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Spotlight: MIT announces framework to guide negotiations with publishers

Principle-based framework aims to support the needs of scholars, reflect MIT principles, and advance science.

The MIT Libraries, together with the MIT Committee on the Library System and the Ad Hoc Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, announced that it has developed a principle-based framework to guide negotiations with scholarly publishers. The framework emerges directly from the core principles for open science and open scholarship articulated in the recommendations of the Task Force on Open Access to MIT’s Research, which released its final report to the MIT community on Oct. 17.

The framework affirms the overarching principle that control of scholarship and its dissemination should reside with scholars and their institutions. It aims to ensure that scholarly research outputs are openly and equitably available to the broadest possible audience, while also providing valued services to the MIT community.

“The value of scholarly content primarily comes from researchers, authors, and peer reviewers — the people who are creating knowledge and reviewing and improving it,” says Roger Levy, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences and chair of the Committee on the Library System. “We think authors should have considerable rights to their own intellectual outputs.”

In MIT’s model, institutions and scholars maintain the rights to share their work openly via institutional repositories, and publishers are paid for the services valued by authors and readers, such as curation and peer-review management.

“The MIT Framework gives us a starting point for imagining journals as a service,” says Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries.

The framework was developed by members of the Open Access Task Force, the Committee on the Library System, and MIT Libraries staff, and vetted by faculty groups across the Institute.

“The ideas in the framework are not new for MIT, which has been a leader in sharing its knowledge with the world,” says Bourg. “This is a clear articulation by the MIT faculty of what they want in scholarly communications — a scholar-led, open, and equitable environment that promises to advance knowledge and its applications. It is also a model that we think will be appealing for a diverse range of scholarly institutions, from private research-intensive universities like MIT to small liberal arts colleges and large public universities.”

“The six core principles of the MIT Framework free researchers and research institutions to follow their own lights in sharing their research, and help ensure that scholarly communities will retain control of scholarly communication,” says Peter Suber, director of the Harvard University Library Office for Scholarly Communication.

While MIT intends to rely on this framework as a guide for relationships with publishers regardless of the actions of any peer institutions or other organizations, institutions ranging from large research universities to liberal arts colleges have decided to endorse the framework in recognition of its potential to advance open scholarship and the public good.

“The MIT Framework values the labor and rights of authors, while respecting a role for journals and publishers,” says Janelle Wertzberger, assistant dean and director of scholarly communications at Gettysburg College. “It balances author rights with user benefits by ensuring that published research will reach the widest possible audience. This approach aims to realign the current publishing system with the needs of all stakeholders within the system, and thereby creates positive change for all.”

A full list of endorsers is available at Additional institutions are also invited to add their endorsement on this page.

MIT originally passed its Faculty Open Access Policy in 2009; it was one of the first in the country and the first to be adopted university-wide. Today close to 50 percent of MIT faculty-authored journal articles are freely available in DSpace@MIT, the Institute’s repository.