Wiki Education Foundation/WVS establishment

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1. Identify host libraries[edit]

Places to look for libraries likely to participate, include:

  • Libraries with affiliated faculty participating in the Wikipedia Education Program or institutions with significant education programs already on campus. Librarians frequently become Campus Ambassadors, support design and research for assignments, and if participating in the Education Program be aligned with the values we need for supporting the Visiting Scholars.
  • Expressing interest in social media, for example, those listed at the Special Collections and Social Media site
  • Libraries with Open Access initiatives: perhaps a Visiting Scholar could highlight open access work of interest to them?
  • Libraries with Digital Scholarship or Digital Humanities initiatives that have significant projects of focus (indicating a high density of scholarship and scholarship resources around a topic or field)?
  • Libraries hosting a Wikipedian in Residence: they are already investing in one Wikipedia expert, why not develop another?
  • OCLC member libraries or members of other cooperating partner organizations.

Permitting access to licensed resources[edit]

Many institutions will initially think that offering an outsider access to their licensed resources is difficult, or impossible. But it's not! The model of a research affiliate or visiting scholar is quite well established. Each institution will have a different path or procedure to create such a position but most can.

Here are some words from past partners:

  • "For us it was a no brainer. No one even raised it as an issue, so there was nothing to work out."
  • "No problems over here. Everything worked seamlessly and there were no issues/complaints. Our WVS was set-up with a campus netID through central computing which allowed him access to library databases while he was with us."
  • "At [INSTITUTION] we used an “affiliate” account for our Wikipedia scholar. This account is used for persons engaging in official campus business but who not have an entry in the campus payroll system and in most all cases are not employable by campus payroll. This category is used for consultants on contract, visiting researchers, temporary agency employees or any other identified individuals who, for the benefit of the university, should have access to authenticated electronic communications. The account provides them with a NetID/password and email account. The NetID/password allows the affiliate to access proprietary databases from off campus."
  • "[INSTITUTION] has policies in place for visiting scholars. The scholar has to submit a CV and the scholar, or the sponsoring unit, prepares a workplan or research agenda for the scholar. The dean of the department approves the scholar with a brief justification. Truthfully, I am not sure where it is submitted, but the approval is pro forma. Visiting scholars receive no pay or benefits but are given office space, a temporary netID for accessing licensed resources, etc. so there does need to be a reason for bringing them on board. That being said, no one questions the dean's decision to approve. We chose our wikipedia virtual scholars in part based on strong resumes that made it clear they could be justified as visiting scholars, I wrote the job description/research agenda and the dean's approval (basically, all the paperwork), and there was no pushback at all. We extended the time frame for both visiting scholars and there was no pushback on that, either. [INSTITUTION] is flexible on who can be a visiting scholar. We have had visiting scholars at the university who made a name for themselves in a field of interest who didn't have bachelor's degrees. [INSTITUTION] recognizes that this is a way to bring people in to the university who have a lot to offer who would not have the qualifications for a tenure track faculty position. As long as you have a justification that indicates why you are giving someone this status, they are fine with out of the box thinking."
  • "Because we aren't paying our WVS, [INSTITUTION] is pretty easy on the requirements for such an affiliation. It's only when we are paying someone that it seems to matter. In other words, we hand out library privileges like candy."
  • "It was a no brainer at [INSTITUTION]. We have always had a liberal policy on visiting scholars, which enables departments to appoint people for six months to a year, with an option to renew. They get most of the perks of employment--email, they can purchase a parking tag, use gym facilities and have full library privileges. They simply don't get pay or benefits. I don't think they can teach, because the union would react strongly to that, but they can do one time seminars, work on projects, and do research. We are able to be creative as long as we can justify it. Our business school has brought retired CEOs on board as visiting scholars, so adding one or two was not a problem. It is really at the department head's discretion so I had to sell the library director but after that, the administration won't question it. It's a great program and we have used it to bring in visiting scholars for other projects in the past. I encourage anyone having problems to lobby to change the rules of the visiting scholar program, perhaps using the WVS project as an example of why a liberal policy is useful."

Contacting interested institutions[edit]

Institutions need some lead time to understand the idea, talk it over with their team, get approval from their administration, and create a lightweight supervision plan. Use this document for your outreach emails and personalize the templates as needed.

That document leads the institution to fill out this Google form:

Tracking form responses[edit]

Responses come in here:

It's good to keep a spreadsheet of where interested institutions are in the 'pipeline'.

2. On-boarding hosts[edit]

What the library should have prepared[edit]

Before the first meeting with the library, they should have prepared the following information per WP:WVS:

  • a list of topics of interest to the library
  • knowledge of their university's research affiliate policy (who can approve a person to gain library access)
  • a point of contact for coordinating the position.

Partner schools will probably come with a bunch of questions. Early in the conversation, your main goal should be to listen: figure out where the partner is in both a) wanting to do and b) understanding what is possible by Visiting Scholars. Be ready to talk about other programs of relevance to University Libraries as is described at WP:UNILIB, if their ideas about Visiting Scholars are beyond the scope of a "Visiting Scholar". Don't try to modify their topics unless they ask specifically for recommendations, early in the conversation; wait until you explain more the scope of the application process, to talk about shifting topics to more inclusive fields.

