DSpace@MIT communities and the benefits of open

An OA Week look at MIT's institutional repository

In celebration of International Open Access Week, we’re running a series of stories about open scholarship that prioritizes community-run publishing and infrastructure. Today’s piece is written by Sadie Roosa, collections strategist for repository services in the Libraries.

DSpace, the open source and open access digital repository co-created by MIT developers in 2002, is an integral part of MIT’s efforts to make its researchers’ own scholarship freely and openly available to anyone in the world. 

On May 9, 2002, staff from MIT’s Sociotechnical Systems Research Center deposited DSpace@MIT’s very first item, Global sourcing in the automotive supply chain:The case of Fiat Auto, part of the International Motor Vehicle Program collection. There are now more than 137,000 articles, working papers, reports, books, and theses in the repository, and more than 600 collections. 

The two largest DSpace communities are campus-wide and accept works from researchers across the Institute. The MIT Theses community is the largest with over 60,000 items, and is heavily used with over 10 million  item downloads. The Open Access Articles collection, which includes scholarly journal articles and conference papers, many of which deposited under MIT’s open access policies, is also very large (over 51,000 items) and is the most used collection with over 24 million item downloads.

Because articles in the OA collection have been published in journals, often behind a paywall, we can see benefits of having open access versions in DSpace by comparing downloads from our open repository with those on a publisher’s website. 

For example, one of the most downloaded articles in the OA collection is The thermophysical properties of seawater: A review of existing correlations and data: There have been 25,832 downloads from DSpace. The publisher’s site shows 692 full text views/downloads of the paywalled version. The article,  A direct path to dependable software has been downloaded 24,483 downloads from DSpace but only 3,738 from the publisher.

In addition to these campus-wide communities, many DLCs run their own spaces in DSpace. CSAIL, Sloan School of Management, Plasma Science and Fusion Center, MIT Sociotechnical Systems and Research Center, MIT OpenCourseWare, Department of Economics, and Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) each have over 1,000 items in their collections. There’s no fee for researchers to deposit their work into DSpace@MIT. 

Here are more stats and info about some DSpace@MIT communities: 

OA Articles


Faculty and Researchers


MIT Sloan

Dept of Economics


Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE)