Grants:Project/AminMDMA/Promoting health literacy globally through Wikipedia-editing assignments in health professional schools

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

statusnot selected
Promoting health literacy globally through Wikipedia-editing assignments in health professional schools
summaryWe intend to grow the pool of editors of Wikipedia’s health-related topics by expanding Wikipedia-editing opportunities for health professional students in their educational settings. We will also study these activities to: 1) identify best practices for Wikipedia editing in health professions, and 2) advance the science of creating open-access health content through crowd-sourcing approaches.
targetEnglish Wikipedia
amount$100,000 USD
organization• Knowledge Diffusion Inc. (DBA Osmosis)
this project needs...
created on00:23, 27 January 2018 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

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

What problem are you trying to solve by doing this project? This problem should be small enough that you expect it to be completely or mostly resolved by the end of this project. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

As of March 2017, Wikipedia had nearly 30,000 articles on medical topics in English that were collectively viewed more than 10 million times per day[1], making it the most popular source for online health information[2]. However most of the content in Wikipedia’s health articles was created by a few hundred dedicated contributors, and approximately 75% of existing articles remain in the “start” or “stub” stage of development.

Embedding Wikipedia-editing into health professions curricula improves article quality while enhancing students’ learning experiences. Expanding these activities broadens the pool of Wikipedia editors. Research that assesses impact of these experiences on students and educators and identifies best practices would further motivate and enable health professional school faculty and students to engage in these activities.

What is your solution to this problem?[edit]

For the problem you identified in the previous section, briefly describe your how you would like to address this problem. We recognize that there are many ways to solve a problem. We’d like to understand why you chose this particular solution, and why you think it is worth pursuing. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

Our team members believe that high quality health information should be freely available to all. Osmosis has taken an open educational practices (OEP) approach to health & medicine education, creating freely available open educational resources (OER) and disseminating them to a global audience. Osmosis videos have been made in collaboration with members of the WikiProject Medicine community and are posted on the relevant Wikipedia pages. For example, the Osmosis video on Zika virus is featured on the English Wikipedia Zika virus page.

In addition, WikiProject Medicine and the UCSF School of Medicine have been working with faculty across multiple health professions schools to offer credit-bearing electives and/or assignments to students who edit Wikipedia within a formal educational environment. For example, in 2017 in the US alone, 117 medical students across 4 medical schools made 3,150 edits to 73 English Wikipedia pages, adding 128,200 words and 18 images to pages viewed over 2 million times. More broadly, in 2017 Wikipedia-editing assignments were integrated into formal educational settings in 10 health professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, and public health, located in the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. These earlier successes with pioneering programs suggest the model is generalizable to other health professional schools. Osmosis created a Wikipedia-editing video in partnership with the Wiki Education Foundation to help other schools optimize chances for success.

While we enthusiastically endorse open access, we also acknowledge the slow pace of change within the academic publishing industry. Consequently, we are also publishing manuscripts in closed-access yet academically prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Our team members have presented work related to OER videos and Wikipedia-editing at national and international conferences and published in Academic Medicine-- the world’s top-ranked medical education journal.

Project goals[edit]

What are your goals for this project? Your goals should describe the top two or three benefits that will come out of your project. These should be benefits to the Wikimedia projects or Wikimedia communities. They should not be benefits to you individually. Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

  1. Grow Wikipedia-editing assignments from 10 to 15 institutions around the world, with a focus on creating partnerships with:
    • a variety of professional schools (e.g. medicine, nursing, pharmacy)
    • schools that enroll the most diverse student bodies, and
    • schools in low/middle-income countries.
  2. Improve the quality of information for each of the 50 highest priority disease topics on Wikipedia, through editing by health professional students and faculty.
  3. Advance the science of crowdsourcing for health content by systematically investigating barriers and best practices for implementation of Wikipedia-editing into formal health professional educational settings and their effects on learners, educators, and uptake by the public of Wikipedia’s health-related content.
  4. Present our work at national and international health professions education conferences and submit at least 3 manuscripts related to this work to peer-reviewed journals as a result of our studies.

Project impact[edit]

How will you know if you have met your goals?[edit]

For each of your goals, we’d like you to answer the following questions:

  1. During your project, what will you do to achieve this goal? (These are your outputs.)
  2. Once your project is over, how will it continue to positively impact the Wikimedia community or projects? (These are your outcomes.)

