and proposals for Book Reviews through our electronic submission system.
We strongly prefer submissions that comply with the following length limits (including all text, footnotes, and appendices):
- Articles (Print) : 25,000 words*
- Book Reviews (Print) : proposals need not be more than a few pages.
- Essays (Print/ Forum ) : 12,000-17,500 words.
- Responses ( Forum ): 8,000 words (typically solicited but proposals welcome).
- Commentaries ( Forum ) : 6,000 words (typically solicited but proposals welcome).
*Length exceeding 30,000 words will weigh against selection, and we rarely unconditionally accept submissions over 37,500 words.
For background regarding the Review ’s length policy, please see a joint letter issued by a number of law journals across the country.
We encourage contributors to submit manuscripts as Microsoft Word documents through our electronic submission system. Alternatively, manuscripts can be mailed to: Articles Office, Harvard Law Review , 1511 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138.
To submit a piece for publication in the Forum , please select “Forum (online)” in the “Article Type” dropdown menu on the submissions form.
Please help facilitate our anonymous review process by:
- Confining your name, affiliation, biographical information, and acknowledgments to a separate cover page
- Including the manuscript’s title on the first text page.
- Removing any self-citations by replacing phrases such as “I have previously written that . . .” with anonymized replacements such as “It has previously been written that . . .”
Please use footnotes that conform to the 21st edition of the Bluebook .
If you would like to request an expedited review of your submission, please use the unique link included in your confirmation email (these sometimes end up in spam folders).
The Blog aims to publish content from a variety of points of view, and uses a more abbreviated editing process than our print and Forum content. If you are a scholar or practitioner interested in publishing on the Blog , please contact us via email at [email protected] and include either a full draft or a description of your potential post. Blog posts are typically between 750 and 1500 words, although there is no strictly enforced maximum. Posts also use hyperlinks instead of footnotes. The Blog does not accept submissions from current law students.
Seven-day offer window.
The Harvard Law Review and several peer journals have committed to give every author at least seven days to decide whether to accept any offer of publication. The Review believes that eliminating “exploding offers” will improve the quality of our deliberations and the scholarship that we publish.
Preference for Exclusivity
We recommend that you consider submitting your manuscript to us exclusively. Our review process is lengthy; we conduct faculty reviews and a vote of our entire editorial board before we accept pieces. As a result, we are often unable to make quick decisions when faced with exploding offers from other journals. If your preference is to publish in the Review , consider submitting the manuscript to us exclusively at least two weeks before submitting it to other journals.
Authors who choose to submit exclusively should indicate in our electronic submission system the date they expect to send the manuscript to other journals. We apply the same standards of review to all submissions, but submitting exclusively makes it more likely that we will have time to put the manuscript through all the stages of our review process.
Review Process & Timing
The Harvard Law Review carefully considers all manuscripts that it receives. Our selection process has many steps: each piece is reviewed anonymously, at least three editors review every submission, and many pieces go through substantially more stages of review, including an Articles Committee vote, preemption check, faculty peer review, and full-body vote. Although we make every effort to honor requests for expedited review, we do not omit any of our review stages in response to such requests. When requesting an expedited review, please understand that our selection process takes time.
There is no best time to submit a manuscript to the Review . We will never reject an article for lack of space; rather, we will hold it over for consideration by the next volume. We notify authors of our decisions by email and we do not discuss the reasons for our publication decisions.
Source Attribution Policy
The Review aims to ensure that any ideas that already exist in the literature are properly referenced. We do not permit authors to repurpose sentences or paragraphs published elsewhere without quotation marks or citations. As part of our editorial process, we require quotation marks whenever a non-trivial amount of exact language has appeared in another source and citations whenever an idea has been paraphrased from another source — even if the source is the author’s prior work. The Review ’s editors work with authors we publish to help them meet our self-citation requirements.
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Harvard Business Review’s Guidelines for Contributors
At Harvard Business Review , we believe in management. If the world’s organizations and institutions were run more effectively, if our leaders made better decisions, if people worked more productively, we believe that all of us — employees, bosses, customers, our families, and the people our businesses affect — would be better off. We try to arm our readers with ideas that help them become smarter, more creative, and more courageous in their work. To do that, we enlist the foremost experts in management theory and practice to share their insights and counsel.
HBR covers a wide range of topics, including strategy, leadership, organizational change, diversity and inclusion, innovation, decision making, marketing, career transitions, work-life balance, and managing teams. We publish articles of many lengths (some in both print and digital forms, and some in digital only), graphics, podcasts, videos, and just about any other media that might help us share an idea effectively.
