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Wikipedia: a growing resource for information dissemination

One of the goals of FairerScience.org is to increase the communication between researchers and the media around topics relating to women in science. One of the issues facing researchers in disseminating their results is not only finding venues in which to do so but also conveying accurate and comprehensible information about what their research says (and doesn't say).

In the past, this has typically meant talking to a journalist who would then write about the research for her or his publication. One of the exciting features about newer forms of information sharing, primarily those found on the web, is that there are opportunities for researchers to "speak" directly to the public, without going through the media. Of course, the challenge here is how to find an audience.

One of the most dynamic informational web sites available is Wikipedia, and we see this as a major opportunity for researchers to disseminate their results in a forum that gets a lot of traffic and has a low threshold for participation. Are you conducting research on girls' and boys' attitudes toward science? You can write a wiki article and post it on Wikipedia, linking to your own and other related research. You can also edit existing articles, adding information and removing disinformation.

Wikipedia is a true community resource, and as such, all articles can be edited by anyone, which can be both a strength and a weakness, as it allows new information to be added to an article, but it also means that what you write can be changed. Here is a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia.

We see Wikipedia as a great way to spread the word on research topics, and we hope to see more articles on women in science in coming months. (Currently, the first five results on a search on "women science" returns only one article on women in science, and four articles on women in science fiction.)


A variety of Wikipedia articles could certainly use a more balanced view (especially the one about intelligence and race/gender) and it would be a fine thing if experts on the field could edit them and write new ones. But "original research" is explicitly not wanted in Wikipedia, so be careful to include references to literature published elsewhere. Otherwise, the article might be removed.

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