Today, there are a wide variety of digital channels available to researchers who want to disseminate their work with non-academic audiences. Some of them come and then go just as swiftly. Others draw viewers who are seeking material other than scientific information. This blog post is an appeal to academics to take Wikipedia, one of the most significant and sometimes overlooked digital platforms, into consideration when thinking about scientific communication. It has risen to the top of the list of frequently visited websites and has established itself as the most widely used encyclopedia globally. However, many academics view Wikipedia as merely another online profile page that complements their institution's website when weighing their options for digital scientific communication.
They are, however, missing the mark. Wikipedia's wonderful yet underestimated benefit is that it enables scientists to share their knowledge and research findings on relevant Wikipedia pages, which is exactly where readers are looking for it. In this approach, Wikipedia offers one of the most simple and efficient ways to spread information and use research discoveries to improve society. Engaging with the active community of Wikipedia co-editors is also a two-way street that can extend one's perspective and even spark further investigation.
The Wikipedia community has created a complicated web of rules throughout time to guard the encyclopedia against vandalism and (self-)promotion. With this article, we hope to provide researchers with some advice for their first edit. We chose a research article that had previously been produced by one of us for demonstration reasons. We found out how to add some of its conclusions and supporting references to Wikipedia. We explain our findings from this procedure in the step-by-step manual that follows, relying on Wikipedia's research aid page.
Making an account is optional but advised:
The first decision we had to make was whether or not to register as users in order to edit Wikipedia. Even though creating an account is not required for editing, doing so makes the process easier, more private, and more convenient as you may use the customized watchlist to receive notifications when your contributions and articles are updated. This seemed really helpful, so we made the decision to register.
Should we donate using one of our real identities or a pen name? Some can argue that using a real name as a researcher on Wikipedia is better since it might imply the authority of subject matter knowledge and intellectual connections. This heavily refers to the active discussion about the function of knowledge and expert editors in Wikipedia: Should editors be professionals? How therefore can competence be established and validated? A Ph.D., which many Wikipedia Consultants hold, does not enough for being considered a (more) respectable editor because Wikipedia is an anti-elitist initiative in many of its principles (including finance). Instead, it is all about how you argue in a meaningful way while properly citing your sources. We choose to go by a pseudonym.
Creation loss to choosing an article contribution:
The selection of a Wikipedia language version is the second step in the editing process. We utilized an English-language, Open Access essay on the predatory publication that was written by one of us (Maximilian) and Leonhard Dobusch for the purpose of this experiment. It was rather obvious that we would utilize this journal paper to add to the related Predatory Publishing Wikipedia article. Despite the fact that the journal article was written in English, we chose to alter the German version since it was less thorough than the English version and so gave us more opportunities to add. In general, we advise beginning with something straightforward.
It could be easier and more gratifying to contribute to editing an increasing article than starting from scratch or trying an edit in a very thorough one. However, there are several benefits to editing in a language that one is familiar with. Additionally, one of the main responsibilities of Wikipedia is translation, which may be used when one is at a loss for what to add.
Investigating an article: Look around the dressing Room:
We had a few suggestions for improving the Wikipedia entry after reading it, based on the journal paper. However, we had to quickly scan the discussion page that is linked to the article on Wikipedia because it serves as the entry's editorial foundation. Given that there is disagreement over a lot of material among different Wikipedians, the discussion page is where everything is discussed and agreed upon. This consensus is then reflected on the article page.
For instance, in our case, there was a lengthy debate on the precise meaning of predatory publishing: Given Wikipedia's editorial objective of neutrality, wouldn't the epithet "predatory" be too sensational? Or is it a phrase that the majority has decided on? We were able to avoid creating a fresh controversy with our proposed revisions by first reading through this one.
Editing an article: a few general Guidelines:
On a technological level, editing is simple and quick because of the working article and simple online text editor. But how exactly is content changed to comply with Wikipedia's rules? What happens, in the worst-case scenario, if the article is harmed as a result of poor editing? Good news is available with regard to the latter. Peer review after publishing keeps newcomers from messing things up. Every modification made by aspiring Wikipedians is internally reviewed by more seasoned users before it is "published," or made public and visible to the public. Additionally, writers and editors may trace any modification to the article's creation using the page's "history view."
However, it is advised to read over the most fundamental rules and instructions for editing in Wikipedia, notably the help page for researchers and, to a lesser extent, the Manual of Style and citation instructions.
Nothing can stop you from making your first modification if you have made it this far! Editing is simple, enjoyable, and a thought-provoking reflection on the regular negotiation of (scientific) information after you have your foot in the door. Why not give it a try in a workshop with your team or as a thoughtful and participatory teaching tool? There is a lot of room for you and your academic community to share research on Wikipedia. We also guarantee that given the encyclopedia's continued popularity despite all prior and present criticism, it won't disappear as soon as most other digital platforms and will continue to support our knowledge commons.