Here are the five qualities we look for when evaluating what to publish:
- Expertise: You don’t have to be well known to be a contributor, but you must know a lot about the subject you’re writing about.
- Evidence: It’s not enough to know your subject deeply — you have to prove it to the reader. Referring to supporting research is one good way to do this; describing relevant examples is another. If you have interesting data, let us know.
- Originality: New ideas in management are rare and precious — and one of the primary reasons readers turn to HBR. If you’re writing about a well-worn topic, we’ll be looking for a unique argument or insight. We’ll also be looking at how well it builds on what we’ve already published and whether it might inform or delight the HBR audience specifically.
- Usefulness: HBR readers come to us not only to stay on top of new developments in management thinking, but also to change the way they and their organizations actually do things. If you can explain your thinking so that the reader understands how to apply it in a real situation, that will make it more powerful.
- Writing that’s persuasive and a pleasure to read: HBR readers are smart and skeptical and busy. If you don’t capture their interest right away, they will move on to something else.
Across all these dimensions, we strive to publish content that aligns with our organizational commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. That means we look for pieces that are representative of the diverse audiences we serve. We will prioritize content that depicts a broad array of examples and points of view and we will ensure that our content avoids stereotypes, bias, and language that “others” or diminishes non-dominant groups.
General notes on process
We receive many more submissions than we can publish, and we often have to say no to good proposals due to limitations of space and time or because they’re not distinct enough from other pieces we have published. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, it can take several weeks for us to review an unsolicited proposal. If we’ve passed on something you’ve submitted, please feel free to try again with another idea. If our editors have said no multiple times, it may mean your work isn’t a good fit for our audience.
Our editorial process is more thorough than many other publishers’, and you may be asked to do multiple rounds of revisions. Contributors frequently tell us that they appreciate the extra care and attention their work receives.
We retain final decision rights over headlines. Our editors have spent years learning which kinds of headlines give HBR pieces the best chance of being read, found online, and shared both on social media and in offices around the world. If we rewrite your title, it’s because we believe the revised version will help your idea reach the audience it deserves.
We strive for authenticity in our articles and your work should be original. We don’t publish pieces that have appeared elsewhere, that don’t properly credit the ideas they present, that come across as promotional, or that do not include rigorous citations (though these may not appear in the finished piece). We ask our authors to disclose any financial relationships they have with companies cited in the proposed article. We will ask you to sign a copyright form before we publish your final piece, but authors continue to own the underlying ideas in their articles.
On the use of generative AI, we understand our contributors may want to use these tools to research story ideas and examples. We ask authors to share whether and how they’ve used these tools with their editor. And importantly, our authors are accountable for the accuracy, integrity, and originality of their content.
We try to evaluate ideas before we determine where and how to publish them. We will consider submissions that contain only a short pitch, and we can help determine whether the idea should become a magazine feature, digital article, podcast, graphic, video, or another format. That said, there are some differences between the submission processes for HBR.org and the magazine.
Process notes for HBR.org
HBR.org covers both timely and timeless management topics, from new research to practical advice to essays on the modern workplace or on current events. It’s helpful if you send us a short pitch first so that we can give you early feedback, but we need to see a full draft before officially accepting a piece — even if we’ve asked you to write it, and even if you’ve written for us before. (If you don’t have a relationship with an HBR editor, you can send your pitch through Submittable .)
Process notes for the magazine
The evaluation process for long-form features in the magazine is more formal. It’s fine to send a pitch for a magazine feature to an editor, but if the idea is promising, eventually you’ll be asked to submit a formal proposal and narrative outline. The proposal should answer the following questions, though it doesn’t need to be in a Q&A format.
- What is the central message of the article you propose to write?
- What is important, useful, new, or counterintuitive about your idea?
- Why do managers need to know about it? How can your idea be applied today?
- What is the source of your authority? On what previous work (either your own or others’) does this idea build?
- What academic, professional, or personal experience will you draw on?
The narrative outline should be no more than 800 words and should lay out the structure of the proposed article. We want to understand how the logic of your argument will flow. We also want to understand what evidence you’ll provide for your argument. Please illustrate your points with real-world examples or provide one extended, detailed example. (If you don’t have a relationship with an HBR editor, you can send your pitch through Submittable .)
Thanks for considering working with us.
Maureen Hoch Editor, HBR.org
Amy Bernstein Editor, Harvard Business Review
Last updated: May 15, 2023
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Harvard Referencing: journal articles
Harvard Referencing: journal articles from Victoria University Library on Vimeo .
