Long term impact of Wikimedians in Residence (2018)

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Wikimedia UK Wikimedians in Residence programme long term view (2012-2018)

January 2018. Daria Cybulska with support from Peter Williams, Amida Consulting


Purpose of the report

This report will be of interest to anyone wanting to find out what longer term impact Wikimedia UK is making within the Wikimedian in Residence (WIR) programme, and what change this work is bringing about within host institutions in enabling content improvements on Wikimedia projects, and creating ambassadors for open knowledge within and beyond host organisations. As such it will be of interest to cultural or educational institutions that are exploring the potential of open knowledge and the benefits of working with Wikimedia UK.

The report will also be useful to organisations within the Wikimedia movement to learn what wider and longer term impact can be expected from setting up residencies, how to maximise that impact over the short and long term, and understand more about setting up and delivering long term monitoring evaluation of Wikimedia partnership projects.

Wikimedia UK first reviewed its Wikimedian in Residence programme in 2014, looking at improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of residencies while they were being run. The learning from that review fed into operational changes to how the charity sets up, manages and supports Wikimedians in Residence in the UK.

Now that our WIR programme is maturing, and partner organisations are becoming increasingly focused on sustainability and change (rather than immediate outputs), there is a strong imperative to provide further insights about best practice around creating more open institutions, capturing the learning from previous and current residencies, and describing possible barriers. This review therefore considers the impact made by the residency programme; by which we mean longer term changes in activity and perspective. In particular, we look at the legacy created by residencies - both within and beyond our partner institutions - after the residency itself has come to an end.

We are reflecting on whether the Wikimedians in Residency projects delivered by Wikimedia UK have achieved what we were expecting. We are also exploring the barriers to achieving impact, whether they lie in Wikimedia UK’s design and delivery of the programme, our partners’ culture, policies and personnel, or the wider technological and political environment. We can then describe a range of different impacts - both those that the programme was designed to deliver and those that arose from the rich interaction of people, institutions and sectors.