Readers Share Their Stories: Comments on Open Access Articles

Since July, 2012, we have been soliciting stories from individuals who download papers from the Open Access Articles Collection in DSpace@MIT, which contains articles made available under the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy. Every story matters, and we encourage you to share yours with us.

Here is a sampling of the stories we have received:

“I am grateful for making your online information resources freely accessible. I am a graduate student of labour studies and have greatly benefited from your noble generosity.” –Graduate student, Uganda

“[I am] a disabled engineer researching gravity and inertia… My research is hampered by one thing alone, paywalls.” –Private researcher, Australia

“I am most thankful to MIT for freely sharing so many articles, for this attitude not only helps scientific knowledge to be disseminated across the globe,” but it also “inspire[s] those students who, like myself, do not have a chance of paying for many of these publications. MIT is not only sharing knowledge, it is helping those in need on the pursuing of their dreams.” –Undergraduate student, Brazil

“Your material is precious, thank you very much.” –Doctor and master’s degree student, Italy

We “can each make more progress on our own, and collaborate together, more effectively thanks to the [open] availability of a critical article…” –Open source developer and researcher, US

“Science is about the progress of human knowledge. It should not be about paying a publishing company, especially now that computer storage and networking is, incrementally, of infinitesimal cost.” –University researcher, Canada

“US institutions traditionally have open access policies that attest to a vigorous academic climate – much to be envied.” Retired geological engineer, Canada

“And one more opportunity: Open Access Articles. This helps me a lot in getting back to intense research now, when the kids have reached school age. Thank you very much!” –Researcher, US

“I appreciate this access … As a retired professor, access would be harder otherwise, and probably not attempted.” –Retired professor, researcher, US

“[It] was incredibly helpful to be able to read [the article] and share it with others at work during a discussion of how our company was addressing gender inequalities through performance bonuses and ‘objective’ pay awards.” –Employee, US

“I am an independent researcher from a third world country not affiliated to any university or a company. Thus I neither have access to paid journals nor I can afford them. MIT’s Open Access is something I love and rely upon…Thank you again for thinking about the unfortunates and keeping the information free and open.” –Independent researcher, Nepal

“I am extremely grateful to the MIT faculty for allowing individuals like me to get access to such valuable resources.” –unemployed engineer, preparing for interviews, US

“My wife was diagnosed with [lung cancer]. As her husband and caregiver, I try to do everything I can to make her journey easier, and everything I can to create a full recovery for her. Part of that is arming myself with EVERY bit of knowledge I can gather about her cancer. Your resources allow a non-medical, non-academic, like myself access to this invaluable and leading edge data. I cannot THANK YOU enough.” — Reader, US

“Thanks a lot, :D. I live in India and its really disheartening when a site asks for money to display their research work. This initiative will …. accelerate research in the emerging nations. Thanking you –” — Student, India

“I am a high school public forum debater. The topic this month involves nuclear proliferation…Last weekend, I lost my finals round because I didn’t have the answers to a particular argument. This week, because of this [MIT open access article], I have exactly what I need. My next tournament starts tomorrow- and because of this information, I feel much more prepared for it. Thank you for keeping knowledge accessible to all!” — High school student, US

“I work in a small but growing humanities department in the Baltic, with limited institutional resources.Your implementation of open access enables me to design curriculums that include publications by MIT staff that we would otherwise not have access to: enhancing the learning experience of our students, introducing them to the work of scholars on the cutting edge… ” –Faculty, Estonia

“Thank you for this article. It was useful in my 5th grade report about on space. I chose to research Kepler 3b (HAT-P-11b). I had searched online a long time to find the composition of this planet. I did not understand most of the article, but it (with my Dad’s help) helped me understand why I could not find this information easily. Now, I know that these planets have many unknowns including their composition.” — Fifth grade student, US

“I’m attempting to hire and fund research in energy production. I have a lot of trouble getting to the bottom of scientific understanding due to the publishing industry pay-walls. MIT’s effort to make good science that the public helped pay for be available to the public has helped me a lot building the clean energy economy.” –Researcher, US

