Wikipedia founder joins forces with government to free up research

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is working with the government to help make taxpayer-funded academic research freely available to the public online.

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Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is working with the government to help make taxpayer-funded academic research freely available to the public online.

Wales is working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the UK research councils on plans to store and distribute the research. His contribution includes offering advice on the £2m Gateway to Research project, which is a website that will link to publicly-funded research across the web.

The move is seen as a challenge to the hold scientific publishers have on the research community, where researchers contribute papers to journals and then those publishers do not freely distribute the research unless large journal fees are paid by universities and other organisations.

Universities and science minister David Willetts is outlining the plans at a Publishers Association event today. It is hoped the scheme will be up and running within two years.

The demand for the scheme already has momentum as 11,000 researchers are supporting a boycott of journals owned by academic publisher Elsevier.

In the US, Harvard University is also encouraging faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals.

In advance of his Publishers Association address, Willetts told the Guardian newspaper: "Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly-funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration."