Web maintenance and archiving policy

Policy implemented in September 2022. Page last updated in April 2023.

Harvard Chan School strives to provide students, researchers, policymakers, journalists, and the general public with accurate information about our School’s activities and information about public health. In order to ensure that visitors to our site receive the most accurate information possible, it is our policy to archive and delete sites that are not actively maintained.

The Web Communications Working Group is responsible for identifying websites that are in violation of our website maintenance policy, and assisting site managers in planning for site retirements. It is vital that these sites be, archived when necessary, and then deleted so that they do not come up in search results and confuse site visitors with incorrect or outdated information.

The Center for the History of Medicine Archives and Records Management is responsible for “crawling” Harvard Chan School websites on a regular basis and retaining archival copies of those sites for future use by researchers.

Individual website editors are responsible for maintaining accurate content on each web page of their assigned website(s), and to inform the Web Communications Working Group (webteam@hsph.harvard.edu) when an entire website is no longer needed and should be archived and deleted.

The Web Communications Working Group also monitors all of the School’s websites, and the policies below outline the circumstances under which the Working Group would archive and delete a website.

Maintenance requirements for Harvard Chan School websites

For information about creating new websites, please review our web publishing policies.

Requests for exceptions to any of the following rules may be submitted to webteam@hsph.harvard.edu, and will be reviewed by the Web Governance Committee.

General rules

  • Websites must have at least two active editors at all times.
    • An active editor is someone with an active role at Harvard who has access to the WordPress administration of the website.
    • IT and Office of Communications staff do not count toward this requirement, nor do students.
    • We strongly recommend that at least one editor is a full-time, permanent staff member or academic appointee.
    • To request a change in website editors, email webteam@hsph.harvard.edu.
  • Websites must be associated with an existing department, center, or administrative office at the School.
    • For faculty-led projects, the faculty member’s department will suffice.
  • Websites must be kept up-to-date and error-free.
    • Outdated or inaccurate information should be corrected or taken offline as soon as it is identified.
    • Editors must review their site content on an annual basis, at minimum.
    • If a site is not edited for three consecutive years, the archiving process will begin.

Rules for faculty and lab websites

  • All of the School’s academic appointees receive an academic profile on our website.
    • These profiles can be updated through Harvard Catalyst Profiles. Some fields (such as title) are automatically updated, others must be manually updated by faculty and/or their designated proxies.
    • Profiles of appointees who leave the University will automatically be removed as soon as the academic appointment ends.
  • Only primary academic appointees are eligible, in addition to their academic profile, to have a faculty website or lab website that are hosted by the School.
    • Except in rare cases where large differences in site content and management necessitate two websites, each faculty member may maintain one website (typically either a site describing the faculty member’s achievements or the work of the faculty member’s lab). IT and Communications can support faculty members in planning an appropriate site map.
    • Emeritus faculty are not permitted to create new faculty or lab websites. When a faculty member attains emeritus status, their existing website will be archived.
  • When a faculty appointment ends, their website will be archived as quickly as possible using the following process:
    • IT will be notified that a faculty appointment has ended either through an off-boarding form from HR, a direct communication from the Office of Faculty Affairs, or a direct communication from a department administrator.
    • IT will reach out to the faculty member and any affiliated website editors to inform them of the impending site archiving and deletion process, and to offer support with exporting content or providing site URL redirects if needed.
    • IT will notify Archives and Records Management that a site is ready to be archived and give the team sufficient time to crawl the site.
    • Following this crawl, the site will be deleted. A backup version will be retained for six months.
    • NOTE: Departments and centers are responsible for reviewing their remaining website content to remove references to faculty appointments that are no longer active.

Rules for research studies, centers, initiatives, and programs

  • All research-related sites will be labeled as University-wide, School-wide, or departmental based on the definitions provided by or at the direction of the Office of the Dean.
    • On an annual basis, IT and Communications will provide the Office of the Dean and the Office of Research Strategy and Development with a list of existing University-wide and School-wide research-related sites for review. As a result of this review, either office may request to begin an archiving process for sites that are no longer needed.
    • On an annual basis, IT and Communications will provide each department with a list of affiliated research sites for review. As a result of this review, departments may request to begin an archiving process for sites that are no longer needed.
  • Additionally, beginning in September 2022, all research-related sites will be identified as “ongoing” or “time-limited.”
    • “Ongoing” sites will be required to follow the same “general” rules listed above.
    • “Time-limited” sites will be required to follow the general rules and will be regularly evaluated to determine whether they should be archived.
      • The cadence of this review will be determined prior to launch in collaboration with the Web Communications Working Group, and may vary based on the length of a grant, or the length of a pilot program.
      • Note: Time-limited sites are not eligible for site customization.
  • At the conclusion of a research study, the study site should be archived within 90 days, unless the Web Communications Working Group has agreed to an alternate plan prior to site launch.
    • Site editors should contact IT at the conclusion of the study.
    • Any conclusions or results of the study should be consolidated onto a single page, and shared on a departmental, center, or faculty website.

Rules for events (symposia, conferences, etc.)

All events should be added to the School events calendar or departmental/center/office calendars whenever appropriate.

  • One-time events should only be put on the School events calendar or a departmental/center/office calendar. They should not get their own websites or web pages.
  • Complex symposia or conferences may additionally get pages on the website of the department, center, or office hosting the event
  • Conferences and major events that are held annually may have their own websites.
    • The conference will have a single website with sub-sections for each year, rather than a new site every year.
    • Only conferences that are open to the public or to other institutions are eligible for websites.
    • As with all other sites, if the website is not updated after three consecutive years, the Web Communications Working Group will begin an archiving process.

Archiving process

  • Websites failing to meet the requirements above will be archived. There will be three warning emails over the course of three months before a site is archived:
    • An initial email from the Web Communications Working Group to site editors alerting them as to why their site is set to be archived, and the time frame to resolve any site issues and/or request an appeal.
    • A second warning will be sent to the editors if there is no response after one month.
    • A third warning will be sent the communications contact at the associated department, center, or administrative office after two months if there is no response.
    • If there has been no response after three months and the site still does not adhere to the maintenance requirements, the site will be archived.
  • IT will take the following steps when archiving a website:
    • Inform the Archives and Records Management team that a site is about to be deleted and give their team sufficient time to “crawl” (archive) the site’s content.
    • Remove the site so that it is no longer publicly visible or discoverable via search.
    • Retain a backup for twelve months that can be restored if needed, after which the site will be deleted.
    • When applicable, create a redirection from the site to an associated website.
    • Upon request, prepare a zip file export that can be re-imported in another WordPress website (or other systems that support WordPress imports).

Exceptions and appeals

  • Website editors and/or the communications contact at the associated department, center, or office may ask to appeal the decision to archive a site.
  • Appeals should be sent via email to the Web Communications Working Group (webteam@hsph.harvard.edu) with the following information:
    • Name, title, and affiliation of the person requesting the exception
    • Reason for the request
    • Are you requesting to retain the site as it is for archival/historical reasons, or do you plan to update the site at a later date?
    • When do you plan to make changes to the site?
    • When do you expect the site to be no longer needed?
  • Appeals will be reviewed by the Web Communications Working Group, with assistance from the Web Governance Committee when required.
  • In cases where an appeal is granted, a follow-up review of the website will be conducted by the Web Communications Working Group within three months.