Wikipedia:WikiProject Open Access/Signalling OA-ness/Proposal

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This page is a wikified version of the proposal by Wikimedia Deutschland that has been approved for funding by the Open Society Foundations. A report on the project is being drafted here.

Executive summary[edit]

Cited sources form an integral part of both scholarly communication and Wikipedia. They are meant to support statements made in the citing articles and invite readers to dive deeper into the subject at hand. Enhancing the accessibility of cited sources thus contributes to the educational mission of the Wikimedia community. Many sources, however, are not accessible to the average Wikipedia reader due to paywalls in front of them, and many of those that are free to read can not be freely reused. For scholarly articles, a system that provides article-level licensing information is currently being developed by DOAJ and CrossRef. This resource could be tapped for signalling the openness of references cited on Wikipedia. It is the aim of this project to provide the technical infrastructure that would enable that, and to engage the Wikimedia and Open Access communities towards implementing it.

The project’s homepage is located at

Purpose of the grant[edit]

The budget requested in this proposal will be used to fund a new project aimed at implementing a standards-compliant system of signalling accessibility and reuse information for scholarly references cited on the English Wikipedia. The project is not part of any ongoing or past activities of Wikimedia Deutschland and has technical, community engagement as well as design components.

Core objectives and activities[edit]

The proposed project is about signaling to users of Wikipedia the openness of scholarly knowledge resources cited therein, so as to save the users clicks that would lead them to paywalls, to facilitate the reuse of cited sources that are openly licensed, to make Wikipedia readers and editors more aware of such materials and to generally raise awareness of the value of open knowledge in the context of scholarly communication. This fully aligns with the mission of Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., which is to support the creation, curation and reuse of open knowledge, particularly in the context of Wikipedia and the other projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

As a natural part of its wider engagement in support of access to knowledge, Wikimedia Deutschland is committed to supporting Open Access to the scholarly literature. In 2006, it was the first Wikimedia entity to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access (the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Polska followed in 2007), and it has since repeatedly taken concrete steps in support of Open Access. For instance, it was a grant from Wikimedia Deutschland’s Wissenswert initiative in 2011 that allowed for work on the Open Access Media Importer to start—a project that recently won one of the inaugural Accelerating Science Awards for highlighting the value of reusing Open Access materials in the context of Wikimedia projects. Wikimedia Deutschland is a member of the research network “Science 2.0” of the Leibniz Association, which allows to involve researchers, librarians and other professional users of Wikipedia and Open Access materials throughout the project.

Each Wikipedia has its community of users decide on content matters. The proposed signalling of the openness of cited references would fall under this category, and any moves towards a wider adoption of the signalling system will thus require sustained and comprehensive engagement with the user community, in addition to a functional prototype. Likewise, it is important that the system adopted for Wikipedia be compatible with similar systems developed elsewhere, and efforts will thus be made to cooperate with others working on similar issues, and to introduce Wikipedia as a use case into discussions of standards for signalling licensing metadata.

Specifically, the NISO Working Group on Open Access Metadata and Indicators (NISO-OAMI) are developing recommendations on how to signal licensing information for scholarly publications. A draft of the recommendations is expected to be released later this year. In coordination with the Working Group, we would like to implement a NISO-OAMI-compliant system on Wikipedia, so that Wikipedia readers and editors are informed in a standard fashion about what usage rights they have regarding references cited on Wikipedia — specifically, whether they are allowed to read, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the cited sources, as per the BOAI-10 recommendations. We will likewise pay attention to existing standards for machine-readable licensing information, particularly the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language (REL) and ONIX Publications Licenses (ONIX-PL), as well as the Open Citation project.

The proposed project will thus have a strong component of engagement with the Wikimedia and Open Access communities around a core activity of software development. This community engagement will take mainly two forms — on-wiki interactions and webinars, in which issues like the following will be discussed in a way that informs design decisions for the software development:

  1. What kinds of references should have such signalling? Only scholarly ones?
  2. What kind of information should be signaled? Just CC BY compatibility or also free to read? How does the OA button fit in?
  3. What icons to use?
  4. Which topics should have such signaling? Only those within the scope of some scientific WikiProject? What about media from arXiv, PMC and other repositories that do not have consistent licensing?
  5. What about getting other sites to signal the same thing in the same way?
  6. What would be useful pilots to start with? WikiProject Medicine? WikiProject Tree of Life?
  7. What permissions and precise tasks should the license signalling bot get?

For planning purposes, the project has been designed with the following default assumptions (which are subject to community approval):

  • The signalling of licensing shall be limited to terms compatible with CC BY.
  • The availability of a copy on Wikimedia servers shall be signaled.
  • All suitably licensed references in the 100 most viewed medical articles on the English Wikipedia shall be annotated with licensing information.
  • 50 articles in areas other than medicine (including science, social science and humanities) shall be annotated in the same fashion.
  • The signalling of non-accessibility of a source will be integrated with the OA button initiative.
  • Some design work on icons may be necessary if existing ones cannot be used.

A number of technical issues have to be resolved timely in conjunction with the community-forming process, including

  1. How to display article-level licensing information? In citation templates?
  2. Where to get article-level licensing data?
  3. Where to store article-level licensing information at the Wikimedia end? All in Wikidata? If not, how to ensure machine readability?
  4. Should the license signalling be integrated with Citation bot?
  5. Should the signalling be at the article level right from the start or perhaps (as a pilot) on the level of DOI prefixes only?
  6. How can the system interact with the OA button project?
  7. What kinds of apps could be developed on top of such an article-level licensing infrastructure? E.g. in combination with BaGLAMa/ GLAMorous?

