Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous scientists on the planet and his books have been read by millions. Now, people have the chance to read his doctoral thesis, titled “Properties of expanding universe”.
The work, which he completed in 1966 at 24 years old, focused on the implication and consequences of having an expanding universe, a theory that back then was just a few decades old. Cambridge University has decided to release the early work of the physicist as part of Open Access Week. Open Access research can be viewed and read by all for free and without any restrictions.
“By making my PhD thesis Open Access, I hope to inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet; to wonder about our place in the universe and to try and make sense of the cosmos," Professor Hawking, now 75, said in a statement. "Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding.”
“Each generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before them, just as I did as a young Ph.D. student in Cambridge, inspired by the work of Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, and Albert Einstein," Hawking continued. "It’s wonderful to hear how many people have already shown an interest in downloading my thesis – hopefully they won’t be disappointed now that they finally have access to it!”
There are many in academia that disagree with Open Access and many universities don’t allow students’ thesis to be easily accessible. Recently, however, several universities have gone against this trend and the release of Professor Hawking’s thesis is part of this movement. From now on, all PhD students graduating from Cambridge will submit an electronic copy of their thesis and will be given the option to make it Open Access.
“Open Access enables research. By eliminating the barriers between people and knowledge we can realise new breakthroughs in all areas of science, medicine, and technology,” Dr Arthur Smith, Deputy Head of Scholarly Communication, explained in the statement. “It is especially important for disseminating the knowledge acquired during doctoral research studies. PhD theses contain a vast trove of untapped and unique information just waiting to be used, but which is often locked away from view and scrutiny.”
Cambridge is hoping that other former academics and alumni, which includes 98 Nobel affiliates, will also make their work available to all.