Science Is Shaped by Wikipedia: Evidence From a Randomized Control Trial

Authors : Neil Thompson, Douglas Hanley

“I sometimes think that general and popular treatises are almost as important for the progress of science as original work.” – Charles Darwin, 1865.

As the largest encyclopedia in the world, it is not surprising that Wikipedia reflects the state of scientific knowledge. However, Wikipedia is also one of the most accessed websites in the world, including by scientists, which suggests that it also has the potential to shape science. This paper shows that it does.

Incorporating ideas into Wikipedia leads to those ideas being used more in the scientific literature. We provide correlational evidence of this across thousands of Wikipedia articles and causal evidence of it through a randomized control trial where we add new scientific content to Wikipedia.

We find that the causal impact is strong, with Wikipedia influencing roughly one in every ∼830 words in related scientific journal articles. We also find causal evidence that the scientific articles referenced in Wikipedia receive more citations, suggesting that Wikipedia complements the traditional journal system by pointing researchers to key underlying scientific articles.

Our findings speak not only to the influence of Wikipedia, but more broadly to the influence of repositories of scientific knowledge and the role that they play in the creation of scientific knowledge.


Text Data Mining from the Author’s Perspective: Whose Text, Whose Mining, and to Whose Benefit?

Authors : Christine L. Borgman

Given the many technical, social, and policy shifts in access to scholarly content since the early days of text data mining, it is time to expand the conversation about text data mining from concerns of the researcher wishing to mine data to include concerns of researcher-authors about how their data are mined, by whom, for what purposes, and to whose benefits.


What’s in a Name? Exploring identity in the field of library journal publishing

Authors : Jacqueline Whyte Appleby, Jeanette Hatherill, Andrea Kosavic, Karen Meijer-Kline


This paper explores the variability in self-identifying practices of academic libraries engaged in journal publishing and hosting activities. We were interested in how libraries characterized their efforts in this area and looked at whether there is an unspoken threshold for differentiation with respect to publishing-support naming conventions.


Using the Library Publishing Directory, in-depth interviews, and a more widely circulated follow-up survey, the research team examined service offerings, divisions of responsibility, funding, terminology, and semantic associations within publishing, both as an active practice and as an advertised service.


We aimed to tease out whether there was any sort of tipping point, or inferred rules, around when an institution chose to call the activity either publishing or hosting. We found no particular service, set of services, funding structure, or division of labor that obviously influenced the use of a particular term.

Rather than noting a divide between publishing and hosting, participants spoke of both a spectrum and a tiering of work and support, though all emphasized that these models did not describe the quality of the work produced.

This paper also discusses how use of the term library publishing creates additional ambiguity in naming practices, and considers some implications for library staff newly immersed in scholarly publishing work.

URL : What’s in a Name? Exploring identity in the field of library journal publishing


Students’ satisfaction and perceived impact on knowledge, attitudes and skills after a 2-day course in scientific writing: a prospective longitudinal study in Spain

Authors : Esteve Fernández, Ana M García, Elisabet Serés, Fèlix Bosch


This study aimed to determine students’ satisfaction with a 2-day course on scientific writing in health sciences and to assess their perceptions of the long-term impact on their knowledge, attitudes and skills.


27 iterations of a 2-day course on writing and publishing scientific articles in health sciences.


741 students attending the 27 courses.


Prospective longitudinal study.

Primary and secondary outcome measures

Immediately after each course, students completed a first questionnaire, rating their satisfaction with different aspects of the classroom sessions on a Likert scale (0–5). Approximately 2 years after the course, students completed a follow-up questionnaire, using a Likert scale (0–4) to rate their knowledge, skills and attitudes in relation to scientific writing before and after attending the course.


741 students (70% women) participated in the 27 iterations of the course; 568 (76.8%) completed the first questionnaire and 182 (24.6%) completed the follow-up questionnaire. The first questionnaire reflected high overall satisfaction (mean score, 4.6).

