Open Access Sources in Wikipedia
Wikipedia topics VS accessibility
Taken from:, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Creators: Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz.

In a study published two days ago, Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz examined the proportion of scientific references in Wikipedia articles that were published in Open Access. For the survey, the authors checked data for works referenced in Wikipedia against data from According to Redi, Taraborell & Orlowitz „less than half of the official versions of scholarly publications cited with an identifier in Wikipedia are freely available on the web:  29% are free-to-read at the source, while an additional 10% have a free-to-read version available elsewhere.“ The authors also report major differences in the availability per subject: About „55% of publications in space-related articles are open. On the contrary, if you are interested in chemistry, you will very likely have to pay to read the publications cited in your favorite Wikipedia articles or rely on an institutional subscription: 83% of publications in chemistry articles across languages are paywalled.“

However, the authors do not address an interesting question: How could the proportion of references in Wikipedia that are accessible free of charge be increased if more green Open Access versions were linked?

A more intensive linking of these works would require that Wikipedia authors and editors

  • have no difficulties in finding Green Open Access versions
  • do not distrust Green Open Access versions (e.g. because they consider these unciteable or are not sure whether these fully match the publisher’s version)


Further information:

Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz: How many Wikipedia references are available to read? We measured the proportion of open access sources across languages and topics.



Graduate sociologist, information scientist (PhD degree), working for the Saarland University and State Library (Germany), owner of the consulting agency scidecode, journalist.
ORCID: 0000-0002-3500-3119
Ulrich Herb
Open Access Sources in Wikipedia

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