Academics can help shape Wikipedia
understanding of science is increasingly important. Wikipedia is widely
used by students, educators, researchers, doctors, journalists, and
policy-makers. The online, crowd-sourced encyclopedia site is perceived
as increasingly trustworthy, making it a key public engagement platform
with immediate impacts on scientific literacy (1).
is an important time in the evolution of the encyclopedia. Its parent
organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, is working to shape its
strategic focus through to 2030. This represents an unprecedented
opportunity for the global scientific community to advise on its future.
Wikipedia has discussion pages for users to provide feedback on some of
the upcoming challenges (2).
scientific community can improve Wikipedia on a more granular level by
learning to edit the encyclopedia in areas that need improvement. Poorly
written articles can mislead readers and give a false impression of a
research field. The recent introduction of a new editing interface has
made the encyclopedia as easy to edit as a Word document, and a short
2014 article outlines some editing advice for scientists (3).
is increasingly engaging expert communities to improve accuracy and
coverage. Interested parties can contribute to several existing
collaborative initiatives or propose new ones. For example, some
academic journals (such as PLOS Computational Biology, Gene, and WikiJournal of Medicine) have agreed to dual-publish articles as both a citable publication and Wikipedia page (4).
The Cochrane library, a collection of health care databases, has a
similar quality-improvement partnership to help integrate optimal
scientific references into the encyclopedia (5).
the new Wikidata system stores machine-readable, structured data,
complementary to the prose format of the encyclopedia. Integrating
Wikidata with scientific databases provides new opportunities to
discover, curate, and use scientific knowledge within and across domains
- ↵Wikimedia movement, Strategy 2030 (https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2017/Participate).
Academics can help shape Wikipedia | Science