For each of your answers, think about how you will capture this information. Will you capture it with a survey? With a story? Will you measure it with a number? Remember, if you plan to measure a number, you will need to set a numeric target in your proposal (i.e. 45 people, 10 articles, 100 scanned documents). Remember to review the tutorial for tips on how to answer this question.

  1. Grow Wikipedia-editing assignments. Through existing partnerships, we will reach out to currently-identified Wikipedia champions at health professional schools, including schools in Sub-Saharan Africa to create electives and/or assignments.
  2. Fifty highest-priority diseases. We will coordinate all course assignments across partner sites so that the highest priority topics are covered collectively without duplication of efforts.
  3. Science of crowdsourcing. We will systematically evaluate all Wikipedia-editing courses/assignments across schools and programs. Strategies will include interviewing faculty through focus groups, as well as surveying all students completing these assignments.
  4. Conference Presentations and Manuscripts. We will generate submissions for national and international conference presentations and scholarly manuscripts for health professional education-focused journals.

Do you have any goals around participation or content?[edit]

Are any of your goals related to increasing participation within the Wikimedia movement, or increasing/improving the content on Wikimedia projects? If so, we ask that you look through these three metrics, and include any that are relevant to your project. Please set a numeric target against the metrics, if applicable.

As above, we will quantify number of users, both new and familiar with Wikipedia, and their contributions to Wikipedia pages.

Project plan[edit]


Tell us how you'll carry out your project. What will you and other organizers spend your time doing? What will you have done at the end of your project? How will you follow-up with people that are involved with your project?

  1. Grow Wikipedia-editing assignments. After reaching out to our existing network of 22 partner institutions, we will track our engagement with all interested faculty innovators from initial query through to course/assignment launch and completion. We will share existing materials on how to successfully engage learners in Wikipedia-editing to ensure successful implementation of these learning experiences. So far, electives, once in place, have continued year to year, receiving ongoing institutional support and attracting new students.
  2. Fifty highest-priority diseases. In collaboration with WikiProject Medicine, we will identify the highest priority health topics then coordinate all course assignments across partner sites so that the highest priority topics are covered collectively without duplication of effort. This will involve ensuring no two universities are working on the same Wikipedia pages unless they are collaborating, including with interprofessional teams of students (e.g. medical students at one school working in partnerships with pharmacy students at another school). We will work closely with our video-production team at Osmosis to concurrently produce Osmosis videos to embed alongside the text on the relevant Wikipedia pages.
  3. Science of crowdsourcing. Electives/assignments will provide the basis for a multisite study where we can rigorously investigate the effects of Wikipedia editing in health professions settings (building on previous research)[3]. This research will combine metrics from surveys and focus groups of students and faculty as well as online metrics collected through Wikipedia. We will quantify the inputs (e.g. student and faculty time), processes (e.g. in and out-of-class activities), outputs (e.g words produced, number of edits, images added, etc.), outcomes (e.g. quality of articles, article traffic statistics), and impact (e.g. benefits to students and faculty). Through our surveys and focus groups, we will also characterize barriers to implementation and ways that barriers were overcome, to develop an ideal curricular model for Wikipedia-editing for the health professions.
  4. Conference Presentations and Manuscripts. Working with the consortium of educators that this project will foster, and ideally with the student Wikipedia-editors themselves, we will write scholarly presentations and manuscripts for dissemination to health professional educators. Through these efforts we hope to increase the credibility of Wikipedia among this skeptical audience, therefore enhance its reputation and further engage health professionals in improving health content on Wikipedia.


How you will use the funds you are requesting? List bullet points for each expense. (You can create a table later if needed.) Don’t forget to include a total amount, and update this amount in the Probox at the top of your page too!

  • $52,500 = Protected release time for medical school faculty to pursue this work
  • $10,000 = Expenses associated with conferences where we will present this work (this includes registration fees, travel, accommodations, and printing costs). We are estimating ~$1,000 USD per registration, ~$2,000 travel/accommodations per conference, and 3-5 conferences.
  • $10,000 = Research assistant (for survey administration, focus group scheduling, and other coordination tasks)
  • $20,000 = Research statistician (for statistical analysis of survey and Wikipedia data)
  • $7,500 = Author processing charges for journal publications (open access academic journals routinely charge fees in excess of $2500; while we could publish in peer-reviewed journals without cost, academics in low resources settings without journal subscriptions and the public would not be able to access this work)

Community engagement[edit]

How will you let others in your community know about your project? Why are you targeting a specific audience? How will you engage the community you’re aiming to serve at various points during your project? Community input and participation helps make projects successful.