Basic format to reference journal articles
The basics of a Reference List entry for a journal article:
- Author or authors. The surname is followed by first initials.
- Year of publication of the article.
- Article title (in single inverted commas).
- Journal title (in italics).
- Volume of journal.
- Issue number of journal.
- Page range of article.
Example: Gray, L 2018, 'Exploring how and why young people use social networking sites', Educational Psychology in Practice , vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 175-194.
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Harvard University says it can't afford journal publishers' prices
Exasperated by rising subscription costs charged by academic publishers, Harvard University has encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls.
A memo from Harvard Library to the university's 2,100 teaching and research staff called for action after warning it could no longer afford the price hikes imposed by many large journal publishers, which bill the library around $3.5m a year.
The extraordinary move thrusts one of the world's wealthiest and most prestigious institutions into the centre of an increasingly fraught debate over access to the results of academic research, much of which is funded by the taxpayer.
The outcome of Harvard's decision to take on the publishers will be watched closely by major universities around the world and is likely to prompt others to follow suit.
The memo from Harvard's faculty advisory council said major publishers had created an "untenable situation" at the university by making scholarly interaction "fiscally unsustainable" and "academically restrictive", while drawing profits of 35% or more. Prices for online access to articles from two major publishers have increased 145% over the past six years, with some journals costing as much as $40,000, the memo said.
More than 10,000 academics have already joined a boycott of Elsevier , the huge Dutch publisher, in protest at its journal pricing and access policies. Many university libraries pay more than half of their journal budgets to the publishers Elsevier, Springer and Wiley.
Robert Darnton , director of Harvard Library told the Guardian: "I hope that other universities will take similar action. We all face the same paradox. We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labour at outrageous prices.
"The system is absurd, and it is inflicting terrible damage on libraries. One year's subscription to The Journal of Comparative Neurology costs the same as 300 monographs. We simply cannot go on paying the increase in subscription prices. In the long run, the answer will be open-access journal publishing, but we need concerted effort to reach that goal."
In traditional journal publishing, researchers submit articles to editors who send them out for peer review, a task that is usually unpaid. The final versions of the articles are then formatted and sold back to university libraries. Open access comes in various guises, but one model requires authors to pay to have their articles published and made freely available to anyone.
According to the Harvard memo, journal subscriptions are now so high that to continue them "would seriously erode collection efforts in many other areas, already compromised". The memo asks faculty members to encourage their professional organisations to take control of scholarly publishing, and to consider submitting their work to open access journals and resigning from editorial boards of journals that are not open access.
It adds that the library must insist on transparent contracts that prevent universities from discussing in public the fees they pay certain publishers.
In a statement to the Guardian, Elsevier said: "The Harvard Faculty Advisory Council letter does not specify any specific publisher. We have a good relationship with the Harvard libraries and have recently concluded an agreement we believe works for them as it gives them the flexibility to choose the titles they want.
"We do not believe that the facts in the letter which relate to price increases pertain to Elsevier. Elsevier's average print list price increases have consistently been among the lowest in the industry for the past several years, averaging around 5%."
The statement concluded: "We believe Harvard will continue to see the value in publishing in Elsevier journals, which include a range of access options, and contributing as editors."
David Prosser , executive director of Research Libraries UK (RLUK), said: "Harvard has one of the richest libraries in the world. If Harvard can't afford to purchase all the journals their researchers need, what hope do the rest of us have?
"There's always been a problem with this being seen as a library budget issue. The memo from Harvard makes clear that it's bigger than that. It's at the heart of education and research. If you can't get access to the literature, it hurts research."
RLUK negotiated new contracts with Elsevier and Wiley last year after the group threatened to cancel large subscriptions to the publishers. The new deal, organised on behalf of 30 member libraries, is expected to save UK institutions more than £20m.
"The better deals have given us a little breathing space, but they don't solve the problem. There is a long-term structural problem with this market that isn't going to be solved that simply," Prosser said.
Heather Joseph , executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a US-based international library membership organisation, said other universities may follow Harvard's lead.
"Highlighting the role of the faculty is exactly what we need to do. Libraries have been trying to ring the alarm bell about this for a while, but it's the faculty members who are the producers and consumers of the articles. They have got the keys to making significant change in this market. Having Harvard call this out in front of the faculty is a very significant move."
She added: "Other universities are likely to follow Harvard's example on this. If it starts at a university with the stature of Harvard, they will take a long hard look at whether this is something that makes sense for them to do as well. People watch Harvard. There's no grey area there."
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