Among universities in the United States, Harvard has just increased its competitive edge by adopting a faculty resolution to grant the university a license to make faculty scholarship freely accessible online. (Funders and institutions elsewhere in the world are already on a roll, and a recent report from the European University Association recommends self-archiving in 791 European universities.) What are the competitive advantages?
1. There is reason to believe that the impact of, and citations to, Harvard scholarship will increase because it is freely accessible.
2. Harvard researchers will be able to use the rich archive of Harvard scholarship to experiment with for a variety of purposes, including developing new research tools.
3. Harvard librarians will get greater expertise than exists at competing institutions at developing, managing, and adding value to the university's digital library because they will have a regular flow of new scholarship to manage.
4. Young academics should be attracted to the institution as prospective faculty members, graduate students or other kinds of researchers for the signal that this initiative sends. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, at least, seems to get the Web.
Faculty at competitor institutions should take note. There's an early mover advantage to be had here. Who's next?