4 Oct 2010

Editing Wikipedia - for scientists

Wikipedia is now one of the most visited websites, and is probably the biggest source of fully free information. Wikipedia and Wikimedia in general fits well in the "open movement" alongside open source, open access, and open data. Many people, including scientists, find Wikipedia to be invaluable and read it on a daily basis, and some have even used it as a source, but you may find that the coverage is wrong or scanty. You can shrug and move on, or you can fix it yourself - and leave it better for the next reader.

If you're not contributing to Wikipedia already, as a scientist you're very well placed to do so as two of the main rules should be second nature - citing your sources and presenting the work of others neutrally. I could go into much more detail, but Darren Logan and his Cambridge colleagues have already written a brilliant guide in PLoS Computational Biology that is recommended reading for those who are as yet unfamiliar with the ins-and-outs of becoming a Wikipedian.


pj said...

On the topic of open access - any thoughts about the Webmedcentral publishing model?

I hadn't come across it before until I was researching this study which I had some reservations about.

Matt Hodgkinson said...

I've seen Webmedcentral before. Briefly: 1. I wonder if they are skirting with trademark infringement; 2. I note that they don't actually say who is behind the site, which is very poor practice; 3. Post-publication isn't a substitute for pre-publication peer review. For one thing, the authors are under no obligation to make any changes to their work.