Understand that this post is being written by a Dartmouth man, but in truth this topic has little to do with either school. A better question would be, do you believe in open access to knowledge?
Some background: a few technical societies such as the IEEE and ASME control technical research publishing. Even if an engineer contributes a research article at no charge to one of these organizations (the norm), the publishers in turn charge a HUGE subscription cost for something they received for free.
Why Harvard? An article in Time Magazine notes that Harvard now spends $3.75 million per year on subscriptions to research journals. The Guardian explains: "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"
Why a Hypocrite? Ever wonder how much money Harvard yields from the Harvard Business Review? In the same news release about the cost of journals, Harvard did not offer lower prices for the Harvard Business Review.
Conclusion: I agree with Harvard and their faculty, but it would be nice if they followed their own advice! The concept of open access is not new, and many good sources exist to support this initiative including the Creative Commons, the Internet Archive, and the Directory of Open Access Journals.
Ultimately, we need institutions like Harvard to take the lead and "just say no" to publishers. It is reasonable to receive a fee for compiling research, but the cost has become to high. Quoting from Time and the Harvard memo: "some journals cost the school up to $40,000 every year, with the two top publishers increasing the price of content 145% over the last six years".
I actually have personal experience with this issue. About ten years ago I worked at turning my company's physical technical library into a resource which might be used globally via the web. The prices which the technical societies and services demanded were exhorbitant. In my case, I invited the vendors in one by one, and explained how we needed more reasonable pricing. In one instance I ended a business relationship with a quality vendor. One year later when they came back with a more realistic bid, we recontracted for the services.
My work experience showed playing hardball was required. We all need to take the Harvard approach. I just wish Harvard would also lower their price for HBR and set a good example.
If you have research, please submit your work via open access. Thank you.
In closing a view of the Dartmouth Library ... better Green than Crimson!