Michael Eisen, one of the founders of the open access movement, which seeks to make research publications freely available online, tweeted that he was “shocked to see @wikipedia working hand-in-hand with Elsevier.
Elsevier provides very expensive scientific journals, which can be accessed on line. The assumption is that if Wackypedia gets access to his journals free they will link its papers as a form of advertising.
Eisen said that this would mean that it would populate encyclopaedia with links people cannot access without a big bank account.
Over the last few days, a row has broken out between Eisen and other academics over whether a free and open service such as Wikipedia should be collaborating with a closed, non-free company such as Elsevier.
Eisen’s fear is that members of the public seek to follow such links, they will be unable to see the article in question unless they have a suitable subscription to Elsevier’s journals, or they make a one-time payment, usually tens of pounds for limited access.
Eisen tweeted “@Wikipedia is providing free advertising for Elsevier and getting nothing in return,” and that, rather than making it easy to access materials behind paywalls, “it SHOULD be difficult for @wikipedia editors to use #paywalled sources as, in long run, it will encourage openness.”
He called on Wikipedia’s co-founder, Jimmy Wales, to “reconsider accommodating Elsevier’s cynical use of @Wikipedia to advertise paywalled journals.” His own suggestion was that Wikipedia should provide citations, but not active links to paywalled articles.