Open Access Task Force Releases Final Report

Recommendations urge MIT to openly share the products of its teaching and research

This fall, the Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research released its final recommendations aimed at supporting and increasing the open sharing of MIT publications, data, software, and educational materials. The task force, convened by Provost Martin Schmidt in July 2017, was charged with exploring how MIT should update and revise its current open access policies to further the Institute’s mission. Over more than two years, task force members gathered input from experts across campus and beyond to better understand local, national, and global practices and policies related to open access. A draft set of recommendations was released in March for public comment, and this input was incorporated into the final report.

“MIT has long been committed to sharing its research openly with the world, because it has understood that new discoveries occur most often when we build on prior knowledge and make new and creative connections between facts, data, knowledge, and insights,” says Chris Bourg, co-chair of the OA task force along with Hal Abelson, Class of 1922 Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “As MIT enters a new era shaped by computing, openness is more critical than ever. Computational access to open collections of knowledge means that discovery can happen at a speed and a scale that most of us have yet to imagine.”

The final recommendations include ratifying an Institute-wide set of principles for open science and open scholarship. “The MIT community will affirm our collective commitment to the overarching principle that control of scholarship and its dissemination should reside with scholars and their institutions,” reads the report. If ratified, these principles would provide guidance for MIT departments, labs, and centers as well as individuals in making decisions about communicating and sharing their work and should provide the basis for Institute-wide negotiations with publishers. Additional recommendations include broadening the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy to cover all MIT authors; asking departments, labs, and centers to develop discipline-specific plans to encourage and support open sharing from their faculty, students, and staff; and appointing an implementation team to prioritize, shepherd, and support the recommendations. Read the full set of recommendations at