MIT Faculty Adopt Open Access Policy for Scholarly Articles

MIT's faculty members last week decided on a new policy to make all of their scholarly articles available free to the public online. Articles will be disseminated using an open source platform called DSpace, which was developed by the MIT Libraries and HP.

Faculty members voted unanimously to adopt the new policy, which is in effect now.

"The vote is a signal to the world that we speak in a unified voice; that what we value is the free flow of ideas," said Bish Sinyal, chair of the MIT faculty and the Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning, in a statement released recently by MIT's News Office.

According to MIT, this is the first initiative of its kind on this scale to be initiated by faculty and implemented through a faculty vote. The resolution is based on language adopted by Harvard's Faculty of Arts & Sciences in 2008. Under the policy, faculty members grant MIT permission to distribute their articles through DSpace, MIT's digital repository of research materials. MIT said it expects "potentially thousands of papers published by MIT faculty each year will be added to DSpace and made freely available on the web and accessible through search engines such as Google."

"Through this action, MIT faculty have shown great leadership in the promotion of free and open scholarly communication," said Ann Wolpert, MIT's director of libraries. "In the quest for higher profits, publishers have lost sight of the values of the academy. This will allow authors to advance research and education by making their research available to the world."

"Scholarly publishing has so far been based purely on contracts between publishers and individual faculty authors," said Hal Abelson, the Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and chair of the Ad-Hoc Faculty Committee on Open Access Publishing. "In that system, faculty members and their institutions are powerless. This resolution changes that by creating a role in the publishing process for the faculty as a whole, not just as isolated individuals."

MIT's implementation of DSpace, called DSpace at MIT, can be found here.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

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