Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How peer-reviewed OA research can help Wikipedia

John Willinsky, What open access research can do for Wikipedia, First Monday, March 2007. 

Abstract:   This study examines the degree to which Wikipedia entries cite or reference research and scholarship, and whether that research and scholarship is generally available to readers. Working on the assumption that where Wikipedia provides links to research and scholarship that readers can readily consult, it increases the authority, reliability, and educational quality of this popular encyclopedia, this study examines Wikipedia’s use of open access research and scholarship, that is, peer-reviewed journal articles that have been made freely available online. This study demonstrates among a sample of 100 Wikipedia entries, which included 168 sources or references, only two percent of the entries provided links to open access research and scholarship. However, it proved possible to locate, using Google Scholar and other search engines, relevant examples of open access work for 60 percent of a sub-set of 20 Wikipedia entries. The results suggest that much more can be done to enrich and enhance this encyclopedia’s representation of the current state of knowledge. To assist in this process, the study provides a guide to help Wikipedia contributors locate and utilize open access research and scholarship in creating and editing encyclopedia entries.

Update. Here's a good comment by Glyn Moody:

One of the central ideas behind openness is re-use - the ability to build on what has gone before, rather than re-inventing the wheel. And yet, as [Willinsky] demonstrates, there is sometimes surprisingly little sharing and re-use between the various opens....I can't help feeling that there is a larger lesson here, and that all the various opens should be doing more to build on each other's strengths as well as their own. After all, it's partly what all this openness is about. Perhaps we need a meta-open movement?

Update. Also see the comment by Matt Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central.