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Thomas Shafee

Wikimedia username:

Evolution and Evolvability

E-mail address:



Thomas Shafee

Team of 6 assistants:

Geographical impact:


Type of project:

Research + Output

What is your idea?

The WikiJournals are a series of zero-cost, open access, peer-reviewed research journals.

In order to accommodate future growth, and analyse work performed so far, we need:

  • In-depth and clean data (about WikiJournal articles, authors, reviewers, editors)
    • Assessing what metadata can be included
    • Integration with STARDIT
  • Back-end efficiency improvements (improving turn-around time by ensuring key tasks are always covered)
    • Logging the manual time requirements for tasks
    • Identifying points for streamlining or simplification
    • Identifying points for automation

A side-benefit of this is that updated metadata also improved Wikidata (e.g. a peer reviewer of an article should have their wikidata item brought up to date)

Why is it important?

WikiJournals are expanding to better cover a missing piece of the free knowledge ecosystem e.g.:

  • Original research projects or syntheses that are thoroughly audited to add new knowledge to other Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia.
  • Attract scholars and researchers to contribute to the world of open-access knowledge in a format that they are more familiar with. The resultant information can easily be shared with Wikimedia projects, as well as with scholarly publishing in general.
  • Free information aimed at specialists (e.g. WP's page on depression is aimed at a general audience, WikiJournals could publish information aimed at teachers, therapists and medical professionals).
  • Recording and assessment of oral history to supplement oral citations.
  • Provide a zero-cost 'diamond open access' academic publishing system for authors and readers without money for access to journal subscriptions, or article processing fees.

Altogether, this will result in improved credibility of Wikimedia Foundation projects such as Wikipedia, as well as the world of open access knowledge in general.

Is your project already in progress?

The WikiJournals are already operating, and some initial data records have been generated for newer articles, however data around older articles has been minimally updated. The organization is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the US.

A scoping analysis has also been performed on what information could be included on projects and the relevant mapping to wikidata terms and initil guidelines drawn up on minimial data (for articles, for reviewers, etc).

How is it relevant to credibility and Wikipedia? (max 500 words)

WikiJournals are to be a source of information for other wikimedia projects via:

  • New original research information.
  • Auditing the accuracy of existing Wikipedia articles, improving their credibility.

WikiJournals therefore put an emphasis on reliable sources for its articles.

Part of ensuring this is the completeness of the metadata, checking for geographic bias, identifying how to improve turnaround time, and other assessments, e.g.:

  • What is the geographic of authors and reviewers
  • What are the full turnaround times for the full peer review process? Does it differ depending on authors’ demographics (e.g. country of residence or gender)?
  • What are the major constraints in the pipeline?
  • Does the geographic distribution of authors match that of peer reviewers?
  • How closely do the main topics of articles match main topics of their peer reviewer’s published works and are there commonly identifiable expertise gaps?
  • Do any of the above factors affect whether a peer reviewer consents to have their identity public knowledge?

What is the ultimate impact of this project?

  • Academic-level quality assurance for existing and new Wikimedia content, enhancing reliability and trust.
  • Brining the free model, openness, and hyper-transparency of Wikimedia way of working to to academic publishing.

Could it scale?

WikiJournals in general are intended to be highly scalable. The work done in this project will feed into several upscaled projects:

Upscaling via the current WikiJournals looking to increase in publication frequency (WMF funding application):

  • Establishment of best practices for subsequent automation
    • what data items are needed
    • best data structure, what are common problems, what gaps or edgecases are found
    • what aspects will be automatable and which will require ongoing human action
  • Enabling analysis of how well the current journals are able to establish credibility by matching articles to peer reviwer expertise

Upscaling for other journals a larger wikimedia journals platform proposal applicaiont in consideration by the WMF).

  • Acting as the proof of principle
  • Value of open data for improving academic publishing transparency
  • Value of synchonising bewteen mediawiki, wikidata and academic publishing

Upscaling for other journals using the Open Journal Systems software (OJS collaboration part of WMF funding application).

  • As above but more broadly the value of maximising
  • May be relevant to other open source publishing software e.g. RedAlyc used often in South American Open access publications
  • Will inform STARDIT data standards to be used more broadly in reserach projects and other iitiatives

In these ways, the work facilitated by this grant will be a springboard for several larger projects, ensuring that it has ongoing valua and impact.

Why are you the people to do it?

I have extensive experience in project management and data analysis.

The other six participants have a wide range of experience Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Wikicommons, and Wikidata as well as experience in project organisation for other volunteer groups.

In addition, there are approximately 60 volunteers serving as editorial board members and associate editors of the journals of the project, in addition to numerous authors and peer reviewers involved in the project, and the funding will allow them to more efficiently carry out their duties.

What is the impact of your idea on diversity and inclusiveness of the Wikimedia movement?

WikiJournals welcomes all willing contributors, and it is in its interest to engage volunteers from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Regarding content, Wikipedia, and to a lesser extent the other WMF wikis, cannot directly include original research. The WikiJournals provide an avenue for vetting and quality-assessing original research through the established mechanism of academic peer review.

What are the challenges associated with this project and how you will overcome them?

There is a backlog of articles, authors, peer reviewers and editors with incomplete or out of data data, making analyses currently impossible. Part of the project will be to systematically audit the full dataset to identify and fill in missing data. For example:

  • Relevant items include
    • articles, authors and peer reviewers (and their previous works and affiliations)
  • Key properties include
    • for articles: main topics, usage of methodologies, techniques or theoretical frameworks
    • for people: fields of expertise, affiliations (inc. start and end dates where available)

How much money are you requesting?


How will you spend the money?

  • US$20 per hour
  • 350 hours (Team of 6: Jacob Naccarato, Jenna Harmon, Logan Smith, Wilson Jacobs, Emma Choplin, Joshua Langfus)
    • scoping data mapping (initial scoping complete, though likely will be updated during project)
    • auditing and updating data
      • collating and analysing current data
      • assessing current data completeness
      • gathering and entering missing data
      • direct contacting people to close gaps where necessary
    • summarising findings
      • downstraem analyses of now complete data
      • determining best practices
    • troubleshooting emergent issues

How long will your project take?

350 hours over 3 months (March-May); Approximate estimates:

  • 75hr - auditing and updating all published articles (particularly ‘main subject (P921)’, ‘uses (P4510)’ and ‘cites (P2860)’)
  • 225hr - auditing and updating the people associated with all published articles (including those people’s previously published works)
  • 10hr - reassessing guidelines on what data should be required
  • 40 hr - downstream analyses of the now updated data (examples above)

Have you worked on projects for previous grants before?