Grants:IdeaLab/Getting Academic Reviewers

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Getting Academic Reviewers
Setting up a process that invites academic experts to provide reviews of articles, and gives the motivation to contribute by providing a way for them to get professional recognition for doing so.
idea creator
this project needs...
created on03:23, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Problem 1. Peer review process often does not focus substantially on content quality[edit]

The GA and FA review are not well geared to handle content quality issues, but often focus almost exclusively on form. Generally, in the review process, the closest thing to a topic expert is the article author, and the participants in the review are generally not previously acquainted with the literature on complex topics and are unable to be sufficiently critical of content issues. Often the peer review process simply ends up polishing the form of the article ("brilliant prose" and MOS issues), but substantial content problems often do make it through the peer review process (e.g. insufficient or inadequate use of literature, improper use of primary sources, lacking understanding of literature etc.). Substantial engagement with content on articles about complex topics often requires persons with topic expertise to point out such substantial problems.

Problem 2. Academic experts have little motivation to contribute to Wikipedia[edit]

Academic topic experts have little motivation for contributing knowledge or ideas to Wikipedia. They often do not consider Wikipedia to be sufficiently high quality, and importantly they receive no professional recognition for the time they might spend on improving articles or providing ideas for how to do so. If they participate as normal editors they are likely to become bogged down in frustrating discussions with lay editors, sometimes they may even be considered by lay editors to have a "conflict of interest" qua their specialist knowledge.

What is your solution?[edit]

The solution is to invite academic topic experts to contribute open "peer" reviews of articles as part of the review process. They could be invited by email to contribute, their reviews could be tied to a specific version of the article and be posted as sub-pages of the talkpage. In order to provide motivation to participation we could name the academic peer reviewers who have provided critique of a specific article in a banner at the top of the talkpage. This would make it easier for academics to cite their peer review work for wikipedia in their CVs - where it might count as public service. We could even have open invitations to have academics (somehow certified as experts in their field, for example through institutional mail through OTRS and a review of their google scholar profile to judge fit) to contribute reviews in exchange for name recognition on the talkpage. To assure the usefulness of reviews we would develop a template of criteria that each review ought to address.

An additional aspect of the solution (suggested by User:Sphilbrick on the talkpage) might be to reach out to academic departments and administrators to enlist them to support their scholars by acknowledging contributions to wikipedia's writing and reviewing process as valuable contributions to scholarship and to the public, so that it can be taken into account in tenure decisions and annual productivity goals.


The aims of the project would be to:

  1. Encourage academic topic experts to contribute knowledge to Wikipedia articles
    1. By soliciting peer reviews directly
    2. By having open invitations to topic experts to provide reviews
    3. By providing motivation in the form of a kind of recognition for contributing reviews that academics can add to their CVs
  2. Improve the review process and thereby the quality of our best articles

Get Involved[edit]

About the idea creator[edit]

Maunus (talk · contribs) (I have been a wikipedia editor for 10 years and I have experience with all levels of the review process both as reviewer and nominator. Professionally, I am a linguist and anthropologist working on Native American languages, and the history and politics of indigenous languages and education. I have written an article (forthcoming) on the problems with Wikipedia's coverage of Anthropology-related topics, in which I argue that expert participation is required to improve Wikipedias coverage of this topic area.)


  • Volunteer Special tools must be provided for trusted users for reviewing of articles. WP MANIKHANTA (talk) 06:00, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Happy to pitch in with existing experience from WMDC Fuzheado (talk) 17:17, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Yes, the quality of the articles can be further improved by peer review. Having an open review option in the wiki-page to review the recent changes may be very fruitful in this regard. S L Happy (talk) 17:53, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I'll do anything I can to help. I've commented on the talk page. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 05:31, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer give me a task for searching.i will do and easily find the mistake. Kabil jonas (talk) 18:24, 22 March 2016 (UTC)