“I want to provide my students with a good selection of relevant papers on systems biology modeling … as I am teaching in an international curriculum, my students appreciate very much when I select …documents made available open access. In their home countries, open access is the prime route for scientific (scholarly) information…. So, thanks to you, colleagues, also in the name of my students. As a scientific advisor to the German National Library of Medicine I am a strong supporter of open access and I am happy to see that MIT is one of the front runners in the community effort to make scientific information as freely available as possible.” –Faculty researcher, Germany

“Thanks for your cooperation. It is of a great help in our research on air pollution in Peru” — Reader, Peru

“Students in developing countries, such as myself, often lack the resources to access articles available on paid sites…or lack library affiliations necessary to access articles….This initiative by MIT greatly benefits students such as myself by providing access to relevant material from a highly reputed institute. The result is an increase in the quality of our knowledge and research, and in the credibility of our papers. I truly appreciate the generosity of MIT and hope that other institutes and universities will follow your example. Hopefully, this could lead to the emergence of an open network of knowledge-sharing…” –Student, Pakistan

“I’m currently applying for a Phd position and this open access article is essential for my proposal.” –Student. Brazil

“I work and do my phd in a small institute and even though its connected to a quite big university its often hard for me to find certain papers. So thank you for providing this service. Blessings” — Student, Czech Republic

“Thank you very much! This will be really helpful for my master’s thesis work! ..Research needs to be shared, otherwise how are we expecting the knowledge to spread and for our ideas to grow?” –Student, Canada

“I am studying for my exam and this helps met to understand more about the great depression and the great recession! Thanks :-)” –Student, Norway

“I am a retired engineer doing independent research and teaching courses on airborne radar to engineers…Having open access to articles such as this is extremely important.” — Retired engineer, US

“Access …speeds up my progress investigating any particular topic…” — Retired meteorologist, US

“I am in-between post-docs and I am having difficulty obtaining journal access. I would like to learn about [a particular research area]…..I might have a reasonably good idea…but my background in this area is weak…Having access to journals is very helpful. Thank you.” –Post-doc, US

“For a small, publicly funded …media like the one I direct…finding and gaining access to academic knowledge on [a middle eastern country] can be quite time-consuming and often very expensive. Thank you for making this and other documents available so that the many outside the small circle of knowledge can benefit from academic research.” –Reader in exile from middle eastern country

“I am all in for this open access movement. It is very important that you have an open access policy!” — College student, US

“I work in science but I do not have access to journals. Thank you very much for making your work available.” — Science student, US

“I find really useful this article for my research. It address a challenging mathematical problem … It has conferred a new inspiration for a new step in my Phd.” — Researcher, Spain

“The information contained in this article may help me to design an experiment.” — Researcher, Poland

“I don’t have access to many articles due to … sanctions. … I really appreciate this policy of MIT that helped me a lot.” — Researcher, Middle East

“[This access] is extremely beneficial to all who a have exploring mind.” — Researcher, US

“I am an independent researcher, with no current academic affiliation. I am writing a book which involves researching topological quantum neural computing. Open access made this article easily available to me. … Thank you for making science freely available to all!” — Scientific journalist, US

“I’m a research assistant and part of a project working to develop a haptic interaction system for learning, targeting visually impaired students. The article provided good information regarding analysis of gestures, gesture patterns, and significant of gesture-type motions. … access to this article enabled a counterpoint, or different perspective in which to understand how physical motion is significant related to information representation, a very important topic for the visually impaired.”— Student and Researcher, US

“I am a graduate student in Economics and having open access means I can more quickly and easily access articles that I would like to read so that I have better background knowledge of recent research in my process of doing research of my own. In countries like Bangladesh getting access to [paid] sites…is difficult on many levels, so open access definitely helps students who would like to read about research work.” –Student, Bangladesh

“Thank you very much! This will be really helpful for my master’s thesis work! I love seeing open access articles. Research needs to be shared, otherwise how are we expecting the knowledge to spread and for our ideas to grow? This is a wonderful idea, and I hope that I will see more groups doing this in the future!” — Student, Canada

