MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXI No. 4
March / April / May 2009
Should One Size Fit All?
Rethinking the Math Core
Tom Kochan New Faculty Chair
Distrust of Educational Innovations
Engineering Excellence in Challenging Times
Leadership Skills for Engineering and
Science Faculty
Interview with Director of MIT Medical
Dr. William Kettyle
Update on the Faculty Renewal Program
Newsletter Adds Two Board Members
The Moral Moment: Departing Words from
the Outgoing Faculty Chair
MIT Faculty Vote to Make Their Articles Openly Available
TA Training Bootcamp Reinforces Curriculum Innovations and Improves Recitation Experience in Freshman Chemistry Course
MIT Faculty Work/Life Website Created
MISTI Launches Call for Second Round of Global Seed Fund Proposals
Laughing Together
West Garage
Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Leadership Program: Developing Engineering Leaders of Tomorrow
The Need for Interdisciplinary Education
MIT 150 Exhibit to Celebrate Institute's
150th Birthday
The Federal Research Dollar
on the MIT Campus
The Future of Medical Care?
Printable Version

MIT Faculty Vote to Make Their Articles
Openly Available

Hal Abelson, Ann Wolpert

On March 18, 2009, MIT faculty at the Institute faculty meeting voted unanimously to make their scholarly articles openly available, the first university-wide faculty vote of its kind anywhere. The vote represented the culmination of a broadly deliberative process that began in June of 2008, when Bish Sanyal, Chair of the Faculty, charged a committee of faculty to explore how scholarly publications and research findings of MIT faculty can be best disseminated at a time of significant changes in communication technologies.
Over the course of many months the committee consulted widely with their faculty colleagues, considering both the structure and practices of the scholarly publishing industry, and the way scholarly research across a full range of disciplines is produced, contested, and disseminated. MIT has long been a leader in projects and initiatives that encourage the open sharing of knowledge, with the goal of advancing learning and education worldwide.

MIT's policy is the first faculty-driven, university-wide initiative of its kind in the United States. The new policy, which took immediate effect, emphasizes the commitment of MIT faculty to disseminating the fruits of their research and scholarship as widely as possible. This is important, because Committee members [Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Open-Access Publishing] heard repeatedly from their colleagues that publisher business models, which are built on restricted access, impede reuse and sharing of the scholarly record – in contradiction to MIT’s mission of rapid dissemination of science and scholarship.

In its considerations, the Committee drew upon the successful precedent of MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), which was launched in 2001 with the goal of making all MIT course materials available, free of charge, to anyone, over the World Wide Web. Since then, OCW has shared MIT course materials with more than 50 million visitors worldwide and inspired hundreds of other universities to do the same.

The new open-access resolution will remove barriers to making all of MIT's research openly available to the world using MIT's DSpace repository – an open-source, open-access repository launched in 2002 following a joint research project between the MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard. DSpace@MIT already contains digital research materials of MIT faculty and researchers, allowing such works to be saved, searched, and shared worldwide.

A key finding of the Committee’s investigations is that scholarly publishing has so far been based purely on contracts between publishers and individual faculty authors. In that system, faculty members and their institutions are powerless. This resolution changes that unequal relationship by creating a role in the publishing process for the faculty as a whole, not just as isolated individuals.

The implementation of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy is being overseen by the Faculty Committee on the Library System, and will evolve over the coming months. The policy applies only to scholarly articles completed after the policy was adopted on March 18, 2009. Procedures for submission to DSpace under this policy are still under development. For now, please contact Ellen Duranceau ( if you have a paper you want to submit.

A detailed FAQ is available to faculty at

Members of the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Open Access

Hal Abelson, Chair (EECS)
Ann J. Wolpert, Co-Chair (Director of Libraries)
Craig Carter (Materials Science) 
Brian Evans (EAPS)
Kai von Fintel (Linguistics & Philosophy)
Eric Klopfer (DUSP) 
Pauline Maier (History)
Oaz Nir (Graduate Student Council President)
Robert T. Sauer (Biology)
Lisa A. Steiner (Biology)
George N. Stiny (Architecture)
Eric von Hippel (Management)
JoAnne Yates (Management)

MIT Faculty Open-Access Policy

"The Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In keeping with that commitment, the Faculty adopts the following policy: Each Faculty member grants to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology nonexclusive permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination. In legal terms, each Faculty member grants to MIT a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same. The policy will apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Provost or Provost's designate will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs MIT of the reason.

To assist the Institute in distributing the scholarly articles, as of the date of publication, each Faculty member will make available an electronic copy of his or her final version of the article at no charge to a designated representative of the Provost's Office in appropriate formats (such as PDF) specified by the Provost's Office.

The Provost's Office will make the scholarly article available to the public in an open-access repository. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with the Faculty Committee on the Library System, will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Faculty. The policy is to take effect immediately; it will be reviewed after five years by the Faculty Policy Committee, with a report presented to the Faculty.

The faculty calls upon the Faculty Committee on the Library System to develop and monitor a plan for a service or mechanism that would render compliance with the policy as convenient for the faculty as possible."

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