Report Workshop on Wikipedia & Research- Open Knowledge Conference 2011
The main message was the fact that the room was packed, around 50 people, some of them even sitting in the floor. In a tweet, Philipp Schmidt from P2P University commented: "mayo: wikipedia research community growing and diversifying. I remember meetings with 5 people, now the room is packed. Great!". The attendance at the workshop is a sign that there is high interest in the question of promoting research around Wikipedia. Furthermore, the good response could be seen from a double perspective: because addressing the questions is being seen as important per se, but also in terms of good timing - a question of the right moment.
Since 2005, there has been an increasing interest within the scientific community in researching Wikipedia. Then years after Wikipedia started, in 2011, research on Wikipedia keeps growing, with a body of research and a community of researchers in place. In this regard, according to a recent review, there is a total of 2,100 peer-reviewed articles and 38 doctoral theses related to Wikipedia. The willingness to collaborate, to make use of synergies between research initiatives of various kinds, and the willingness to continue innovating (in what is already constituting one of the leading nodes of methodological innovation) have also increased and continue to mature. It seems that in 2011 and the coming years, we will see not only the continuation in terms of a quantitative increase, but also a qualitative jump towards a more organized and challenging stage of research initiatives from and around Wikipedia. In this regard, it transmits the impression that 2011 and the coming years will bring about important changes at the research level, and the initiative of research promoted by Wikipedia (not only about Wikipedia) will be very well received.
During the workshop, Mathias Schindler (from Wikimedia Deutschland) presented the RENDER project - a research project looking at knowledge diversity, which is the first experience of a Wikimedia Chapter engaging in a large research projects with other research partners at the European level.
Mayo Fuster Morell (member of the Research Committee of the Wikimedia Foundation, WMF) presented how Wikipedia had evolved over the years. From quantitative analysis of large data sets and on the English version of Wikipedia as the predominant approach in early empirical research on Wikipedia. To then the focus being expanded to conducting research on other language versions, covering a larger variety of issues, such as socio-political questions, and also adopting qualitative methods. She also presented the Research Committee, a committee created by the WMF staff consisting of Wikimedia volunteers, researchers, and Wikimedia Foundation staff with the mandate to help organize policies, practices and priorities around Wikimedia-related research - http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Committee).
Daniel Mietchen (likewise a member of the Research Committe of the WMF) presented the draft for an open access and open data policy of the WMF as a requirement for research projects receiving significant WMF support.
Benjamin Mako Hill (Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board member and intellectual property researcher at MIT, among others) was also present, but stepped back from his planned intervention in favor of allowing time for debate.
During the discussion, the question of open data was the central theme of interest to the floor. Other than that, interest was also expressed in the question of data repositories.
But time finished quickly. With a schedule of 30 minutes for four speakers, interest was high, but a bit unhappy to be so short. It remains clear continuation of the discussion and occasions to meet and develop things together around Wikipedia research and promoting another way of doing research are needed and celebrated.
Links to the workshop description: