Musings on the Research Works Act, Open Access pledges and Wikimedia

Over on Foundation-l, an interesting thread has been developing today on the Research Works Act, Open Access pledges and any potential role therein for Wikimedia. I just posted some thoughts on the matter, quoted in full below the fold.

  I think that skipping non-OA sources is not a valid option, though encouragement of the use of relevant OA sources is. One way to achieve that could be by highlighting the “OA-ness” of cited references, as is now common practice in the Research section of the Signpost (most recent example: ). So far, this flagging is done manually, but at least for publishers that use the same Creative Commons license for all the articles they publish, it would be easy to modify citation templates like to include the OA icon for all DOIs belonging to the prefixes listed at . Things get a bit more complicated on the journal level, especially in the case of hybrid OA journals, in which some articles are OA, others not, and even the OA ones may be under different licenses. What else can we do? Well, the usual stuff: assessing and improving existing articles around OA and starting new ones, or putting OA materials to new uses. has recently been started with precisely these goals. We can also highlight content that we reuse from OA sources, as per , or we can see to OA-related topics or files being more systematically considered for the various options of featuring. As for any other article, the entries on and should strive to neutrally state the facts – they speak for themselves. That said, I am certainly supportive of closer interaction between the OA and Wikimedia communities – not by chance one of the core aspects of my Wikimedian in Residence project ( ). Such interaction can take place in multiple ways, e.g. via an Open-Access policy of the Foundation (currently being developed by RCOM at ),  via removal of weasel words in , via collaboration with scholarly journals (e.g. as per ), via translation of OA-related articles (cf. ), or by mutually showcasing OA an wiki matters at wiki and OA events (e.g. as per or ) . With regards to boycotting Elsevier, I do not think that would easily fall within the mission of the Foundation (or even individual chapters), but of course, individual Wikimedians are free to join. I haven’t joined the anti-Elsevier pledge and have no intention to do so anytime soon, for two main reasons: – Elsevier is neither the only nor the fiercest opponent of Open Access, just the biggest one – I have already signed a (rather moderate) Open Access pledge last year (cf. ) and a more strict one last month (cf. ). In both cases, it applies to all non-OA publishing rather than just one publisher, and in the latter case, I specifically mention compatibility with reuse on Wikipedia as a criterion for me to get involved. Stressing the reuse aspects of OA is an area that I can well imagine being championed by the Wikimedia community or by the Foundation: Much of Gold OA is reusable on Wikipedia (e.g. all PLoS or Hindawi journals but not Nature Communications or Scientific Reports, nor Living Reviews or Scholarpedia), some of Green OA (e.g. all of Nature Precedings, some of arXive, though not visibly so) and basically nothing of traditionally published materials (exceptions being the odd human genome paper released directly into the Public Domain). It is thus not surprinsing to see that a ranking of publishers by number of pages on Wikimedia Commons that mention one of their DOIs sees several OA publishers ahead of Elsevier and other large non-OA publishers (cf. ; prototype; loads slowly and is not entirely up to date). I am involved in work on a tool that automatically uploads to Commons audio and video files from suitably licensed OA articles (cf. ). OA publishers – namely PLoS – have been pushing the idea of openly tracking the reuse of scholarly materials (cf. ), and on-wiki reuse is one of the components of interest currently being worked on (cf. ).
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