Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Research Fund/Reliable sources and public policy issues: understanding multisector organisations as sources on Wikipedia and Wikidata

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Reliable sources and public policy issues: understanding multisector organisations as sources on Wikipedia and Wikidata
start and end datesJuly 2023 - July 2024
budget (USD)45,000 USD
fiscal year2022-23
applicant(s)• Amanda Lawrence



Amanda Lawrence

Affiliation or grant type

RMIT University


Amanda Lawrence

Wikimedia username(s)

Amanda Lawrence: User:AmandaSLawrence

Project title

Reliable sources and public policy issues: understanding multisector organisations as sources on Wikipedia and Wikidata

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.

A key part of Wikimedia’s defence system against mis/disinformation is its content and citation policies however Wikipedia’s reliable sources policies are still grounded in traditional notions of the research publishing economy as primarily commercial and scholarly publishers and mainstream news media. This is problematic for public policy and public interest topics which tends to have a more diverse media economy of sources, including organisations based in government, civil society, education and commercial sectors, and genres such as reports, policy briefs, fact sheets and datasets.

Public policy is a complex, dynamic and multicentric environment and this is reflected in the diverse publishing ecosystem producing policy-related research including International NGOs, national government agencies, think tanks and research centres. Publications produced by organizations (grey literature) are often more timely and accessible and provide perspectives from community and Indigenous organizations, however some are also partisan and funded by commercial or vested interests – making evaluation of sources challenging.

This research project seeks to understand the extent that policy research reports and papers from organisations are being cited on Wikipedia, what kinds of sources are being cited and how can editors and readers be supported in evaluating their credibility. It will analyse and extend existing research from English Wikipedia (including Avieson 2022; Ford et al. 2013; Lewoniewski 2022; Luyt 2021; Singh et al. 2021; Wong et al. 2021) the Missing Link Project, funded by a WMF Alliance grant in 2022. The research will involve mapping organisations and genres across key topics on English Wikipedia including analysis by location, topic area, sector and genre, and provide recommendations for improving guidelines that better reflect the complexity of the research publishing ecosystem. Wikidata will also be used to analyse and collect data, classify policy sources and genres and visualise key policy networks.

The project will provide new insights not only for Wikimedia but also for the wider evidence and policy research community. It will also help to strengthen Wikipedia’s verifiability processes and Wikimedia’s role as a leader in digital and media literacy and education – helping to deliver the 2030 Movement Strategy as essential infrastructure of the free knowledge ecosystem.


  • Amanda Lawrence, Research Fellow, School of Media and communications, RMIT University
  • Angel Felipe Magnossao de Paula, School of Computer sciences, RMIT University and Universitat Politècnica de València


  • Julian Thomas, Advisor, Prof Media and Communications, RMIT University, Australia
  • Mark Sanderson, Advisor, Prof Computer Science, RMIT University, Australia
  • Heather Ford, Advisor, Assoc Prof, Media and Communications, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Brigid Van Wanrooy, Advisor, Analysis & Policy Observatory
  • Alex Lum, User:Canley, Advisor, Wikimedia Australia


Approximate amount requested in USD.

45,000 USD

Budget Description

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

The main expenditure is for a part-time salary estimated at 2-3 days per week for 9-12 months based on an Australian academic salary level B (US$75,000 plus 37% on costs pro rata). Equipment and software will be provided in kind or open source. A small provision is included for travel and workshops to engage with researchers and the Wikimedia community and share findings.


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.

The research builds on my previous work and extends it to Wikimedia. At a broader level, the project supports the 2030 Movement strategy in four key areas: Improve user experience: by supporting editors working on public policy issues to identify reliable sources from a wider range of reputable sources; manage internal knowledge: improving guidelines and processes for dealing with organisations as reliable sources for social and policy issues; Identify topics for impact: supporting the editing process on key public policy issues such as climate change, social inclusion and public health; innovate in free knowledge: improving the way organisation publications are managed making them easier to find and evaluate for the wider community.


Plans for dissemination.

Research progress will be documented on Meta and the Open Science Framework (OSF) and via presentations and training – online and in person. Results will be disseminated through academic open access journal articles, briefing papers via Zenodo, websites and social media, as a report on Meta and via presentations to the Wiki community and the wider public policy and research community. Data will be made available via Zenodo or OSF and demonstrations and visualisations created using Wikidata.

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.

I have been involved in the open access movement since 2006 as a librarian and researcher and I am currently a Research Fellow, Open Knowledge Systems, and Wikimedian in Residence at RMIT University. Prior to this role I was director of an open access digital repository for 12 years. I have published journal articles, book chapters, reports and submissions and have a PhD on research publishing and public policy. I have been editing Wikipedia since 2015 and joined the Wikimedia Australia committee in 2020 and became President in 2022. This project brings together two of my key interests in a unique way that has rarely been explored and I believe will be of enormous value to Wikimedia and the open knowledge movement.

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.