News and notes
Wikimedia Foundation adopts open-access research policy
Wikimedia Foundation at last adopts open-access policy
Last week the WMF announced the release of its long-awaited open-access policy. In a statement on the Foundation's blog, executive director Lila Tretikov wrote that "Wikimedia is committed to nurturing open knowledge for all, unrestrained by cost barriers ... the Wikimedia movement has a longstanding commitment to open access practices. Today, we are excited to formalize that commitment with this policy."
Open access is a movement among researchers that was initially aimed at making research findings accessible to their colleagues, and now increasingly to the public. It evolved through the 1990s and early 2000s as scholars and scientists discovered the Web as a platform for communicating their findings. It became more formalized when the Budapest Open Access Initiative coined and defined the term. The Initiative sparked several follow-ups, among them the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, which was signed by several Wikimedia entities, including the Foundation.
Daniel Mietchen, an active researcher in data science and member of WikiProject Open Access, told the Signpost that while many researchers welcome open access in principle, the incentive structures in universities and other research institutions do not always make this an easy choice for their own publications. In response, research institutions, funding bodies, governments and other organizations have begun to modify the incentive landscape through open-access mandates. These mandates require that research findings from specific institutions or funded through specific programs be made available open access.
The Wikimedia movement as a whole has a long history of engagement with open access; in particular, the Foundation has been supporting interactions with the research community, be it through the Research Committee (which oversees the monthly Research Newsletter published as part of the Signpost), through support of the WikiSym/ OpenSym annual conference series, or through other forms of significant support. Initial work on an open-access policy was started in 2010, consolidated and presented at Wikimania in 2011, but never formalized into an actual policy; at the same time, open-access policies have continued to expand in reach and scope.
The Foundation has meanwhile continued to take increasingly strong stances on the issue. In 2011, the research committee put together a response to an EU public consultation on the nature of scientific information in the digital age. In 2012, it responded to a similar consultation by the White House. A few months later, the WMF moved to endorse a petition made to the White House by the public-access group Access2Research, asking for “free access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research” (Signpost coverage). In 2013, the White House responded with a directive that moves in this direction by requiring the largest public research funders in the US to develop taxpayer access policies similar to the NIH Public Access Policy that has been in effect since 2008. This policy development is still ongoing.
Open-access policies are particularly important in the context of the Wikimedia movement. Not only do members of the Wikimedia movement work to provide "open access to knowledge" for all of our readers—a goal complementary to that of the scholarly open-access movement—they directly benefit from the increasing transparency of journal publications for studying, sourcing and illustrating knowledge available through Wikimedia projects.
How scholarly articles available under an open license can be reused on Wikimedia projects, and how readers can be made aware of that reusability
Mietchen says that in this context, "the WMF’s open-access policy shows interesting deviations from standard features of its academic siblings:
- It covers not just publications, but associated data, software and multimedia;
- It stresses the importance of open licensing, which facilitates and broadens the scope of reuse;
- It is itself available under an open license, so it can easily be adapted (e.g. translated);
- It avoids embargo periods (which most other policies allow for), and instead allows for limited exceptions;
- The exceptions are to be documented in public, which helps to collect data on the necessity for exceptions and can inform later refinements of the policy."
By establishing its own open-access policy, the Foundation has put its cards on the table and strengthened the alignment of its own research initiatives with the open-access movement. Further details on what the new policy means for researchers interested in the Wikimedia projects are in the open-access policy FAQ.
Since that Wikimania session in 2011, there have been multiple meetings in the movement on open access (while one specifically on the new policy has been proposed for Wikimania 2015) as well as dozens of talks (e.g. here or here) and blog posts (e.g. here or here) on the interaction between Wikimedia and open access (further Signpost coverage is linked in the sidebar).
Providing access to research is not always straightforward, highlighted by the long history of the proposal for an open-access policy for research coordinated with the support of an organization as committed to open access as the WMF. This is illustrated by the annual discussions about the open-access status of the research presented at WikiSym, a conference that spurred important contributions to Wikipedia research (2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012).
The new WMF policy on access to WMF-supported research—with its emphasis on open licensing and the option of publicly justified exceptions—could act as a catalyst for bringing the research and Wikimedia communities closer together. It is likely to lead to greater accessibility to research findings for contributors and other users of Wikimedia platforms. R, T
New WMF board member announced
The Wikimedia Foundation this week announced the on-boarding of Guy Kawasaki to the Board of Trustees. Kawasaki replaces Bishakha Datta, who served from March 2010 to December 2014, in one of the four board seats reserved for "necessary expertise". In his introduction in the Foundation blog Kawasaki stated that "There are few projects in the history of the world that can have the long-term impact of Wikimedia ... the democratization of knowledge that Wikimedia stands for has been a long time in the coming, and I relish applying my passion and experience to this amazing mission." Executive director Lila Tretikov states that "Guy grasps what really moves people. His passion for extraordinary experiences is a perfect fit for Wikipedia’s remarkable mission."
