MIT faculty voted unanimously this spring to make their scholarly articles available free online. Under the new policy–the first faculty-driven, university-wide initiative of its kind in the United States–faculty authors give MIT nonexclusive permission to disseminate their journal articles for open access through DSpace, the open-source software platform developed by the MIT libraries and Hewlett-Packard. Authors may opt out on a paper-by-paper basis. “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, then chair of the MIT faculty. Today, authors of scholarly works are required to transfer all or most of their rights to publishers, who limit access to the works through licensing and charge universities increasingly high subscription rates for journals.
“Through this action, MIT faculty have shown great leadership in the promotion of free and open scholarly communication,” says MIT’s director of libraries, Ann Wolpert. “This will allow authors to advance research and education by making their research available to the world.”