Wikimedia Foundation adopts Open Access Policy to support free knowledge

The black and white photo shows someone turning the pages of a research textbook
Open access scholarship is central to Wikimedia’s mission to empower people around the world to participate in knowledge creation. This image was used by the London School of Economics in its 1973 appeal for funds for its library. Photo by London School of Economics and Political Science’s Library, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

This post was originally published on the Wikimedia Foundation blog by Dario Tarborelli and Yana Welinder. Re-published under CC-BY 3.0 unported

The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to making knowledge of all forms freely available to the world. Beginning today, our new Open Access Policy will ensure that all research work produced with support from the Wikimedia Foundation will be openly available to the public and reusable on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. We are pleased to announce this new policy at the 18th ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2015).

“Wikimedia is committed to nurturing open knowledge for all, unrestrained by cost barriers,” said Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “The Wikimedia movement has a longstanding commitment to open access practices. Today, we are excited to formalize that commitment with this policy.”

Over the past decade Wikipedia has been the subject of hundreds of academic studies on topics such as flu forecasting, the influence of major global languages, and Wikipedia’s own geographic imbalances. The Wikimedia Foundation has made this research possible through a commitment to making Wikipedia’s data open and accessible.

Open access scholarship is central to Wikimedia’s mission to empower people around the world to participate in knowledge creation. Access to these open sources is critical to ensuring that articles on Wikipedia are reliable, accurate, and reflect our ever-evolving understanding of the world. Paywalls and copyright restrictions too often prevent the use of academic research in this effort.

Our new Open Access Policy builds on previous efforts led by the Research Committee, members of WikiProject Open Access, and the Foundation’s grantmaking team. It will ensure that all research the Wikimedia Foundation supports through grants, equipment, or research collaboration is made widely accessible and reusable. Research, data, and code developed through these collaborations will be made available in Open Access venues and under a free license, in keeping with the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to support free knowledge. The policy sets guiding principles that govern future collaborations between researchers and the Foundation, we wrote a set of frequently asked questions to provide guidance and best practices on the applicability of the policy.

Heather Joseph, the executive director of SPARC, an international open access coalition of research libraries, commented on the policy launch: “The Wikimedia Foundation continues to lead by example in its efforts to democratize access to knowledge. By adopting an Open Access policy to make all outputs of the research that it supports freely accessible and fully useable to the public, the Foundation will help speed the pace of discovery and innovation around the globe.”

The Wikimedia Foundation is proud to join the growing ranks of leading institutions with open access policies.

Dario Taraborelli, Senior Research Scientist, Wikimedia Foundation
Yana Welinder, Senior Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

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