The thank-you note arrived with language echoing the voices of many other readers of MIT Open Access Articles: "I thought I would show my appreciation for the open access that MIT affords. Many projects and papers require access to cutting-edge studies and articles. Many of these are unfortunately stuck behind paywalls. Having access to these types of information has helped me succeed."
But the author of the note may not be who you'd expect: it was a graduate student at an American university. Reader comments sent to the MIT Libraries make clear that while many beneficiaries of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy come from developing nations, where institutions and individuals can afford fewer resources, a growing number come from the United States, where even well-funded colleges and universities are increasingly forced to limit access to journals in order to make ends meet. Scholarly journals can cost more than $10,000 a year and subscription prices continue to rise, leading to cancelations and reduced access.
U.S. students, even those associated with a university, therefore have much to gain from open access. As one astrophysics student recently wrote: "While doing preliminary research, I stumbled upon one of your articles. The articles not only provided me insight, but also directed my further searches, leading me on different paths than I had considered, and considerably expediting the process."
Another student commented that "Thanks to MIT Open Access, I was able to read a high-quality document on a subject in which there has been very little research. I discovered that I'm not alone in my research interests, however esoteric some of [them] may seem. I found a very insightful article that took me to a new level of inspiration."
In the last six months alone, MIT heard from artists, engineers, independent researchers, and authors who all made similar comments: They felt excluded from scholarly research becaU.S.e of article costs, and the articles they found and read in DSpace@MIT gave them the opportunity to, as they wrote, "catch up on new ideas," "open my mind beyond the talking points of the day," or "find further research."
Readers also gain personally, including one individual who used a DSpace@MIT article as a resource for medical information. He wrote that he began to think about bone elasticity as being implicated in a fracture he had recently sustained: "The article assisted me in understanding the role of collagen in bone growth and renewal and, in turn, led me to further research into dietary modifications that I can implement."
The words of grateful readers — whether in the U.S. or beyond — reflect and consummate the faculty's commitment to "disseminating the fruits of [their] research as widely as possible." As one reader wrote: "It is wonderful to have the chance to go straight to the source and learn something about how knowledge is produced at the best places."
Learn more about open access efforts during International Open Access Week, Oct. 21-25. Attend sessions organized by the Libraries' Office of Scholarly Publishing & Licensing, including a panel discU.S.sion on "New Frontiers in Open Access Publishing" on Oct. 22 (which is cosponsored by the MIT Faculty Open Access Working Group), or stop by the "Right to Research" table in Lobby 10 on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from noon - 4 p.m.