Just happy to report that last week I was in a university down south
helping several university faculty with their research activities. My
role is simple, make their research output map aware. After 4 days of
informal workshops we were able to collect data, transform them into
maps and relate these information into their respective research which
range from the natural science, social science and engineering domain.
One of the great dataset we were able to utilize is the tremendous
detail of OSM data in their research areas. While road data is not
the main dataset they are interested in. The availability of this
data allowed us to focus on the other data needed and use OSM as
complement in various forms. Either as baselayer for a webmap, a
reference for geocoding raster images, a timeshot for understanding
urban expansion and landcover changes. I will give more details once
these projects gets into public release (you know how the academe
works :) ).
Another important note is that prior to being a user of the data these
faculties are first and foremost contributors and supporters of OSM
 so they are aware of the spirit and motivations of OSM.
My personal advise to anyone interested in using OSM in their own
projects (either for fun or profit), be a contributor first. ;)