In the second questionnaire, students reported that the course had improved their knowledge (mean improvement: 1.6; 95% CI 1.6 to 1.7), attitudes (mean improvement: 1.3; 95% CI 1.2 to 1.4) and skills (mean improvement: 1.4; 95% CI 1.3 to 1.4) related to writing and publishing scientific papers. Most respondents (n=145, 79.7%) had participated in drafting a scientific paper after the course; in this subgroup, all the specific writing skills assessed in the second questionnaire significantly improved.


Students were satisfied with the format and the contents of the course, and those who responded to the follow-up survey considered that the course had improved their knowledge, attitudes and skills in relation to scientific writing and publishing. Courses are particularly important in countries without strong traditions in scientific publication.

URL : Students’ satisfaction and perceived impact on knowledge, attitudes and skills after a 2-day course in scientific writing: a prospective longitudinal study in Spain


Thoughts on Publishing the Research Article over the Centuries

Author : David Banks

The first academic periodical was the Journal des Sçavans, which first appeared in January 1665. It was followed two months later by the Philosophical Transactions. The Journal des Sçavans was sponsored by the state and was made up mainly of book reviews and covered all the known disciplines of the time.

The Philosophical Transactions was a private venture based on Oldenburg’s correspondence and was restricted to science and technology. Scientific writers were motivated by personal reputation, the desire to improve the human condition, and, sometimes, priority.

The “publish or perish” syndrome is a recent development. Among the factors that have influenced it are the increasing professionalization of science, the development of the peer-review system, and, towards the end of the twentieth century, a desire for rapid publication.

The fact that English has (recently) become the lingua franca of scientific publishing creates additional difficulties for non-Anglophone scientists, which their Anglophone colleagues do not have to face. Scientific language, similar to all languages, evolves constantly.

One area that seems to be changing at the moment is that of passive use, which is the subject of ongoing research. Cultural differences may also have a role to play. For example, French scientists may have to overcome a basically Cartesian education.

URL : Thoughts on Publishing the Research Article over the Centuries

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Opening the Heart of Science: A Review of the Changing Roles of Research Libraries

Author : Jorge Revez

In a world of information overload and data deluge, is opening science a research library’s duty? Or is the openness of science deeply changing libraries, ultimately converting them into something else?

The purpose of the review is to highlight the challenging issues stemming from the relationship between research and libraries. A broad literature analysis was performed focused on the intersection of three different perspectives: (1) the future of research libraries, (2) the emerging new roles, and (3) the ongoing openness of science.

Libraries are still at the heart of science but challenged by several stakeholders within the complexity of present science production and communication. Research support services, research data management, or research information management are emerging roles, among others, sustaining an open path where libraries thrive to be more collaborative while looking forward to establishing new partnerships.

URL : Opening the Heart of Science: A Review of the Changing Roles of Research Libraries


Reflective Practice: Eight Stages of Publishing a Scientific Research Paper

Author : Stephen K. Donovan

This paper suggests a methodology of academic paper classification for the scientist intending to contribute to peer-reviewed scientific literature. This will enable the progress of the typescript through the publication system to be accurately determined at any stage.

The publication process is split into eight subdivisions of differing worth and import: in navel contemplation; in preparation; submitted; in review; revision, revised, and resubmitted; accepted; in press; and publication.

Papers in navel contemplation are referred to as in preparation by many, which can be an embarrassment when asked exactly what has been prepared. Rather than listing papers as in preparation in academic submissions, it is better to list them as unpublished data until published.

Efficient authors keep a close watch on their papers between submission and the proof stage. They must be sufficiently organized to manage their publications and to be aware when things slow down.

The methodology is flexible and, if it does not work for some authors, then they have a simple framework to adapt to their own preferences. In short, scientists need to show care and not be overly optimistic about the progress of any paper.

URL : Reflective Practice: Eight Stages of Publishing a Scientific Research Paper