First, we are already connected with WikiProject Medicine and the Wiki Education Foundation and have access to the Osmosis 22 partner institutions, 100,000 registered health professions student users spread across 750 health professional schools.

Moreover, because we believe in the incredible social good that could come about from improving freely available health information, all of the activities in this project are geared toward growing the community of highly-qualified contributors to Wikipedia’s health articles. In the immediate term, we would be expanding Wikipedia-editing community to include those students and faculty engaged in new electives. In the intermediate term, we would expect many students to continue as contributors, while at the same time, annually more students will be engaging in these assignments (not to mention we hope to have annual growth in number of Wikipedia editing electives/assignments). Longer term, through systematic research and dissemination, we would be both making future Wikipedia-editing more evidence-based and by characterizing the benefits they produce, we would be bringing Wikipedia from the fringes of academic health profession to its mainstream.

Get involved[edit]


Please use this section to tell us more about who is working on this project. For each member of the team, please describe any project-related skills, experience, or other background you have that might help contribute to making this idea a success.

Amin Azzam, MD, MA

Amin Azzam (on Wikipedia as user AminMDMA) is a Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF). Beginning in 2013, he created a pioneering elective course for medical students to receive academic credit for improving health-related information on Wikipedia.  Between 2013 – 2017, a total of 117 students completed his course before others schools began emulating this pioneering work.  In 2017, a total of 117 medical students across 4 US medical schools made 3,150 edits to 73 English Wikipedia health-related pages, adding 128,200 words and 18 images to pages viewed 2,824,300 times.  More broadly, by the start of 2018, Wikipedia-editing assignments were integrated into formal educational settings in 10 health professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, and public health, located in the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Sean Tackett, MD, MPH

Sean Tackett is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and has a career focus in international medical education. He has led medical education research studies on a variety of topics that have used quantitative and qualitative methods. Topics have ranged from characteristics of clinical excellence in academic health centers, nature of accreditation standards for medical schools, and students' perceptions of their learning environments. In his current role as Research Director for Osmosis, he has led studies of technology adoption and implementation and the evaluation of open education resources for health professions education. In addition to conducting research, he practices inpatient general internal medicine, attends on internal medicine teaching services, and teaches curriculum development in Johns Hopkins' faculty development programs.

Shiv Gaglani, MBA

Shiv Gaglani is the co-founder and chief executive officer of, a popular learning platform and video library used by more than 500,000 current & future clinicians as well as patients and family members. Shiv’s primary passion is developing innovative and scalable solutions in the fields of healthcare and education. To this end he curated the Smartphone Physical, which debuted at TEDMED, and the Patient Promise, a movement to improve clinician-patient relationship through partnership in pursuing healthy lifestyle behaviors. Shiv is also an avid writer who has written two educational books, Success with Science and Standing out on the SAT & ACT. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College in 2010 with degrees in engineering and health policy, Shiv began his MD/MBA degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School, from which he graduated in May 2016.

Community notification[edit]

You are responsible for notifying relevant communities of your proposal, so that they can help you! Depending on your project, notification may be most appropriate on a Village Pump, talk page, mailing list, etc.--> Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?

  • we have informed members of the Wikiproject Medicine community
  • we have informed members of the Wiki Education Foundation