  • Having seen the issue from both sides as an article writer and reviewer, the problems Maunus is talking about are very real. I think the solution offered is a novel one that not only could encourage scholars to improve a specific page, but may also lead to them staying and contributing in other areas as well. Wugapodes (talk) 18:12, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I agree that GA and FA reviews are stronger on format than they are on content, and encouraging experts to contribute would be helpful in improving the quality of our articles. This is especially important for the articles identified as our best articles. In theory, we would want to identify any expert, not just an academic, but academics are easier to identify. Sphilbrick (talk) 18:13, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this initiative 100%. The 2015 Strategy Consultation revealed that neutrality and accuracy were very high priorities for both readers and volunteers. If you define "reliability" as "neutrality and accuracy", then the reliability of our offering is their most pressing concern, and the only way currently known for producing truly reliable content is via rigorous, independent expert review. I'll do anything I can to help. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:35, 1 March 2016 (UTC)
  • endorse we had a positive experience with a sculpture curator critiquing an article which was improved at editathon. a regular process could scale a method of integrating expert knowledge. we could use an annotation layer, or piratepad notation. Slowking4 (talk) 15:58, 1 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Great idea. But don't forget to see in advance whether scholarly input on a certain article will be met with action by editors. It will not look good if good suggestions go unanswered. Sander1453 (talk) 16:49, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Be careful to not promote a cast of "special" editors. This completely goes against the spirit of the project. Many of us are academic experts and enjoy participating like any other volunteer. So, the effort to be done is to encourage more academic volunteers to join the project as editors without creating a special status (or distinction) for them.--ContributorQ (talk) 00:43, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I think that will prove really useful. Nevertheless, I think that good articles need less attention that articles that are in that process. Nicoguaro (talk) 01:49, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I also support this initiative 100%. I think that we should to interest the editorial board of scientific journals and the authors of scientific articles to put into the corresponding review articles of Wikipedia their results. For them it will be a great announcement and advertising of their articles, and for Wikipedia replenishment of knowledge. Also it would be nice if the scientific articles in the overview part will refer to Wikipedia. Articles in the Wikipedia should be divided into a brief review page (conservative) and page of the deep knowledge of the material (regularly updated with new data). Dmitry Dzhagarov (talk) 10:32, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I love this idea! Andrew Krizhanovsky (talk) 11:01, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse - We've done this a few times but it would be nice to systematize this! As @Slowking4: mentioned above, we did this with Karen Lemmey at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she critiqued en:The Greek Slave article in a talk with video, and I also did a Skype video call with a scholar (David Frank, University of Oregon) to dissect and correct an article. See this video of my talk from Wikiconference USA for more: [1]. -- Fuzheado (talk) 14:52, 15 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Great idea Flashlack (talk) 11:12, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
  • This does fill a need. To give it the most impact for the effort, Vital Articles should be given preference. Llywrch (talk) 17:31, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
  • As you said, GA and FA are more about form. If we care about the quality of these articles, we need those who are experts in the field to review them as well. Thunderforge (talk) 05:29, 19 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I love the goals this campaign is reaching for, though I am a little skeptical of the methods. Still this is an important goal. As a side note, I think it would be cool, if I had a doctorate in chemistry for example, to be able to have a verified tag on my name so the community knows I'm not lying about my credentials. Lukejodonnell (talk) 17:44, 23 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Endorse. On the English Wikipedia, the featured-article process is almost always about improving writing, style and formatting, because we have so few specialists willing to review. Editors sometimes request off-wiki specialist reviews. I've done this on occasion; it's always helpful and people are very kind about offering their time. It would be wonderful to make it more widely available. SarahSV talk 01:52, 28 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I've proposed some ideas on how to go about this on the talk page here Fixuture (talk) 17:30, 30 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I support the initiative. As part of the Research:Wikipedia Primary School SSAJRP programme, we tried several paths to foster reviews by experts (see process here). Here is a List of all reviews received so far. Practically, some approaches do work but others fail. It is hard in particular to get the experts to do an in-depth review. The other thing I observed is that in most cases, in spite of reviews being published in the talk pages, no one in the community shows up to actually fix what has been outlined as wrong and unsufficient. So a mechanism to facilitate this would be great. Anthere (talk)
  • I also support the initiative for all the same reasons. WP needs a program like this. Atsme📞📧 22:29, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Great idea, I think it is important to build a bridge between WP and the academic world Kenzia (talk) 17:16, 6 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Articles on my academic specialty alone -- cognitive science -- are woefully incomplete, inaccurate, or tonally inappropriate. Professional scholars are an underutilized resource for improving the quality of wikipedia, and I think wikipedia really needs an initiative like this to take a step up in quality. Russell Richie (talk) 03:28, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

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