“When doing research on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, I could see but not access many of the germane papers through my high school access. Luckily, googling the paper I needed … revealed to me that MIT allowed me to read the paper for free. Thanks, MIT Faculty!”
— Student, Jamaica

“I am studying for my exam and this helps met to understand more about the great depression and the great recession! Thanks:-)” — Student, Norway

“I’m currently applying for a Phd position and this open access article is essential for my proposal.” — Student, Brazil

“I have a full time job entirely unrelated to film studies, but occasionally write academic papers for publishing. I cannot gain access to closed articles through my work, I have no student access and am not in a financial position to pay for each individual article on the off chance that it may be of use to me. I rely on open access archives like this to be able to continue with what is essentially a hobby for me, and appreciate very much that these resources enable me to do so. Thank you very much!” — Reader, UK

“MIT’s open access helps us use the best science!” — Non-profit communicator, US

“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 it may seem. I found a very insightful article that took me to a new level of inspiration. I look forward to making my own contributions.” — Student, US

“The article I’m reading directly impacts my [global climate] research… The information in this article is very important for me because it indicates that there is a way to generate a more accurate age model for ferromanganese crusts.” — Student, UK

“I really love this open access paper. It opened my mind beyond the talking points of the day.” — Student, US

“Thank you for the Open Access. I am currently doing research on the mixing and pumping of UHSB’s (Ultra High Strength Backfills) for the ultra-deep mines we have here in Johannesburg and surrounds, in South Africa.” — Researcher, South Africa

“I work in a small but growing humanities department in the Baltic, with limited institutional resources. Your implementation of open access enables me to design curriculums that include publications by MIT staff that we would otherwise not have access to: enhancing the learning experience of our students, introducing them to the work of scholars on the cutting edge of the discipline and contributing a few years down the line to a whole crop of fresh-faced scholars who will cite these works in their own publications. Thank you!” — Researcher, Estonia

“I wrote one of the earliest histories of artificial intelligence… Now I’m writing a memoir of those early days, but I very much need to catch up on new ideas. Thanks for making this available.” — Author, US

“…thank you for this opportunity to learn.” — Librarian, US

“I am an associate professor at the University of Puerto Rico … We have scarce library resources, so it is difficult for me and my students to do research. Currently, I am teaching a semantics course, and some interesting problems regarding NegDP have come up in class, particularly the impossibility of binding a pronoun to NegDP. While [..the] article doesn’t address this issue directly, the discussion on scope of NegDP is pertinent and helpful. Thanks for making it available.” — Faculty, Puerto Rico

“Thanks for making articles freely available. This helps all of us better understand our world and learn how to make better decisions in our daily lives through greater access to information.” –Member of the public

“This [access] changes everything. We live in a time when bureaucracy is the impediment to knowledge, technology and equity more than ever before.” –Autodidact, India

“I am thrilled anytime I see that an important piece of work has already been made open by MIT. Thank you” – Researcher, US

“Thank you! This is a huge benefit for a US-trained scientist like me currently working in a 3rd world country.” -Researcher, Philippines

“I’m a Mexican University student with a dream… Thank u so much for shar[ing] the information!!” – Student, Mexico

“With MIT free access, I can learn more and be a better human being.” — Corporate researcher, Malaysia

“I greatly appreciate the access to your research. It’s very frustrating to find most papers behind paywalls, even when the research was supported by tax dollars.” – Corporate researcher, US

“Working in Qatar, I do not have access to much mathematical material. It is great to be able to use your services. Many thanks.” — Faculty/researcher, Qatar

“I’m a psychiatrist in private practice and have been developing a neurobiological model of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) used in the treatment of psychological trauma – PTSD….Open Access means that a regular guy who has internet access may be able to make a useful contribution. Thank you.” — Private practice psychiatrist, US

“I am an Argentine economist, who lives in Argentina and teaches and researches at a public university. Open access for us is the difference between access and no access at all. Open access democratises access to academic research around the world. Many thanks.” — Economist, Argentina.

