Wikimedia Foundation endorses mandates for free access to publicly funded research

A photo from a 1973 London School of Economics appeal for funds for its library.

Scholarly information is often too expensive to access. Academic publishers sell journal subscriptions for thousands of dollars per journal per year. Typically, only universities and large libraries, not individuals, are able to pay those fees, which limits access to researchers and others affiliated with institutions with money.
Are these costs justifiable when the underlying research is publicly funded and the underlying goal is public knowledge? If you’re a taxpayer you’ve already paid to fund the research, so why should you pay essentially another tax to read the findings of that research?
On May 20, a team of longtime advocates for public access to scholarly information launched a campaign to urge U.S. President Barack Obama to “require free access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.” Opening up publicly-funded research will “provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research.”
This is consistent with Wikimedia’s non-profit mission “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.”
Click to view a video by SPARC on the Access2Research petition
Click to view a video by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition about the petition

Wikimedia project volunteers, who are among the taxpayers, should not be denied free access to this information. They should be empowered to read it, report on it, and cite it. Wikipedia and its sister projects depend on the energy and unselfish dedication of this team of contributors – volunteers, researchers, and amateurs – who read and investigate sources as they work to compile accurate, up-to-date, verifiable knowledge. Each month, hundreds of millions of global readers view, and have the opportunity to evaluate and contribute to Wikimedia content. Many do not have the means (nor should they be required) to pay for knowledge, including useful economic, health and scientific information when their taxes fund the research.
We believe in open access and free licensing as fundamental forces to disseminate knowledge, support education and accelerate discovery.
Today, the Wikimedia Foundation is endorsing this petition, joining thousands of individuals and organizations expressing support for free access to taxpayer-funded research articles. We hope you will join us, too—anyone over age 13 can sign (and you do not need to be a US citizen).
Please consider signing this petition to mandate that all research funded by U.S. taxpayers be made freely available to the citizens of the Web.
Dario Taraborelli, Senior Research Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation
Geoff Brigham, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation
Kat Walsh, Member of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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Many thanks for this valuable endorsement of the important Access2Research petition.
Please will you add a note to your text specifying that you do not need to be a US citizen to sign? International signatures are also welcome.

If research is publicly founded, it should be publicly shared. I fully subscribe Access2Research petition (from Madrid, Spain).

As a researcher I completely endorse this cause. Publishers are just making more and more money using publicly funded research ..

This is also applicable to the UK, where research is virtually impossible without affiliation to a university – and this will apply to former university lecturers when they leave their university too, excepting the small percentage of Emeritus professors who retain university status.
The present restrictions mean a huge loss of ideas, talent, employment and motivation on the part of the many scholars who are not only unfunded, but expected to pay ridiculous sums for every article they wish to view.
There needs to be an academic spring.

Publishers—CORPORATIONS that they are—should be precluded from gaming the system for their own private profiteering. Free access should be mandated for publicly funded research.

In the United States, virtually anyone employed by an educational institution indirectly receives taxpayer support from the federal government, as well as, in most cases, state and/or local support. Therefore, their research in the humanities similarly deserves open access.

[…] Source: Wikimedia […]

Many thanks to Wikimedia for endorsing free access to the public funded research. As a Convener of Open Access India, I congratulte Wikimedia for this endorsment.