Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia, and OA in the UK

Stevan Harnad amsciforum at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 2 12:44:30 EDT 2012

On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 11:50 AM, Bosman, J.M. (Jeroen) <j.bosman at uu.nl> wrote:

> Dear Steven,
> Why so harsh on Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia, is it something personal? Is it really strange to ask  people behind a system that produces the most used informational website to assist? It seems to me that The wikipedia system is tremendously succesful in motivating people to share knowledge, whereas the OA movement has up to now relied on a lot of input and labour from libraries and has not really been succesful in mass motivation of scholars to share. And you are saying that the way forward is a system that denies scholars money unless they share. That must mean that the system itself is not very attractive.

Nothing personal in the least! I don't know Jimmy Wales and I use and
occasionally edit Wikipedia. My reaction is the same as if the UK
government had asked a successful advertising executive, media
executive, marketing executive, web exectutive, publishing executive,
etc. to advise on providing open access to peer reviewed research:

Is there anything about what they do and know that suggests that they
would understand peer review, peer-reviewed research, researchers,
research funding, publish-or-perish, research impact and OA, and what
needs to be done to induce the researchers to provide the OA?

And there's no denying that my own personal frustration is with the
fact that I believe -- and have given reasons -- that the problem is
with the implementation details of OA mandates, not with something one
needs a media or marketing executive to solve.

Apart from that, one of the (many) problems that have been delaying OA
is the tendency to think that the way to free peer-reviewed research
from access-tolls is to free it from peer review. And, this, I'm
afraid, is what the Wikipedia view might lead toward.

But I'm ready to be wrong: If JW manages to make himself well-informed
about the one real problem OA faces -- inducing researchers to provide
OA their peer-reviewed research -- and he comes up with a solution
that works, splendid!

(Just as good: if JW learns and agrees that the solution lies with
tweaking the implementation details of OA mandates, then he can serve
as a conduit from those who have been saying so all along, to those
who have not been ready to heed them, but are ready to heed JW!)

Stevan Harnad

> Op 2 mei 2012 om 17:21 heeft "Stevan Harnad" <harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK> het volgende geschreven:
>> Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>> http://web.utk.edu/~gwhitney/sigmetrics.html
>> On 2012-05-02, at 10:49 AM, Quentin Burrell wrote:
>>> List members might be interested in the following:
>>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/01/open-free-access-academic-research
>>> David Willetts is the UK Government's Minister of State for Universities and Science. (His nickname is "Two-Brains"!)
>> The UK government has engaged Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia to help make UK tax-payer-funded research available online for all.
>> Open Access to peer-reviewed research (OA) is an important, timely and even urgent goal, and the UK's commitment to providing OA is extremely welcome and commendable. But turning to Jimmy Wales to help make it happen makes almost as little sense as turning to Rupert Murdoch.
>> Wikipedia is based on the antithesis of peer review. Asking JW to help make sure peer-reviewed research is available to all is like asking McDonalds to help the UK Food Standards Agency make sure that wholesome food is available to all.
>> The way to make all taxpayer-funded academic research in Britain available online to all is already known: Make it a mandatory condition of funding that the fundees make it available online to all (OA).
>> Britain (RCUK) has already gone a long way toward trying to mnadate just that -- a much longer way than any other country so far. But there are still some crucial implementational details that need tweaking in order to make those mandates work:
>> 1. The requirement has to be to deposit in the fundee's institutional repository (rather than an institution-external repository).
>> 2. The deposit itself must be made immediately upon acceptance for publication (rather than only after a publisher embargo period).
>> That way the fundee's institution will be empowered to monitor and ensure compliance with the funder mandate. In addition, when there is an allowable publisher embargo on making the immediate-deposit OA immediately, the institution's email-eprint-request Button can tide over immediate research usage needs during the embargo on an automated, accelerated individual-request basis. Institutional deposit will also motivate institutions to mandate OA for all of their research output, not just the RCUK-funded portion.
>> But these are all implementational details that could be fixed by just updating the language of the RCUK mandates -- making it explicit that research that is not institutionally deposited immediately loses its funding. Each institution's research grant support office, already so solicitous about complying with all conditions on applying for, receiving and retaining grants will equally assiduously see to it that institutional fundees understand and comply.
>> But JW does not know any of this. And if he did, he would be no better able to implement it than anyone else. It's the implementation that's needed, to make the broth edible and available to all -- not more cooks (and especially not from McDonalds' kitchens)!
>> Stevan Harnad

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