“I am a South Africa Australian based in rural Kenya with a background in education and community development. I am considering writing a thesis around the relationship between free primary education and social cohesion with a focus on school governance. As I have not yet enrolled, this free access resource is a fantastic benefit for me.” — Potential student, Kenya.

“Thank you for sharing. Open Access is the future!” — Student, Netherlands

“Access to this article benefits me … It makes human knowledge go forward. That is why sharing is so good.” — University faculty/researcher, Czech Republic.

“As a layman to climate sciences, with some background, but not working anymore in academic fields (aka retired) ;) Open Access is great help to stay informed first hand. Thank you all.” — Retired, Switzerland.

“I am starting up a medical technology company. Open access to technical literature is extraordinarily useful to unaffiliated people.” — Entrepreneur, US.

“I am a Ph.D. engineer at a U.S. telecommunications company. Having open access to research articles greatly enhances my ability to develop new products for the worldwide market. Thanks for providing access.” — Engineer, US.

“I’ve read an article for my assignment at the university. I always found MIT to be the leading university that supports public access to information.” — Student, Turkey.

“This has really helped me from Nigeria, learn about the kind of research that is carried out in Ivy league schools like MIT. I’m able to read about Professor Techet’s interesting work on cavity dynamics.” — Student, Nigeria

“Tuition increases … have locked me out of continuing my formal education at [a university in the US]. So now I just find interesting courses at universities around the country, request copies of the related syllabi, and complete the readings independently. Open access to journal articles facilitates this and it must be protected and expanded. …Recreational education should be promoted across the nation. We can simultaneously develop a nation of lifelong learners and offer intellectual development as an alternative to the consumption oriented activities that are currently destroying the planet.” –Student, US

“I am a phd student and this article is important to my research. My university does not have access to very recent…articles. Making this article publicly available has helped me move my research forward.” — Student, US

“Thanks for making this article freely available to all. It allowed me to verify information on the Wikipedia “Woodpeckers” article, even though I don’t have access to a library that has the journal in question.” –Occasional Wikipedia editor and fact-checker, US

“I am a current PhD candidate in finance. Open Access materials have been an integral part of my dissertation.” — Student, US

“I simply have an ‘armchair’ interest in science, & enjoy reading various papers I discover…Very few papers I encounter are open access. I wish to thank you — and all open access supporters — for providing this service, both to science and the public. Thank you!” — Interested member of the public, US

“I have a PhD in math, and have picked up on the theory of machine-learning, but have had a hard time finding source material on how these algorithms might be applied in the banking industry. The high cost of computer science journal articles has definitely been an obstacle in my research.” — Corporate researcher, US

“I am a biological consultant involved in developing land management plans. I will read this article to retain competency for my profession. I am concerned about the reduction in native grasses due to competition from non-native grasses and this article may provide helpful insights regarding land management practices.” — Biological consultant, US

“Open Access is important if we want to generate knowledge that’s not elitist.” — Student, Germany

“As an autistic adult… I am always interested in the latest research that may give me more insight into what goes on between the outside world and my perception / response to it.” — anonymous

“I’m privileged to cite this paper…Thanks for making this paper freely available!” — Researcher/Inventor, US

“Wow – thank you – this is an amazing initiative.” — Researcher, New Zealand

“[These papers] have been invaluable.  Many thanks.” — PhD candidate, UK

“Making the article freely available makes it much easier to read the article and incorporate lessons learned into my work. Thanks for making it freely available!” — Research engineer, industry

“Wife of 45 years recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, so as primary caregiver I’m trying to get up to speed on managing her condition as quickly as possible.” — Primary caregiver, US

