Much to the displeasure of librarians and professors, Harvard Business School Publishing is pursuing a new strategy to increase revenue from Harvard Business Review articles assigned as course readings. Claiming that many schools have been avoiding proper licensing payments, on Aug. 1, the publisher began blocking full EBSCO access to the 500 most popular Harvard Business Review articles.
HBR articles, typically summaries of academic work written to be accessible to businesspeople, are a staple of most business school curricula. These articles have been available through the digital journal aggregator EBSCO since 2000, but in 2009, HBSP began seeking additional fees from some university libraries. They argued that EBSCO licenses are for academic research purposes only and do not cover the distribution of articles as course materials.
The new access restriction means that all business schools now face a choice: purchase a “course use” license at prices reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education to range from less than $10,000 to $200,000, purchase articles for course use individually under existing “umbrella plans,” or stop distributing the online version of HBR’s articles in their courses.
This shift has frustrated many schools and librarians, now forced to pay a higher price for a privilege they have enjoyed for more than a decade. Andy Spackman, chair of the business reference and services section of the American Library Association, said that the HBR policy violates not only academic norms but also industry norms for digital aggregators such as EBSCO.
“Such use and activity is normal in the internet age,” he said. “It’s irksome if a publisher tries to impose a definition of what constitutes normal library use, and it’s an ironic peculiarity that HBR would provide libraries with digital access to their content and then insist that professors should not direct students toward these articles.”
The ALA sponsored a task force to evaluate HBSP’s actions, and issued a statement that “[HBSP's] profit driven practices diverge from the intent of scholarly communication and impinge on higher education and libraries’ core social mission to preserve and make accessible records of scholarship.”
Kenny emphasized HBR’s unique purpose and the resources that it requires. “Unlike other academic journals, HBR editors work closely with authors to help them craft their ideas in ways that make sense to practitioners,” he said. “The EBSCO policy is essential to protect this long standing practice and thereby sustain HBR’s mission,” he said.
Several HBS professors declined to comment, citing respect for the thought their colleagues at HBSP put into decisions regarding EBSCO access.
The new practice has sparked much online debate, including a back-and-forth between Joshua Gans, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Das Narayandas, professor of business administration at HBS and senior associate dean for Harvard Business Publishing, who criticized each other’s statements in a series of Financial Times editorials.
The Crimson Made Fun of the Lampoon Before the Lampoon ExistedEvery Friday, The Crimson publishes a selection of articles that were printed in our pages in years past. March 27, 1874: Humorous Articles In reading over with care our college papers we find, as a general rule, that the various themes which meet our eyes apply directly or indirectly to college rules, college customs. This certainly ought to be expected, from the nature of these papers. I do not wish even to argue that this is not perfectly right; but I should like to call attention to the fact that a certain class of articles are not as a general rule popular, although their character might at first lead one to expect otherwise. I refer to humorous productions.
10 Questions with Rauan KenzhekhanulyRauan Kenzhekhanuly, a former fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, has transformed the Kazakh language version of Wikipedia from a site with just four active editors and 7,000 articles to a thriving community of 250 editors monitoring 170,000 entries. Next up for Kenzhekhanuly’s Kazakhstan-based WikiBilim Foundation: Kazakh Google Translate. FM rung up Kazakhstan on Skype to talk about post-Soviet pride, Internet trolls, and whether Harvard profs ought to consider Wikipedia a credible source already.