Again for planning purposes, the project has been designed with the following additional assumptions (which do not depend solely on the project team):

  • An initial dataset with article-level licensing information from a small number of Open Access publishers will be supplied to CrossRef by CottageLabs by the end of 2013.
  • Article-level licensing information will become routinely available from CrossRef by March 2014 in a standard format for a broad range of publishers.
  • A bot developed in this project can harvest that information and expose it on the English Wikipedia by May 2014, along with other citation metadata.
  • The second bot—which could in effect be a new task for the existing Open Access Media Importer Bot—can import suitably licensed scholarly articles into Wikimedia Commons (if only PDF is available) or Wikisource (if it can be converted to Wiki markup) by July 2014, ignoring supplementary files other than audio and video.
  • A potential third bot—which could be a new task for the first—will handle interaction with the OA button database.

The webinars will have two main functions:

  1. Support decision-making within the community.
  2. Once a decision has been made, support outreach on practical implications (“how to”) and to a wider audience.

Further means of community engagement will be

  • An in-person meetup of the people involved in the project, organized as a satellite event of a broader event with a Wikimedia or Open Knowledge scope.
  • Travel to thematically related events organized by Wikimedia or Open Access or standards communities, in order to present the project.


  • Several aspects of the project can be considered successes if achieved:
  1. A technical infrastructure that actually allows to signal licensing information about cited references on any one Wikipedia and can be used on any other Wikipedia or even on other websites with little modification.
  2. Reaching the goal of signalling license information about the references cited in the 100 most viewed medical articles and of the 50 non-medical articles on the English Wikipedia.
  3. Consensus within and across different Wikimedia communities about the implementation of such a system.
  4. Consensus within the Open Access community about the implementation of such a system.
  5. Compliance of the system with applicable standards (such as NISO-OAMI).
  • Given the short timeframe, points 4 and 5 may not be achievable within the duration of the project, but the project may in turn facilitate progress in these areas.


As one of the oldest and most active Wikimedia chapters, Wikimedia Deutschland has contributed significantly to raising public awareness about free and open knowledge more generally as well as about Wikipedia in particular. It was instrumental in the planning, development and launch of Wikidata, the first Wikimedia project that started off with support from a Wikimedia chapter rather than the Wikimedia Foundation. It has also long supported the Toolserver, a key component of the technical infrastructure around Wikimedia projects until the current transition to Wikimedia Labs.

Daniel Mietchen is an active researcher and Wikimedian who served as Wikimedian in Residence on Open Science at the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany from 2011 until 2013. He was instrumental in the development of WikiProject Open Access and in the design of technical infrastructure around it, e.g. the Open Access Media Importer.

Funding and sustainability[edit]

Wikimedia Deutschland’s revenues are almost entirely donations from individuals (1.52 Mio. € so far in 2013). It is one chapter of the Wikimedia movement. Worldwide, more than 30 such chapters exist. The largest and primary entity within the Wikimedia community is the Wikimedia Foundation, located in San Francisco (USA). A part of the donations from each chapter is transferred to the Wikimedia Foundation, which distributes the donations to the national chapters to support their work. The distribution is based on decisions of the Funds Dissemination Committee, a committee composed of volunteers. In 2013, we received 1.37 Mio. € from the FDC. Membership fees were 309.000 €. Other revenues were interest and license fees. Third party funds were from the EU (54k €).

Organizational structure, governance and history (brief)[edit]

  • Wikimedia Deutschland was founded in 2004 as the first Wikimedia chapter worldwide
  • organized the first Wikimania in 2005
  • strong involvement in Wikimedia movement both in Germany and internationally
  • General Assembly, Supervisory board, Executive Board, Staff units, Departments, Supporting services, as per this chart
  • For further details, see Wikimedia Deutschland’s proposal for 2014 to the Wikimedia Foundation’s Funds Dissemination Committee.


Financial aspects of the project will be overseen by Stephan Rost, financial manager at Wikimedia Deutschland. All other aspects will be managed by Dr. Daniel Mietchen, who has experience in managing projects at the interface between the Open Access and Wikimedia communities, especially from his time as Wikimedian in Residence on Open Science with the Open Knowledge Foundation.


The project will run from January 1 till September 30, 2014. A working prototype shall be demonstrated at Wikimania 2014 in August in London.


I. Personnel
List Position and amount of time dedicated to project Total (USD) for Project Amount Requested of OSF
Taxes / Employer's contributions
Fringe benefits
II. Equipment and Capital Purchases
List Equipment and Capital Spendings Unit price Quantity Total (USD) for Project Amount Requested of OSF
III. Administration
List Type of Expense (List cost for entire length of grant period) Total (USD) for Project Amount Requested of OSF
Office Supplies
Service and Maintenance
Printing and Publishing (Office related)
Translating (Office related)
Overhead (incl. financial administration) $2,000.00 $2,000.00
ADMINISTRATION SUBTOTAL : $2,000.00 $2,000.00
IV. Travel
List Total (USD) for Project Amount Requested of OSF
Out-of-town travel (Totals from worksheet) $3,000.00 $3,000.00
In town travel (Please list)
TRAVEL SUBTOTAL: $3,000.00 $3,000.00
V. Other
List Total (USD) for Project Amount Requested of OSF
Software developer licensing bot $5,000.00 $5,000.00
Software developer OA button integration $1,500.00 $1,500.00
Software developer full-text importer $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Community engagement and outreach activities $2,500.00 $2,500.00
Project management $3,000.00 $3,000.00
Icon design $1,000.00 $1,000.00
in-person meeting (satellite event) $2,500.00 $2,500.00
outreach materials $2,000.00 $2,000.00
OTHER SUBTOTAL : $18,500.00 $18,500.00
TOTAL ALL CATEGORIES Total (USD) for Project Amount Requested of OSF
$23,500.00 $23,500.00