Wikipedia Vs. Academic Papers – A Middle Ground

Matthew Todd | Intermolecular | January 29, 2012

We’re trialling an experiment until the end of February. Can we assemble a review of an area of science on a wiki, allowing anyone to contribute, and then publish that in a peer-reviewed academic journal? (early description of this on G+)

Wikipedia has a great deal of useful information, but its coverage of some academic areas can be patchy – it naturally depends who has contributed. With many articles the reader will be unable to judge whether the article is complete and accurate according to the current knowledge of the field. By contrast, many academic articles in journals are not open access, reducing the readership. Sometimes articles are written with a significant bias towards the authors’ work, and indeed sometimes that is the explicit purpose of the article. It’s very rare for leaders in a field to get together to co-author a review.

Wikipedia also has a suspect reputation in academia – we complain about its shortcomings, do little about it, and then all go and use it when nobody is looking.