Submissions:2023/Citations in Wikipedia for Understanding Research Reach

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2023.


Citations in Wikipedia for Understanding Research Reach


Research / Science / Medicine

Type of session:



Research metrics (e.g., times cited, H-index) tell us about a publication's or researcher's impact within their scholarly community, but they do not describe impact outside academia. Altmetrics fills this gap by tracking mentions of academic publications in sources widely accessible to the public, including Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the most frequently accessed health information resource online and is well-positioned as a tool for public health education and knowledge translation. We explored our institution's impact on publicly available health and medical information by analysing its presence in Wikipedia article references.

In October 2022, a comprehensive database search was constructed in PubMed to retrieve secondary studies (e.g. systematic reviews, meta-analyses) published between 2017 and 2022 by at least one author from our institution (a research-intensive Canadian university). Altmetrics Explorer was used to access Wikipedia citation data for 3,582 secondary studies retrieved from PubMed.

The authors learned that 6% of health evidence syntheses from the authors' institution were cited 568 times in 524 Wikipedia articles across 29 unique languages. 45% of citations appeared in English Wikipedia, suggesting a broad global reach. A chi-square test confirmed a relationship between open-access publications and their presence in Wikipedia.

This talk will share our experience using Altmetrics Explorer to explore the impact of an institution's research. We will share our methodology, detailed results, and the insights gained from isolating Wikipedia citation data to explore the global, community-level reach of institutional contributions to health and medical evidence.

The authors are optimistic that this work will spark other researchers to consider how Wikipedia data can be used independently and alongside other data sources, like altmetrics, to demonstrate different ways to think about publication reach. Over time, similar studies could serve to change and enhance conversations about Wikipedia’s value as a public health resource and as an indicator of research reach.

Presentation Slides

Author name:

Denise Smith, Jack Young, Jennifer McKinnell

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:


Affiliated organization(s):

McMaster University, Brock University

Estimated time:

30 minutes

Special requests:

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:

Yes, At the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Health Libraries Association in June 2023

Okay to livestream?

Livestreaming is okay

If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)