Below is a summary and minutes of the 2nd Meeting of the Wikimedia Research Committee. The meeting took place on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 5PM UTC (3 months after the first meeting of the committee).
- Dario (DT)
- Ziko (ZvD)
- WereSpielChequers (WSC)
- Yaroslav (YB)
- Giota (PA)
- Daniel (DM)
Couldn't make it:
The date and time were decided via a Doodle poll and the meeting took place for a second time on a Saturday at 5pm UTC (which appears to be the most convenient option for most RCom members so far). A pre-meeting mail was circulated by DT on RCom-l introducing the agenda. Before the meeting, a new area of interest (Expert Involvement) was created. The meeting was held via a Skype conference call with the support of an EtherPad created by DM on science3point0.com (PiratePad turned out to be unreliable). The meeting had significantly less participants than the first one (6 out of 13), but was also more efficient and had less technical issues than the previous one. It lasted ca. 90' and notes in the EtherPad were mostly taken by PA who did a great job at keeping track of the discussion.
The goals of the 2nd meeting were: to discuss the prioritisation of the areas of interest, to identify area coordinators when needed and to identify a set of short-term tasks within these areas of interest which RCom members could focus on over the next months.
DT introduced the meeting. Having recently started to work for the WMF and at Erik's request, he announced that he would become the default contact point between the RCom and the Foundation from now on. The first item discussed in the meeting was prioritisation. It was agreed that the idea of prioritising Areas of Interest should not result in a ranking by priority of areas themselves but in the identification of tasks within a subset of these areas that could realistically be implemented in a 3-6 months timeframe (i.e. in a max. 6-month timeframe we should have output to circulate outside the RCom). Taking the amount of RCom activity on Meta as a proxy for possible high-priority tasks, we focused the discussion on the following areas:
- supporting the development of a subject recruitment procedure
- developing an open-access policy as a requirement for significant support from the Wikimedia Foundation
- discussing effective strategies to get experts involved in article feedback/quality assessment.
Subject recruitment procedure (SRP)
Some preliminary content on subject recruitment has been added to the RCom pages by Aaron, who unfortunately could not attend the meeting. It was decided to follow up the conversation on the RCom list, thinking of a potential document on subject recruitment to be drafted within the next 3 months. DT mentioned that work on a SRP should be done in concertation with people at the Foundation who are currently defining the technical specs for a standard survey platform for editor recruitment.
Open-access policy (OAP)
DM gave a short overview of his preliminary proposal for an OAP. DT suggested potential barriers to the implementation of this policy, related to the problem of the low reputation of OA outlets in many fields and as well as publication fees that are usually required to publish articles as OA, both conditions potentially raising a barrier for junior researchers. DM responded on how to cope with these limitations and suggested (as already done on the talk page of this area of interest) that a policy focused on OA archiving (as opposed to OA publishing) for works published by Romeo's green publishers could be an acceptable compromise. Several issues were raised by WSC and others, regarding the implications of this policy for the licensing of datasets (not only publications). It was agreed that OAP should focus on publications and that a separate area of interest (linked to the current one) should be created to discuss recommendations (if not requirements) for open licensed data to be used as part of these publications (as well as related issues of privacy and informed consent). DM accepted to take the lead of OAP and to try and put together a draft of the policy with contributions from other interested RCom members. The final draft of OAP will be presented (with a request for feedback) to the Wikimedia community via a Signpost article and to the research community via Wiki-Research-L and other appropriate outlets.
Expert involvement (EI)
DT presented the goals of this new area of interest, that he recently created in collaboration with DM and PA. The focus of this area of interest is on identifying strategies to increase the involvement of experts as either contributors or reviewers of existing articles of scientific interest. The first short-term goal should be to run and publish the results of a survey aimed at understanding participation barriers for experts and academics in general. The survey is currently running as a pilot and we are collecting feedback on its design. A production-ready version of the survey will be prepared in January based on feedback received and it will be widely circulated via both Wikimedia lists + Signpost and general academic lists to cover the broadest possible sample of participants and disciplinary spectrum. The second short-term task within this area will be to analyse and extend the review model of the Encyclopedia of Life presented by Erik in a recent post of the Wikimedia Blog. PA and YB noted that GLAM communities as well as the Public Policy Initiative are very relevant testbeds to consider for this model. WSC noted that the final goal of this subtask should be on getting experts to contribute rather than merely review articles and it was suggested that we study the implications of this model and run it as a pilot in order to avoid tensions between external reviewers and the community (which often does include subject matter experts). YB and WSC also noted that an extensive discussion on a similar topic already took place on the strategy wiki and they will help to summarise and highlight the results of this discussion in the RCom pages. As many RCom members sounded very interested in this area of interest, it was decided not to nominate a coordinator.
DT mentioned that WMF is starting an informal collaboration for research projects with a number of external groups/teams and that RCom should have an active role in bringing awareness of new projects to the community and to try and bridge the gap between Wikipedia contributors and researchers (either WMF staff or external partners) on projects of common interest. We will address possible solutions to minimise the attrition between researchers and the community in the dedicated areas of interest. We will have to think of how to make the current canonical list of Wikimedia research projects an active place where researchers and community members can discuss research priorities and point people to previous work (so as to avoid redundancy). WSC suggested that the community could be more involved via a "call for researchers" inspired by the current system to initiate calls for bot developers in Wikipedia and will draft a proposal on how to implement this procedure.
Key take-aways and next steps
- RCom will focus on delivering some preliminary output in the above areas to be circulated outside the committee within the next 3-6 months.
- Progress on the tasks above will be tracked on the list and discussed at the next RCom meeting.
- The discussion of long term goals will continue as RCom members see fit and independently from the above high-priority tasks.
- It was agreed that we should try and hold regular RCom meetings every 2 months with a minimum duration of 1.5h. More frequent ad-hoc discussions with smaller groups should take place on specific areas of interest and their output summarised on Meta.
The next RCom meeting will be held in about 2 months (mid February)