WIKIPEDIA founder Jimmy Wales is to take part in a British Government initiative to make all taxpayer-funded research in Britain freely available online.
The scheme is set to be announced in a speech to the Publishers Association today by universities and science minister David Willetts.
It comes in the wake of a growing campaign for open access in academic publishing, as cash-strapped universities face millions of pounds’ costs each year to subscribe to research journals.
Mr Willetts wrote in a newspaper: “Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the very forefront of open research.”
Mr Wales was brought in earlier this year to become an adviser on how Whitehall could make policy decisions more transparent, and will now advise on a project to set up a gateway to publicly-funded research on the web.
Mr Willetts wrote in the Guardian: “Jimmy Wales can make sure that we maximise the collaborative potential, the added value from that portal.
“Wikipedia has become a crucial part of our cultural landscape and having the advice from the person who created Wikipedia as we embark on this big project will be incredibly helpful.”
In the longer term, Mr Wales is expected to help set up a new generation of open-access platforms for British researchers.
A Government source told the Guardian: “He’s also going to be advising us on the format in which academic papers should be published and data standards.
“One of the big opportunities is, right now, a journal article might be published but the underlying data isn’t and we want to move into a world where the data is published alongside an article in an open format, available free of charge.”