Monday, March 23, 2009

Placing Research Online -- MIT

Thought this was of interest on today's Chronicle of Higher Education--

March 23, 2009

MIT Professors Approve Campuswide Policy to Publish Scholarly Articles Free Online

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for its ambitious effort to give away its course materials online, but now the university is giving away its research too.

Last week MIT’s professors voted unanimously to adopt a policy stating that all faculty members will deposit their scholarly research papers in a free online university repository (in addition to sending them to scholarly journals), in an effort to expand access to the university’s scholarship.

The policy is modeled on one adopted last year by Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. At MIT, as at Harvard, professors can opt out of the policy if, for instance, a journal accepts a faculty member’s paper but does not allow it to be published free.

Peter Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College and a longtime promoter of open access to scholarly publications, said the move was a sign of growing momentum for open-access policies. “It’s a strong signal that these measures have faculty support,” he said. “The more momentum there is for open access, the more it looks like a mainstream idea,” he added. “There’s no doubt that it started out as a fringe idea.”

He said that about 30 colleges and universities around the world have adopted similar open-access policies for their research, citing a list of such policies maintained by ePrints, a company that makes software for open-access archiving. Most of those institutions are in Europe, and many of the American colleges that have jumped in have adopted policies only in an individual school or department.

In the past, some publishers have expressed concern about universities’ open-access policies — especially some scholarly societies that publish journals and worry that giving away articles will undermine their ability to keep their publications afloat. —Jeffrey R. Young

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