Do you think this project should be selected for a Project Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • I am one of the primary authors of this project grant so am role-modeling for others how to endorse it! AminMDMA (talk) 14:42, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
  • This is a well thought out approach to better the quality of health articles on Wikipedia. I see this effort as a means of improving the reliability of Wikipedia as a source for information as well as an excellent opportunity to grow and develop the community of Wikipedia editors. Definitely a project that is worthy of support and attention! Hobryant2011 (talk) 00:37, 10 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Improving Wikipedia through the work of health professional students increases the availability to patients and health care professionals around the world. NewDancinShoes (talk) 07:09, 13 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I am a current medical student who participated in the course this past fall. I worked to improve a wikipedia page related to a health topic in the news today, and I had a tremendous experience doing it. With the support of the course, I was able to significantly improve the content of the article, update the underlying source material which had fallen out of date, and make the article much more approachable and useful to people seeking information about this new health technology. In just the last few months, the article has been viewed more than 16,000 times. For me personally, I have a newfound respect for the power of tools like wikipedia and community-based initiatives like WikiMedicine to meaningfully impact lives by making information widely, radically accessible. BPerkovich (talk) 19:25, 13 February 2018 (UTC)
  • As a medical student who participated in one of these courses, I saw first hand how beneficial it was for new health professionals to feel empowered to get involved in this open access source for medical information and be able to continue to improve wikipedia into the future. I also recognized immediately the impact it could have on the public and patients who so often use these medical pages as their go-to for quick information about important matters, and strongly believe this project should continue to reach as many people as possible. Doc4Man (talk) 23:42, 13 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Will provide a great educational opportunity for student editors and their work will benefit those with less access to vitally important knowledge Joshuanoel (talk) 21:29, 14 February 2018 (UTC)
  • As co-director of the WikiProject Medicine course at University of Central Florida College of Medicine, I fully endorse this project and mission. Our students use Wikipedia daily and giving them the opportunity and time to edit articles not only help them grow professionally, but also leads to a greater number of high quality, reliable information with a global impact factor like no other in medicine. WikiUCFCOM (talk) 13:15, 15 February 2018 (UTC)
  • As the other co-director of the UCF Wikiproject Medicine course at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, I fully support and highly recommend this project and its very important mission. Our medical students feel the power of making healthy changes for the whole world by editing Wikiproject medical articles. This opportunity for making the world a better place by providing accurate health information helps students both professionally and personally as human beings.Ndexter (talk) 18:49, 15 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Over the past two years I have introduced approximately 200 medical students and 26 academics to the possibility of editing and improving WikiProject medicine entries. This project is critical in increasing the contribution of highly educated people to the health literacy of millions more. I fully endorse the project goals for the proposed Wikipedia editing assignments proposal. WikiProject medicine provides information to a vast number of people. Focusing on improving the quality of the 50 highest priority disease topics is, therefore, a very important aspect of this project. Kojecto (talk) 06:40, 16 February 2018 (UTC)
  • It is essential that Wikipedia health articles are the best they can be, and this solution is compelling! Arpesh1 (talk) 22:58, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I want to support this project because Osmosis makes learning about medicine and health easy and painless. I want more resources about health in different mediums that will continue to help people learn. Owenwillis1987 (talk) 23:25, 17 February 2018 (UTC)
  • The Wikipedia Medicine articles are generally really well written so far, but a lot of work in needed to keep them up to date. Projects like this will help keep the material relevant. Kyle slinn (talk) 16:48, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
  • This is a well thought out project that would help not only students, but also people from many countries around the world who are generally interested in learning about health. As a college student majoring in Physiology, I already frequently look up diseases and health concepts on Wikipedia. I know that if I go to medical school, I will definitely be looking up more articles. The Osmosis videos embedded in some of the health articles are very helpful for understanding difficult topics. With vast background knowledge in health, I believe Osmosis would be able to make many articles a lot better, especially in terms of making difficult concepts easier to understand. I am particularly excited about project goal number 2! Willswei (talk) 17:10, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I fully support and endorse this well thought out and impact focussed project. Reliable medical information should be freely available to everyone! Creating an environment where this information is created while enhancing the understanding of our future doctors seems like an amazing idea! Ashwin155 (talk) 17:35, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Potential to drive greater peer collaboration in Medical Education while also making wikipedia a credible source of information for patients and clinicians Thasin-jaigirdar (talk) 17:54, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I will be working directly on this project. Rishi Desai (talk) 22:23, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Not only will this project help people from around the world access accurate and up-to-date health and medical information, it will offer another great way for medical students to study and review during their academic journey as well as encourage them to get involved in a good cause for global education. The individuals charging this project are well qualified and truly have their hearts behind making this work successful. Britnorton27 (talk) 00:51, 19 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Osmosis has done an incredible job of providing content and resources not only to students that can afford it, but also to students around the world who can not through the global open medical education initiative. Brandonnewton31 (talk) 03:13, 19 February 2018 (UTC)
