In a move that will disseminate faculty research and scholarship as broadly as possible, the Harvard Law School faculty unanimously voted last week to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available online for free, making HLS the first law school to commit to a mandatory open access policy.
Under the new policy, HLS will make articles authored by faculty members available in an online repository, whose contents would be searchable and available to other services such as Google Scholar. Authors can also legally distribute the articles on their own websites, and educators here and elsewhere can freely provide the articles to students, so long as the materials are not used for profit.
If more schools of higher education do this, then we may have some hope of bridging the research-practice divide. Practitioners do not have the funds or the time to subscribe to expensive academic journals and the proprietary databases required to search them. Most researchers spend precious little time alongside schoolteachers, and when they do, it’s primarily to collect information, not share wisdom. What if teachers could Google for research studies that inform their practice? What if teachers set a standard for themselves to ground their pedagogical strategies in research? Yum.