Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Leveraging Wikipedia

Mark Chillingworth has an idea:  Information professionals who want to steer students toward high-quality, peer-reviewed literature shouldn't forbid them to use Wikipedia but make the case in Wikipedia.  Excerpt:

IWR [Information World Review] doesn't want to rubbish the teaching of good information literacy, but we can't help feeling that this education and an improvement in the information should take place within Wikipedia.

Now, before you all shoot me down, let me explain. Wikipedia is a community, not just of those that put time and effort into editing it, but also the users. Therefore the best place to meet your perspective users, introduce them to your content and advise them on better information gathering practices is at Wikipedia. Information professionals and information providers should be playing a considerable part in improving the content on Wikipedia....

Wikipedia is in many ways a platform, it has a host of information within it, and it seamlessly leads users to other sources within and beyond Wikipedia, so therefore the information industry should accept and embrace Wikipedia....IWR knows publishing houses in the business area that are updating entries for areas they are specialists in and have gained around 200 extra visitors a month from Wikipedia alone and the subsequent revenue.

PS:  Good idea.  I've often made a similar point:  "The fact that we want free online access to full texts doesn't mean that we already have it. Limiting searches to free online sources can be wishful thinking that undermines the adequacy of a search. But...I welcome evidence that young researchers look first in free online sources....That's by far the most convenient place to look. Our job is to put more information in that basket, not persuade researchers to start with less convenient sources."