The UK plans to give the public access to academic research via the internet free of charge. The government said that Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales had agreed to advise it on how to ensure the move would promote "collaboration and engagement".
The decision will have major implications for the publishing industry. Firms currently charge access to peer-reviewed papers covered in journals.
Science Minister David Willetts outlined details of the plan in an article in the Guardian newspaper ahead of a speech to the Publishers Association. He noted that the state currently spent about £5bn a year funding university studies.
"Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the forefront of academic research," he said. "The challenge is how we get there without ruining the value added by academic publishers."
The announcement followed a campaign dubbed the "academic spring" in which thousands of researchers pledged to boycott journals which restricted the free sharing of information.