UW-Madison Policy on Open Research & Free Interchange of Information
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a long and proud history of affirming academic freedom. The memorial of the Class of 1910, a bronze plaque on the front of Bascom Hall, eloquently reminds students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the University’s commitment to this ideal:
"What may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great State University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found."
From a report to the Board of Regents, September 18, 1894:
"To sustain and strengthen preeminence in research and higher education, the University must continue to foster and protect an environment of openness and academic freedom. Avenues of inquiry should be unlimited, participation in research and the academic community unrestricted, and dissemination of knowledge unfettered."
As policy, the University will not undertake research with restrictions on openness or academic freedom on its campus. Examples of unacceptable restrictions include classification, required external approval of research results before publication, or exclusion of members of the University’s community from participation in research. In particular, foreign faculty, students, or scholars should not be singled out for restriction in access to University’s educational and research activities. Most research can be conducted in accord with this policy and the ideals of freedom of inquiry and open exchange of knowledge.
The University recognizes that, in a very few instances, the best interests of society will mitigate against broad participation in research and open exchange of information. In such cases, the Vice Chancellor for Research may grant exceptions to this policy. Exceptions will be very rare and will require that the research is critically important to the University’s mission and serve a demonstrable greater good. If these conditions are not met, the University will decline or discontinue the research or, if an acceptable off-campus site is available, consider moving it to such off-campus site.
Application to Student Research
Theses, whether undertaken by graduate or undergraduate students, are an integral part of the research program of the University and fall under this policy. No student may undertake a thesis project that, at its inception or at any point during its conduct, requires restrictions on openness or academic freedom, unless the Vice Chancellor for Research, who is also the Dean of the Graduate School, grants an exception to this policy.
Approved by the Research Policy Advisory Council, December 15, 2005
Vice Chancellor for Research: Accepted RPAC recommendation