“Being a retired academic, but still active I rely on open access material, as I don’t now have access to journals, for licencing reasons,and it is far too expensive to purchase copies on-line. There are two reasons for this. Firstly the volume of material that one needs to access is large. Secondly, one cannot be absolutely certain of wishing to study a particular paper in until one has browsed it, as abstracts don’t always give a clear enough indication. So one would rapidly incur a substantial expenditure. … It’s also very irritating, having provided services as an author and referee to these scientific journals free of charge not to be able to gain access, to say nothing of the public expenditure that enables the content to be created.” — Retired mathematician, UK

“Thank you for sharing this article. I am doing my master’s thesis related to the topic (investment decision making in widening distribution network for natural gas vehicles), and this was the only place where I could I find the access!” — Student, Finland

“I intend to use this article in my literature review in my thesis proposal. Thank you for making it available.” — Graduate student, US

“I would have given up trying to read and cite this article if not for the Open Access initiative.” — Student, US

“I work on a diversity team inside my small business unit of a multi-national conglomeration. … I am dedicated to the hiring, retention and development of female engineers in my predominantly male-dominated organization. I found a link to this paper’s abstract on an Atlantic article and I was immediately excited: this had been the EXACT argument I had made to our male R&D Leader.” — Superintendent, Plant Operations for a corporation, US

“My intention is to help other young mexican students to continue working hard for the development of technology in Mexico. My job is to teach physics and subjects related to electrical engineering in [a] university. I am so greatful you gave me the opportunity to learn more about this subject. Thank you very much, because of this I can provide food and lodge to my wife and to my sons.” — Professor, basic physics and electrical engineering, Mexico

“Thank you for having made this article available with an open access!  I’m a PhD admitted candidate in Italy and I’m doing research on the economics of patents market.”  — PhD candidate, Italy

“This greatly benefits me. I’m a workforce analyst that needs to understand and use this key piece of research in the literature, but work for a state agency that doesn’t have the greatest library resources. Thank you, MIT, for this vital service.” — workforce analyst for state government, US

“Thanks a million for openly sharing the articles and their datasets. …  Living in Pakistan… my greatest handicap was regarding [access to] data. That changed when I (accidently) learned about the open access policy of MIT. I was desperately looking for some historical data on population. … Reading the fascinating research that is being done in my area of interest, and especially having the opportunity to access all the datasets has enormously helped me in my research. It is a blessing indeed. Thanks again.” — University researcher, Pakistan

“I recently graduated with a B.A. in economics, and I hope to gain admission to graduate school in the coming year. Lacking an academic affiliation, I often find it difficult to access the articles that I need to continue my engagement with economic theory. MIT has helped me immensely.” — Prospective Graduate Student, US

“I thank MIT and the authors for sharing this article.” — Technical Professional, Singapore

“I’m writing a research paper for school…. I just wanted to write to thank you for this article.” —  College Student, US

“I am a hobbyist who is interested in the engineering and concepts of APM Systems….Thank you for sharing this article.” — Hobbyist and Automation Professional, US

“I’m a young researcher from Guatemala who has been asked by a national TV channel to talk about climate change and hurricanes in an interview. Having access to this highly relevant article gave me the chance to prepare for the interview and provide the most science-based information. Thanks!!” — Director, Research Institute, Guatemala

“[J]ust a thanks. I would wish all education and all material free in this world. And by letting the greater public access your articles openly you promote education in the world. Thanks.” — University researcher, Australia

“I [was] looking for automotive articles … for all papers i have to pay and this make the investigation too espensive.” — Student, Colombia

“My institution has no subscription to the journal…” — Senior Scientist, Russia

“Thank you very much for making your articles openly available. I regularly read papers from the CSAIL and greatly appreciate the easy access to these papers.” –– University researcher, France

“I’m indeed very grateful for the availability of this article.” — Individual with Tramautic Brain Injury

“I am a PhD student at a rather big university in Germany and even here we don’t have access to all relevant papers we need to produce relevant and impactful research… If one imagines the situation at smaller universities or universities in less fortunate countries it is clear that the current publishing model is detrimental to the open spirit which underlies rigorous scientific advancement. I sincerely thank the MIT faculty for providing open access to their work and hope that open access will become the norm in scientific publishing.” — PhD Student, Germany

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