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.

DOI : https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3039505

Wikipedia in higher education: Changes in perceived value through content contribution

Authors : Joan Soler-Adillon, Dragana Pavlovic

Wikipedia is a widely used resource by university students, but it is not necessarily regarded as being reliable and trustworthy by them, nor is it seen as a context in which to make content contributions.

This paper presents a teaching and research project that consisted in having students edit or create Wikipedia articles and testing whether or not this experience changed their perceived value of the platform. We conducted our experience at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain) and University of Niš (Niš, Serbia) with a total number of 240 students.

These students edited articles and answered two questionnaires, one before and one after the exercise. We compared the pre and post experience answers to the questionnaires with a series of paired samples ttests, through which our data showed that students did significantly change their perception of reliability and usefulness, and of likeliness of finding false information on Wikipedia.

Their appreciation of the task of writing Wikipedia articles, in terms of it being interesting and challenge also increased. They did not significantly change, however, their judgement on the social value of the platform, neither in the university nor in the general context.

In addition, the open questions and informal feedback allowed us to gather valuable insights towards the evaluation of the overall experience.

URL : Wikipedia in higher education: Changes in perceived value through content contribution

Alternative location : http://eprints.rclis.org/32171/

 

 

Evolution of Wikipedia’s medical content: past, present and future

Authors : Thomas Shafee, Gwinyai Masukume, Lisa Kipersztok, Diptanshu Da, Mikael Häggström, James Heilman

As one of the most commonly read online sources of medical information, Wikipedia is an influential public health platform. Its medical content, community, collaborations and challenges have been evolving since its creation in 2001, and engagement by the medical community is vital for ensuring its accuracy and completeness.

Both the encyclopaedia’s internal metrics as well as external assessments of its quality indicate that its articles are highly variable, but improving. Although content can be edited by anyone, medical articles are primarily written by a core group of medical professionals.

Diverse collaborative ventures have enhanced medical article quality and reach, and opportunities for partnerships are more available than ever. Nevertheless, Wikipedia’s medical content and community still face significant challenges, and a socioecological model is used to structure specific recommendations.

We propose that the medical community should prioritise the accuracy of biomedical information in the world’s most consulted encyclopaedia.

URL : Evolution of Wikipedia’s medical content: past, present and future

Alternative location : http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2017/08/24/jech-2016-208601

Wikipedia as a gateway to biomedical research: The relative distribution and use of citations in the English Wikipedia

Authors : Lauren A. Maggio, John M. Willinsky, Ryan M. Steinberg, Daniel Mietchen, Joseph L. Wass, Ting Dong

Wikipedia is a gateway to knowledge. However, the extent to which this gateway ends at Wikipedia or continues via supporting citations is unknown. Wikipedia’s gateway functionality has implications for information design and education, notably in medicine.

This study aims to establish benchmarks for the relative distribution and referral (click) rate of citations, as indicated by presence of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), from Wikipedia, with a focus on medical citations.

DOIs referred from the English Wikipedia in August 2016 were obtained from Crossref.org. Next, based on a DOI presence on a WikiProject Medicine page, all DOIs in Wikipedia were categorized as medical (WP:MED) or non-medical (non-WP:MED).

Using this categorization, referred DOIs were classified as WP:MED, non-WP:MED, or BOTH, meaning the DOI may have been referred from either category. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Out of 5.2 million Wikipedia pages, 4.42% (n=229,857) included at least one DOI. 68,870 were identified as WP:MED, with 22.14% (n=15,250) featuring one or more DOIs. WP:MED pages featured on average 8.88 DOI citations per page, whereas non-WP:MED pages had on average 4.28 DOI citations.

For DOIs only on WP:MED pages, a DOI was referred every 2,283 pageviews and for non-WP-MED pages every 2,467 pageviews. DOIs from both pages accounted for 12% (n=58,475) of referrals, making determining a referral rate for both impossible.

While these results cannot provide evidence of greater citation referral from WP:MED than non-WP:MED, they do provide benchmarks to assess strategies for changing referral patterns.

These changes might include editors adopting new methods for designing and presenting citations or the introduction of teaching strategies that address the value of consulting citations as a tool for extending learning.

