Guidelines for Participating in Wikipedia from NIH
is an encyclopedia and is the fifth most popular property on the web.
At present [February 3, 2015] there are more than 75,000 active
contributors across the globe with hundreds of thousands of volunteers
at computers working on more than 13,000,000 articles in more than 260
languages. Recently, the system has become much more sophisticated and
"vandals" are handled quickly. But the majority of science articles and
good health information are rated by Wikipedia as "incomplete." There is
a real opportunity to strengthen this public resource. A biochemistry
professor who was part of the NIH Wikipedia Academy workshop in July
2009, noted about the content: "[it is] meant to derive its authority
from journal references, scientific literature…." We hope these
guidelines will help you to become part of a unique opportunity in
keeping with the NIH’s history of making credible, vetted, authoritative
information available to the public. The time spent can be minimal, but
the impact could be great. Information you have already developed that
might benefit scientists or the public worldwide could be put up in a
few minutes — or one item in a journal club could be an entry (suggested
by some NIH scientists) as a shared experience, or if one has
permission and is so inclined, an authored article in an area needing
new information would require more effort. Many have heard that schools
will not permit citation of Wikipedia — completely appropriate—and
acknowledged by Wikipedia. They, as with any encyclopedia, would not be a
credible citation, however, the growing list of peer-reviewed,
published sources used in citation makes it an invaluable tool for
getting started or locating original sources.
- NIH scientists and health and science writers can
contribute to Wikipedia within their own fields. Contributions may be
in the form of a range of activities from authoring articles in areas of
individual or laboratory expertise, editing for accuracy or improving
current entries, or providing—and this is an important contribution —
- Remember that Wikipedia makes every effort to be a neutral resource
and fact-based. The community is particularly sensitive to self
aggrandizing, hype, or policy items. The main page for NIH programs (IC
or Office) should go through the appropriate communication officer in
your IC or Office.
- Time spent on Wikipedia entries must be approved by the immediate
supervisor and the time permitted for this outreach activity
predetermined before the work is begun. It is recommended that the staff
person indicates the areas he/she will contribute to in the time
- In your NIH capacity: NIH staff scientists and science writers and
health professionals may only contribute to Wikipedia entries in their
own scientific and health areas of expertise from the NIH.
- In your personal capacity: To contribute to articles in additional
areas of interest, NIH employees should use personal resources,
including non-Government home computers and personal internet accounts.
- NIH staff may only share information that is in the public domain
and contribute factual information not opinion. Nor should staff enter
into discussions of policy. That is not appropriate to Wikipedia nor NIH
- To ensure quality and avoid instances of plagiarism, Wikipedia
requires contributors to cite literature or link to existing materials
and to provide proper attribution to authors and sources, even if the
work is in the public domain. There is constant vigilance by Wikipedians
in favor of fact over opinion; inaccurate information is corrected
through a series of permissions.
- The Wikimedia Foundation has established a switchboard, staffed by
volunteers, for NIH editors and contributors. Contributors should use
the NIH Switchboard for Wikipedia to ensure that your contributions are
welcomed. We will be posting information about contacting the
switchboard on line.
- Seize opportunities to link to full articles through NIH public access holdings.
- These guidelines are designed for communications from NIH.
Individuals may, of course, contribute privately to Wikipedia on their
own time and own equipment in areas of personal knowledge.
- We are using these guidelines as a working document for the NIH
community. If you have comments or questions, please contact us at NIHWikipediaComments@mail.nih.gov (link sends e-mail).
Guidelines for Participating in Wikipedia from NIH | National Institutes of Health (NIH)