MIT Press Publishes First Open Access Journal

Posted November 21st, 2006 by Ellen Duranceau

On October 25, the MIT Press announced that it is publishing its first Open Access journal: Information Technologies and International Development (ITID) .

Laura Esterly, Journals Marketing Manager, summarized this significant development: “Now you can retrieve peer-reviewed full text PDF articles from the journal’s website free of charge, from any location with internet access.”

Convergence of Content, Mission, and Access Model

ITID’s focus on the intersection of information and communication technologies with international development offers a particular congruence with the open access approach. Although the open access model was not considered for the journal initially when launched in 2003, according to Rebecca McLeod, Journals Manager for the MIT Press, “the idea began to develop and take shape soon after the first volume was published. The journal’s core mission – to create a global network for the discussion of critical issues of information and communication technologies and international development – made it an ideal candidate for open access.”

This idea gained urgency, McLeod notes, when the Press realized that even after they established a special discounted rate for low-income developing countries, “it wasn’t low enough to attract the number of readers and authors outside the developed world that the Press and its editors had anticipated when the journal was first launched.”

Sponsorship as a Business Model to Support Open Access

When considering how to move Information Technologies and International Development from a subscription-based journal to an open access journal, The MIT Press saw few options other than sponsorship. Some open access titles are supported by fees requested when an author submits an article, which are often paid by research grants or the author’s institution. But according to McLeod, this model was not workable for ITID, for “the same global audience that made ITID perfect for open access also made it impossible to support the journal through funding from author fees.” Too many of their potential authors would have found fees a barrier to publication.

Once the MIT Press decided to work with a sponsorship model, they solicited funds from foundations and corporations. “The funding from Microsoft was the first to materialize,” notes McLeod. Microsoft’s sponsorship will support the publication of volume 3.

Increasing Visibility, Readership, and Submissions Through Open Access

For now, ITID will remain MIT Press’ only open access journal. As an open access title, “ITID’s content, mission, contributors, and readers will all be well supported by its free online availability,” according to MIT Press Director Ellen Faran. This will allow the journal to increase visibility, readership, and submissions, meeting the editors’ goal of “solicit[ing] the participation of individuals who might benefit from the research and proposals put forth by scholars, researchers, and practitioners around the globe, independent of location or financial means.”

For more information on open access publication, see the MIT Libraries’ Frequently Asked Questions: Open Access,
or contact copyright-lib@mit.edu.

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