Stephen Hawking's dissertation crashes its website

As soon as Cambridge University posted legendary physicist's Stephen Hawking's doctoral thesis online, reader demand crashed the website, Susan Svrluga reports for Washington Post.

The thesis, "Properties of Expanding Universes," had about 60,000 downloads in the first 24 hours, says Stuart Roberts, the deputy head of research communications at Cambridge. Other popular theses on the university's open-access digital library only garner 100 downloads per month, Roberts adds.

In the push to make academic work more accessible, Cambridge is encouraging doctoral students to make their work open-access, Svrlgua writes. Freely available research will help inspire and inform other scholars, says Arthur Smith, deputy head of scholarly communication at the university.

How well do you communicate the value of research through your website?

Before Hawking agreed to make his thesis open access, interested readers had to pay an $85 fee for a copy, Bill Chappell notes for NPR.

Hawking says he'd like his thesis to inspire people to "wonder about our place in the universe" and give the next generation of thinkers another shoulder to stand on. In response to his paper's popularity, Hawking says he hopes people "won't be disappointed" once they can actually access it (Svrluga, Washington Post, 10/25; Chappell, NPR, 10/25).

Related: Characteristics of the 21st-century library


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