Scholarly access to all | Harvard Gazette
"Never heard of Svalbard and Jan Mayen? Join the club. These Norse islands in the remote Arctic Ocean are among the few places in the world with no recorded downloads from Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH), the free and open repository for peer-reviewed literature written by Harvard faculty. With more than 20,000 items in storage, DASH is growing quickly. Since it started in 2009, the articles and dissertations in its repository have been downloaded more than 3.4 million times. DASH shows the increasing attraction of digital access to information. In May, the number of downloads was twice the number of items loaned or renewed by Harvard’s libraries, said repository manager Colin Lukens. In the same month, he said, DASH downloads exceeded the number of requests made through HOLLIS, the open-to-all platform for Harvard Library system inquiries. 'The curve is up,' said Peter Suber, director of the Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC), which administers DASH. That curve will only continue to rise, he said, bringing more global exposure for faculty work to users inside and outside the academy. 'We’re sharing Harvard research with everybody with an Internet connection,' he said, 'not just with the people lucky enough to be affiliated with libraries rich enough to subscribe to the journals in which those authors publish.' Students of every stripe use DASH, as do teachers at community colleges, independent scholars, researchers from library-poor countries, medical patients, and legions of the merely curious. 'Academics have underestimated the non-academic demand for their work,' said Suber, who is also director of the Harvard Open Access Project and a faculty fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. When the National Institutes of Health (NIH) changed PubMed, its sourcing website for biomedical research citations, to open-access, the number of users 'went up a hundredfold,' said Suber. 'It shows the volume of unmet demand.' And when the NIH introduced PubMed Central, a full-text, open-access research portal, 40 percent of its users came from domains unrelated to schools. University libraries can’t afford to subscribe to every journal, whose prices have been skyrocketing for years. Even the richest institutions 'can’t afford to subscribe to everything their faculty and students need,' said Suber. 'Academics don’t have enough access. Nobody has enough access.' Being able to download academic literature more easily creates a universe of happy users, whose voices are increasingly heard. In the last two years, DASH has allowed users to leave comments behind, and the OSC receives about five a day ..."