Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Research Fund/How Does Wikipedia Disseminate Science

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statusnot funded
How Does Wikipedia Disseminate Science?
start and end datesJuly 2023 - July 2024
budget (USD)48,000.00 USD
fiscal year2022-23
applicant(s)• Dylan Walker and Hyunuk Kim



Dylan Walker and Hyunuk Kim

Affiliation or grant type

Chapman University; Boston University Metropolitan College


Dylan Walker and Hyunuk Kim

Wikimedia username(s)

Project title

How Does Wikipedia Disseminate Science?

Research proposal[edit]


Description of the proposed project, including aims and approach. Be sure to clearly state the problem, why it is important, why previous approaches (if any) have been insufficient, and your methods to address it.

Wikipedia plays a critical role in digesting scholarly and scientific knowledge and making it accessible to the general public. To what extent does it achieve the mission of “overcoming social, political, and technical barriers” in disseminating such knowledge? Recent work has mapped scholarly and scientific citations in Wikipedia. Yet, an understanding of how digested science on Wikipedia pages is disseminated to the general public is not known. We will tackle this question by looking at how Wikipedia acts as a “disseminator of science” both by looking at direct consumption and through diffusion (sharing).

First, we will examine how Wikipedia moderates public consumption of digested science through direct consumption. We will break down the consumption of Wikipedia pages that cite scholarly and scientific work by domain and topic of science articles and relate it to public funding of that science. We will attribute consumption of Wikipedia pages (pageviews) to the scientific articles that they cite. Do Wikipedia pages confer more attention to some types or domains or topics of science than others? How does this compare to public investment (funding)? We will study how “Wikipedia as a disseminator of science” faces and potentially circumvents language barriers and access barriers. For example: To what extent does Wikipedia digest scholarly and academic work in English and make it available to non-English speakers? Do low resource language editions of Wikipedia confer different attention to domains or topics of science as compared to English Wikipedia? To what extent do Wikipedia pages cite scientific articles that are behind a paywall? When personal preprints or other publicly accessible versions of scientific articles are available, are they linked to citations in Wikipedia?

Second, we will look downstream to understand how Wikipedia moderates public consumption of digested science through the broader fabric of the internet. Wikipedia pages are shared through a variety of channels including social media and aggregator sites (e.g., Twitter, YouTube, Reddit). How do these different channels convey attention to science through Wikipedia? We will use available APIs (YouTube, Twitter API) and data ( Reddit data) to study how Wikipedia pages that mediate access to science are shared and what engagement they foster.




Approximate amount requested in USD.

48,000.00 USD

Budget Description

Briefly describe what you expect to spend money on (specific budgets and details are not necessary at this time).

25k - PhD Student support: We will support a PhD student for approximately one year

10k - Summer effort: This will provide summer effort support for Dylan Walker and Hyunuk Kim.

8k - Equipment: We will purchase a computer to analyze data for the research project.

5k - Open access fee: To support open access publishing of our paper.


Address the impact and relevance to the Wikimedia projects, including the degree to which the research will address the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction and/or support the work of Wikimedia user groups, affiliates, and developer communities. If your work relates to knowledge gaps, please directly relate it to the knowledge gaps taxonomy.

Our proposed research relates directly to the knowledge equity aspects of the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction.

  • Overcoming Access Barriers: Wikipedia provides a means to convey science to the public who often do not have direct access to science due to paywalls and are not familiar with scientific jargon.
  • Beyond English Wikipedia: Wikipedia can overcome language barriers by digesting science from articles mostly written in English and summarizing and describing them in a low resource language edition.


Plans for dissemination.

We will write articles that describe our research and findings and publish them in top general interest or field journals (e.g., Proceedings of the National Academy of Science; Information Systems Research).

Past Contributions[edit]

Prior contributions to related academic and/or research projects and/or the Wikimedia and free culture communities. If you do not have prior experience, please explain your planned contributions.

Dylan Walker co-authored an article with Kai Zhu on addressing information poverty in Wikipedia that won the 2020 Wikimedia Research Award of the Year. He has also published numerous studies on how information and behavior diffuse on online social networks that were published in Science, Management Science, and other journals.

Hyunuk Kim has published research quantifying the structure of science and technology from large-scale bibliographic databases and has worked on the consumption of knowledge on social media.

I agree to license the information I entered in this form excluding the pronouns, countries of residence, and email addresses under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. I understand that the decision to fund this Research Fund application, the application itself along with all the information entered by my in this form excluding the pronouns, country of residences, and email addresses of the personnel will be published on Wikimedia Foundation Funds pages on Meta-Wiki and will be made available to the public in perpetuity. To make the results of your research actionable and reusable by the Wikimedia volunteer communities, affiliates and Foundation, I agree that any output of my research will comply with the WMF Open Access Policy. I also confirm that I have read the privacy statement and agree to abide by the WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.