URL : Wikipedia as a gateway to biomedical research: The relative distribution and use of citations in the English Wikipedia

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1101/165159

Student perceptions of writing with Wikipedia in Australian higher education

Authors : Robert Cummings, Frances DiLauro

The benefits of teaching with Wikipedia in higher education have been investigated for more than a decade and practitioners have claimed a fairly uniform set of outcomes. Although Wikipedia is a global knowledge platform, many studies of the benefits of teaching with Wikipedia have been conducted in U.S. higher education institutions.

The authors taught with Wikipedia in writing classes at the University of Sydney, Australia, surveying and interviewing students to both verify the traditional benefits of teaching with Wikipedia and investigate a new set of perceived benefits.

This study finds evidence that students who worked with Wikipedia in the writing classroom remained neutral in their opinions as to the legitimacy of information on Wikipedia and skeptical as to its utility in mastering writing course outcomes.

DOI : http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/7488

Wikiconflits : un corpus de discussions éditoriales conflictuelles du Wikipédia francophone

Auteurs/Authors : Celine Poudat, Natalia Grabar, Camille Paloque-Berges, Thierry Chanier, Jin Kun

Si Wikipédia (WP), qui fête aujourd’hui ses quinze ans, a donné lieu à de nombreuses études et projets de recherche qui ont permis de saisir différents aspects de son fonctionnement, de sa gouvernance ou encore des processus de réécriture à l’œuvre dans les articles, le projet encyclopédique a surtout été observé par les sciences sociales, et la question de l’écriture collaborative a été plutôt abordée du point de vue de la coopération (e.g. Viegas et al. 2004, Brandes & Lemer 2007, Kittur & Kraut 2008, Stvilia et al. 2008) que de celui de l’écriture, et des caractéristiques linguistiques et discursives particulières que le projet encyclopédique et son dispositif induisent.

Le corpus Wikiconflits, qui est l’objet du présent article, a été développé pour pallier cette situation et encourager les études linguistiques sur le projet encyclopédique, du moins est­ ce l’une de nos ambitions.

Wikiconflits s’articule ainsi autour des pages de discussion éditoriale associées aux articles encyclopédiques. Si le processus normal d’une édition d’article sur WP est collaboratif et constructif – c’est le cas de la grande majorité du WP anglophone, la coopération peut être plus ardue et entraîner des conflits éditoriaux.

En tant que frontières de la discussion et la collaboration, les conflits nous semblent des objets particulièrement intéressants à aborder pour caractériser ce nouveau genre discursif de la page de discussion éditoriale et collaborative.

Nous avons ainsi choisi de nous concentrer sur les articles ayant été le lieu de conflits, voire de guerres éditoriales. L’objectif du présent article est de présenter le corpus Wikiconflits, de ses principes de constitution à sa construction, en explicitant également les perspectives de recherche dans lesquelles nous souhaitons le mobiliser.

URL : https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01485427

Why We Read Wikipedia

Authors : Philipp Singer, Florian Lemmerich, Robert West, Leila Zia, Ellery Wulczyn, Markus Strohmaier, Jure Leskovec

Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites on the Web, with millions of users relying on it to satisfy a broad range of information needs every day. Although it is crucial to understand what exactly these needs are in order to be able to meet them, little is currently known about why users visit Wikipedia.

The goal of this paper is to fill this gap by combining a survey of Wikipedia readers with a log-based analysis of user activity.

Based on an initial series of user surveys, we build a taxonomy of Wikipedia use cases along several dimensions, capturing users’ motivations to visit Wikipedia, the depth of knowledge they are seeking, and their knowledge of the topic of interest prior to visiting Wikipedia.

Then, we quantify the prevalence of these use cases via a large-scale user survey conducted on live Wikipedia with almost 30,000 responses.

Our analyses highlight the variety of factors driving users to Wikipedia, such as current events, media coverage of a topic, personal curiosity, work or school assignments, or boredom.

Finally, we match survey responses to the respondents’ digital traces in Wikipedia’s server logs, enabling the discovery of behavioral patterns associated with specific use cases.

For instance, we observe long and fast-paced page sequences across topics for users who are bored or exploring randomly, whereas those using Wikipedia for work or school spend more time on individual articles focused on topics such as science.

Our findings advance our understanding of reader motivations and behavior on Wikipedia and can have implications for developers aiming to improve Wikipedia’s user experience, editors striving to cater to their readers’ needs, third-party services (such as search engines) providing access to Wikipedia content, and researchers aiming to build tools such as recommendation engines.

URL : Why We Read Wikipedia

Alternative location : https://arxiv.org/abs/1702.05379