Submissions:2018/Wikipedia, Higher Education, and Public Review

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2018.

Wikipedia, Higher Education, and Public Review
Theme (optional)
Wikipedia and Higher Ed
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Robert E. Cummings
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Affiliation(s) (optional)
University of Mississippi

Academics once held Wikipedia in low regard. Encyclopædia Britannica editors likened it to using a public restroom (McHenry, 2004). Faculty have banned students from using it in their classwork (Jaschik), and have for so long deterred each other from accessing it – while accessing it themselves – they have perhaps created a “negative feedback loop” surrounding its actual use (Jemielniak and Aibar). Their reasoning has long been that Wikipedia produces neither accurate nor reliable knowledge. To do so, the academy holds, a system must employ peer-review: established experts set forth a hypothesis, and other experts attempt to reproduce the results. The entire field of experts works together to confirm or deny theories by reproducing results and a reliable view of our world emerges. Compare this, say the academics, to publicly-reviewed knowledge, where no one can assure readers if an assertion on Wikipedia has been reviewed, nor if a reviewer has any relevant expertise.

But significant problems have emerged for the system of peer review as well. Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, tracked the reproducibility of 100 articles published in the top three psychology journals and found that while 97% of the original studies found significant results, only 36% of replications found significant results (Nosek). In many instances replications could not repeat the results of the original study or suspected that the original study overstated the significance of the claims. Why? It has long been feared that since the academy awards novelty for promotion of its researchers, the more anonymous work of verifying a colleague’s research is devalued. And without reliable motivations to review a peer’s work, it seems that peer-reviewed knowledge also comes up short of its own standards.

This presentation seeks to look more closely at the system of public review, as found on Wikipedia, and more accurately portray how and when review occurs within the website, to what extent it is accurate, and whether the system as a whole fares better or worse than its counterpart peer review.

Length of presentation
20 mins
Special requests
Preferred room size
Schedule as you see fit
Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?
No. But based on feedback on this presentation, I plan to submit as a journal article
If you will be incorporating a slidedeck during your presentation, do you agree to upload it to Commons before your session, with a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, including suitable attribution in the slidedeck for any images used?
Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?

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  1. Shalor (Wiki Ed) (talk) 15:32, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. --Frank Schulenburg (talk) 21:17, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
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