One of the challenges facing the volunteer editors of Wikipedia is finding reliable sources to use as reference material — in our last editor survey, 39 percent named this as one of the largest problems hindering their contributions. The need was especially pronounced among our most active volunteers, who make hundreds or thousands of edits per month.
To address this issue, the Wikimedia Foundation is collaborating with JSTOR, a service of the not-for-profit organization ITHAKA, to provide 100 of the most active Wikipedia editors with free access to the complete archive collections on JSTOR, including more than 1,600 academic journals, primary source documents and other works. The authors who will receive accounts have collectively written more than 100,000 Wikipedia articles to date. Access to JSTOR, which is one of the most popular sources on English Wikipedia, will allow these editors to further fill in the gaps in the sum of all human knowledge.
While some Wikipedia volunteers may already receive access as part of their professional affiliations or through institutions like public libraries, this access is far from universal. This program will empower some of our most active editors to create new content on the huge variety of topics covered by the journal archives on JSTOR. Access during the pilot will be for a year, after which JSTOR and Wikimedia will collaborate on potentially expanding the program.
Wikipedia contributors beyond the pilot group can also take advantage of growing access, as can readers. JSTOR provides free access to Early Journal Content and recently introduced Register & Read, an experimental program to offer free, read-online access to individual scholars and researchers who register for a MyJSTOR account. More information may be found at about.jstor.org/individuals.
While Wikipedians are volunteers, their work on the encyclopedia is most definitely of a scholarly nature. We hope that this pilot will show that amazing things can happen when you provide dedicated volunteers with access to great source material.
Steven Walling, Associate Product Manager (Wikimedia Foundation)
Kristen Garlock, Associate Director, Education & Outreach (JSTOR)