The Board of Trustees is the WMF's "ultimate corporate authority"; as a new trustee, Kawasaki is now one of the ten people tasked with stewardship of the Wikimedia Foundation (and, through it, of the overall movement). Before his appointment to the Board, Kawasaki was chief evangelist for Canva, an online graphic design tool; he has formerly served as an adviser to Motorola and as a chief evangelist at Apple, where he "developed and popularized the concept of 'secular evangelism' for Apple’s brand, culture, and products". He has written ten books on the topics of business technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship, the first of which, The Macintosh Way, was published in 1989, and the most recent, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, late last year. Although the blog post provides little detail about why the Board chose Kawasaki, specifically, it is not hard to see what expertise Kawasaki, an extremely active social-media influencer (see, for instance, his LinkedIn roll or his Twitter), is meant to bring to the board: a recent Forbes story went so far as to call The Art of the Start 2.0, a refresh of a 2004 Kawasaki publication, "The New Entrepreneur's Bible". R
- Wikimedia Hackathon 2015: Registration is now open for the Wikimedia Hackathon 2015. The event, organized by Wikimedia France, is to take place in Lyon on May 23–25; the four current topical focuses are mobile applications, Wikidata, MediaWiki, and Wikimedia Labs development. As of writing, the event had 50 attendees, among them members of the Foundation's and various affiliates' technical personnel. Topics to be covered are under discussion at the phabricator, and to "help newcomers mingle", the hackathon is experimenting with buddy pairing. This event is likely to be one of the largest such hackathons organized independently of Wikimania 2015 this year. R
- Wikimedia for children?: French Wikimedian User:Astirmays has organized an excerpt of last month's strategic planning community consultation, re-igniting a discussion as to the possibility and practicability of a Wikimedia project "for kids". Such a wiki has been proposed on and off for some time: the record of the most recent efforts, including the 2013 nomination and subsequent withdrawal of independently organized Vikidia, is preserved at Wikikids on the meta-wiki, indicating a proposal history stretching back all the way to 2003 (Signpost coverage of the strategic planning consultation). R
- Wikimedia Netherlands chapter report: Wikimedia Nederland last week released their chapter report for January–February 2015. Highlights include January's awarding of the Erasmus Prize (see Signpost coverage), an education program translation project pilot, a gendergap editathon with Dutch feminist magazine Opzij, and the uploading of more than 2,500 high-resolution photos to Commons from the Museum Catharijneconvent. R
- Entire book one of The Well-Tempered Clavier on Wikimedia Commons: The Open Well-Tempered Clavier is a Kickstarter-funded project to release a copyright-free recording, score, and braille edition of the first of two books of Johann Sebastian Bach's eponymous harpsichord works (here played on piano). The recordings, by Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka, were posted online this month. The FLAC files were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Amire80 and are available in Category:Open Well-Tempered Clavier. Their previous project was Open Goldberg Variations, a similar release of Bach's work in 2012, also available on Commons at Category:Open Goldberg Variations. G
- Wikimedian in Residence in Scotland: Sara Thomas became Wikimedian in Residence at the Museums Galleries Scotland this week, making her the second such resident in Scotland—the first, Ally Crockford, is currently in residence at the National Library of Scotland. The UK has a long history in the GLAM program: the very first Wikimedian in residence, Liam Wyatt, completed a residency at the British Museum back in 2010 (Signpost coverage). For more on the GLAM initiative, see the GLAM newsletter. R
- Wiki Education Foundation monthly report: The Wiki Education Foundation have released their monthly report. The highlights, directly from their blog, are: a partnership signed with the National Women’s Studies Association, Association for Psychological Science, and the Communication across the Curriculum initiative at Louisiana State University; foundational planning work on new digital coursework infrastructure, funded with a $300K grant from the Stanton Foundation; and the launching of Wiki Ed's first student pilot program at University of California Berkeley, the University of Arizona, and Oregon State University. R
- SUL notifications trigger project milestones: A number of projects passed milestones on March 18 this week, mostly as a function of the mass-messaging of users affected by the upcoming SUL finalization process (coverage in last week's report). The Finnish Wikipedia has reached 1,000,000 total pages, the Finnish Wikibooks has reached 10,000 total pages, the Spanish Wikiversity has reached 10,000 total pages and 100,000 page edits, and—perhaps most impressively—the Moldovan Wikipedia has reached 10,000 page edits, despite having been closed to regular editing since 2006. The Armenian Wikipedia reached 150,000 articles this week in a metric uninflated by SUL, and the French Wikivoyage hit 5,000. R
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