September 1, 2009. Harvard's leadership in open access to scholarship took a significant step forward this week with the public launch of DASH—or Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard—a University-wide, open-access repository. More than 350 members of the Harvard research community, including over a third of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, have jointly deposited hundreds of scholarly works in DASH.
"DASH is meant to promote openness in general," stated Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library. "It will make the current scholarship of Harvard's faculty freely available everywhere in the world, just as the digitization of the books in Harvard's library will make learning accumulated since 1638 accessible worldwide. Taken together, these and other projects represent a commitment by Harvard to share its intellectual wealth."
Visitors to DASH (http://dash.harvard.edu) can locate, read, and use some of the most up-to-the minute scholarship that Harvard has to offer. DASH users can read "Anticipating One's Troubles: The Costs and Benefits of Negative Expectations" by Harvard College Professor Dan Gilbert. Markus Meister, Jeff C. Tarr Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, weighs in with "LED Arrays as Cost-Effective and Efficient Light Sources for Widefield Microscopy," while Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow asks "After Brown: What Would Martin Luther King Say?"
From Abu Ghraib to zooarchaeology, from American literature to the Zeeman effect, more than 1,500 items can be located in DASH today, with the number increasing every week. As vital as the repository is to current work, DASH also houses a growing number of retrospective articles and papers. Contributors include Harvard President Drew Faust and University professors Robert Darnton, Peter Galison, Stanley Hoffman, Barry Mazur, Stephen Owen, Amartya Sen, Irwin Shapiro, Helen Vendler, and George Whitesides.
DASH has its roots in the February 2008 open-access vote in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In a unanimous decision, FAS adopted a policy stating that
Each Faculty member grants to the President and Fellows of Harvard College permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. In legal terms, the permission granted by each Faculty member is a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit.
In addition, faculty members committed to providing copies of their manuscripts for distribution, which the DASH repository now enables. Authored by Stuart M. Shieber, James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science and director of the Office for Scholarly Communication, the policy marked a groundbreaking shift from simply encouraging scholars to consider open access to creating a pro-open-access policy with an "opt out" clause.
"It's the best university policy anywhere," said Peter Suber of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in Washington, DC, and a fellow of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center and the University's Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC). "It shifts the default so Harvard faculty must make their work openly available unless they opt out. The default at most universities is the other way around: you have to choose open access and arrange for all the provisions."
To date, Harvard Law School, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education have joined FAS in supporting a comprehensive policy of open access. DASH fulfills the promise made in these four open-access votes.
Still a beta, DASH is a joint project of the OSC and the Office for Information Systems (OIS), both of which are strategic programs of the Harvard University Library. DASH is based on the open-source DSpace repository platform. Software customizations will continue throughout the coming academic year.
DASH is also intended to serve as a local digital home for a wide and growing array of other scholarly content produced at the University. Non-faculty researchers and students are already afforded deposit privileges, and DASH will eventually have collection spaces for each of the 10 schools at Harvard.
In discussing the DASH deposits made by HLS faculty, John Palfrey, Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources and Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law, commented, "I am pleased to see so many of our HLS faculty represented in DASH. Our library staff have been working hard to coordinate these efforts, and we expect participation and contributions to grow significantly during the fall 2009 semester."
Added Shieber, "We've made strong progress over the private beta period of the last few months in simplifying and integrating procedures for faculty depositing their work in DASH and in engaging the faculty in that process. Although we still have a long way to go in terms of faculty education, coverage of Harvard scholarship, and DASH enhancements, we decided to make the DASH beta public to provide open access to its holdings, where possible, and to invite those outside the Harvard community in as beta testers of our repository. We welcome any feedback."
Among the many features the DASH development team has added to its DSpace implementation is the ability to link directly from a faculty author's name in DASH search results to his or her entry in Profiles, a research social networking site developed by Harvard Catalyst. Profiles, which provides a comprehensive view of a researcher's publications and connections within the University research community, currently indexes faculty from the medical and public health schools; its developers hope to expand it to include the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the near future.
"Our long-term growth strategy for DASH is to integrate it so fully into other faculty tools that self-archiving just becomes second nature. When a Harvard author is updating their profile or the CV on their personal web site, upload-to-DASH will be there, and vice versa. All these loci for sharing information about publications will eventually synchronize with one another. This includes tools that store bibliographic information only, as well as those that provide open access to full text, such as the established subject repositories already used by many of our faculty to disseminate their work. Ultimately, DASH aims to provide as comprehensive and open a view of Harvard research as possible."