  • A functioning system of easily accessible, worldwide education is on the horizon. With the support of trusted and proven organizations, smaller educational forces can continue revolutionizing the way we learn, by expanding what's available and showing what's possible. Collaborative, open and transparent education has always been the most important and useful type. This is what this project aims to do, and I believe it will be successful. JaffaDM (talk) 06:04, 19 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I believe the work Osmosis is doing is important and will ultimately lead to better educated clinicians, which will result in better patient care. They are a lean, mean, educating machine and they deserve some financial help with their mission. Srmcb (talk) 14:14, 19 February 2018 (UTC)
  • This project will increase health literacy, create a better education through engagement during education, and therefore better patient care. Students and patients use the same resource, Wikipedia, and therefore Wikipedia should be both an empowering and reliable resource. Focusing on the 50 high priority disease topics is a practical approach to making a difference. Heidihildeb (talk) 15:04, 19 February 2018 (UTC)
  • As a recent medical school graduate, I know the importance of Wikipedia as a resource for students. This project will aid in keeping the content up to date and as accurate as possible. Wansuen (talk) 18:54, 19 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Because Osmosis is awesome and they will do a lot of good in the world. Violinagin (talk) 00:45, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I fully endorse this project because it will improve health education for everyone. People around the world will gain access to accurate freely-available health articles that are more mature than the "start" or "stub" stage of development on Wikipedia. The healthcare professionals and students who participate in this project as contributors will enhance students’ learning experiences through active learning. Osmosis is dedicated to open educational resources as is exemplified by their large collection of freely available videos. This project is a win for everyone! KLukas2018 (talk) 02:52, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • As a biology student, I am constantly referencing wikipedia to gather information my own biological studies and to better understand concepts. It is difficult to find reliable, up-to-date, and detailed enough information about biology, health, and medicine. This project will improve this invaluable resource to students -- especially those who can't afford more expensive resources -- and will allow a greater number of students, patients, and health care providers to access quality information. Hillaryacer (talk) 08:41, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • This project is an accessible way to disseminate accurate healthcare information to users around the world for free. I think it's a fantastic use of resources and a great way to engage and teach aspiring clinicians. Vwaldman (talk) 14:30, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • The work of creating open and easily accessible medical knowledge on a global scale is both a noble and necessary endeavor. As such, leveraging the global reach and accessibility of Wikipedia along with the medical insight, healthcare network, and crowdsourcing know-how of Osmosis, this collaboration is an obvious fit. Spartan dev (talk) 15:01, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • It's a practical way to improve open access to more health and medical content. Caleb.furnas (talk) 17:18, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • I think it's super useful to see some of the info in video form as it makes it much easier to understand and digest. Yifanxiao (talk) 18:30, 20 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Osmosis has been leading the pack in aiming to provide reliable and pertinent medical information to medical students and other health professional students around the world. Every student is familiar with Wikipedia and we want Osmosis to further assist in wikipedia editing efforts so we can increase medical literacy and improve health and medical education for people all over the world. This project is invaluable for students or readers who cannot afford other paid-for resources. Creating free and accessible medical knowledge on a global endeavour is something that should be supported. Go Osmosis! Ash.thomps27 (talk) 00:28, 21 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Health literacy is an important topic in this day and age. Not because there is a dearth of information out there, but that which is readily accessible cannot always be trusted. Via this grant, a proven medical information purveyor can improve upon the readily accessible resource of reliable information already used by many health care professionals in advancing their clinical and basic science knowledge. Mhaley1246 (talk) 00:39, 21 February 2018 (UTC)
  • it sounds like a great idea! I think investing in improving access to quality medical information is a great project 15:48, 21 February 2018 (UTC)


  1. Shafee T, Masukume G, Kipersztok L, Das D, Häggström M, Heilman J. Evolution of Wikipedia’s medical content: past, present and future. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017 Aug 24:jech-2016.
  2. Heilman, J., & West, A. Towards “Health Information for All”: Medical content on Wikipedia received 6.5 billion page views in 2013. Retrieved from
  3. Azzam A, Bresler D, Leon A, Maggio L, Whitaker E, Heilman J, Orlowitz J, Swisher V, Rasberry L, Otoide K, Trotter F. Why medical schools should embrace Wikipedia: final-year medical student contributions to Wikipedia articles for academic credit at one School. Academic Medicine. 2017 Feb;92(2):194.