Critical issues presentations/The interest of the world's most influential health organizations in Wikipedia's coverage of medical topics

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Submission no. 123
Title of the submission

The interest of the world's most influential health organizations in Wikipedia's coverage of medical topics

Author of the submission
  • Lane Rasberry
  • Fred Trotter
Country of origin

United States of America; United States of America


Outreach, Research

  • medicine
  • research
  • open data
  • readers

Wikipedia is the world's most consulted source of medical information. Medical content is Wikipedia's most academically researched information field. Despite Wikipedia's extreme popularity as a health information source, and despite the research already done, much basic research on this content has not yet been done. The lack of that research is a contributing factor in harm to Wikipedia's reputation, and harmed reputation is increasingly becoming a barrier to establishing institutional partnerships with medical organizations.

More research and more publication would improve Wikipedia's reputation. The Wikimedia community would benefit from increased understanding of the research process also. As an overview of the research process, the cycle includes identification of wanted data, negotiation of a fair and safe research process, solicitation for development funds, safe recruitment of research participants, balancing respectful management and open disclosure of the data, and planning research analysis which could answer any number of questions.

Batea, a browser extension which tracks Wikipedia reading behavior, is presented as an example case of collecting data that researchers demand but which does not exist. Batea monitors how students interact with health data and how students may use health information sources.

The development of Batea as a Wikipedia-specific tool is discussed as an example of institutional interest in Wikipedia as a global influence on thought. The use of such a tool in Wikipedia is contrasted with tracking processes of practically all other websites, and raises the issue of why Wikipedia does not routinely track readers as is the global norm. The growing influence of external research and thought on Wikipedia is discussed.



Interested attendees and comments