Talking with potential partners[edit]

These topics are described on the WVS page as of importance for the conversation with a partner. They will be expecting to learn more about the following:

Creating a call for applicants: Calls for applicants will typically follow the format familiar to the individual universities. Make sure to emphasize how the calls need to identify Wikipedia experience as important to the expected skills/experience. See the calls created by previous partners for case studies and help in framing the conversation:

  • Montana State University, (specialty, history or environment): Apply to brossmann(_AT_)
  • University of California at Riverside, (specialty, history or science): Apply to afrenkel(_AT_)
  • Rutgers University, (specialty, transdisciplinary): Apply to gagnew(_AT_)
  • George Mason University, (specialty: history) [1] [2]

Disseminating the call: Review the materials discussed below in the communications. Make sure to communicate to the partner that:

  • General listings outside the Wikimedia community likely will not get a "pick-up" but they serve additional purposes:
    • They draw academic awareness of Wikipedia's role in scholarly communities
    • They give a point of press awareness (Press from Wikipedia and Residence calls for applicants have been very positive in general).
  • Visiting scholars likely will not be "local" in that they won't be coming to their physical location very often, so calls might even get international responses.

Reviewing applicant Wikipedia community credentials: Talk about the types of information you will be collecting from candidates, and what you will be looking for in the screening of applications. During this part of the conversation, it may be important to talk about:

  • the kinds of Wikipedians: a) content developer, b) administrative maintenance contributors, c) anti-vandalism, etc. Make sure to qualify how not everyone has all of these experiences.
  • the kinds of academic credentials typical to Wikipedians: most Wikipedians have at least some college experience and/or a bachelor's degree; we have a high rate of graduate degrees within the community, but that should not be expected.
  • how Wikipedia articles fall into genres of conventions (i.e. biographies, places, history, events, novels, chemicals, medicine) and levels of quality – frequently Wikipedians are either bulk creators or quality creators.

Selecting your Visiting Scholar: We only can provide screening and support for investigating the Visiting Scholar's Wikipedia qualifications, ultimately the choice comes down to the University's discretion and capabilities.

On-Boarding the Visiting Scholar: Prepare the point of contact and team to expect working with the Visiting Scholar to establish expectations for the following:

  • Preparing concrete access instructions for both University database materials and for research librarian access. Do they have a particular librarian that they will be working with? Are there particular scholars on campus that they should be in contact with?
  • Which articles the Wikipedian will primarily be working on; remember, Wikipedians work best when interested and invested in a topic.
  • If the Wikipedian has expressed interest in doing activities other than the setting expectations for non-article writing activities, such as GLAM outreach, education outreach or some type of scholarly activity, make (see the suggested other skills/activities in the survey below for more information what these might look like, but also emphasize that these shouldn't be "required"of Wikipedia Visiting Scholars: its a discretionary thing.

Followup monitoring and support.

  • Helping contact a WVS if they are hard to contact (for whatever reason)
  • Help finding contacts/support for expanding the partnership, if, for whatever reason, they want to expand their collaboration to other projects/ tools listed at WP:UNILIB
  • Explain we have a standard method for reporting work on wiki, and both we and the WVS will be able to modify/expand based on their needs.
  • Suggest that the POCs be ready to track, if possible: the Wikipedian's usage of resources, Wikipedia traffic statistics (especially if one of their goals is to cite digital resources available through the special collections

Explain that we expect a "end of term" report, based on a standard set of feedback questions (coming soon). Ask the partner to track comments, concerns and feedback throughout the process. Explain that this information may help the

3. Applications and Call for Candidates[edit]

Application requirements[edit]

Draft questions

We recommend using the following questions for screening applications. The information can be collected as a) cover letter b) Google form or c) general questionnaire.

  • What is your username?
    • Please provide a link to your Wikipedia profile.
  • What is your real name?
  • Please provide information about three Wikipedia articles where you have been a significant contributor and profiles your Wikipedia interests. Provide the following information for each article: a) the title of the article, b) a link to the article, and c) a 1-2 sentence description of your substantive contribution to that article.
  • What about your background makes you a good candidate as a Visiting Scholar for [this institution]? In particular, what about your Wikipedia activities could make you better able to support their libraries interests in particular fields of scholarship?
  • Summarize your current ability to access research materials such as databases and scholarly journals. What gaps do you hope the University will be able to help you fill? What experience do you have using academic research libraries?
  • Based on the subject proposed by the University, where do you think you would start filling gaps on Wikipedia? Where does the library's holdings and materials overlap with interests you have and/or gaps on Wikipedia?
    • Visiting scholars frequently work on both the Library's interests and their own when editing Wikipedia. Provide explicit examples, with links when you plan to expand and/or improve already present content.
  • Visiting Scholars often expand their interaction with the University library beyond writing articles. Which of the following would you be willing or interested in doing?
    • Visiting scholar roles are different from Wikipedians in Residence, in that they aren't expected to focus entirely on outreach and development of capacity at the University. However, Universities may want Wikipedia Visiting Scholars to profile the functional contributions Wikipedia can offer to the academic community through presentations, lectures, workshops and/or direct involvement with scholars. Institutions will see such activities as a bonus, not an expectation, and should be discussed during your on-boarding with the organization.
      • Writing blog posts or newsletter articles for the University Library
      • Working with Faculty on articles of interest to them
      • Giving a lecture or instructional session about Wikipedia
      • Visiting the campus to talk with interested decision makers and faculty about Wikipedia
      • Training librarians, volunteers or faculty in editing Wikipedia
      • Facilitating Wikipedia Education Program Assignments
      • Supporting an editathon
      • Supporting a GLAM-WIki content donation
      • Other:
  • Use this space to further explore what you would like to do in the activities above? What skills or experiences do you doing these types of outreach for the Wikimedia community? In an academic setting? How would these experiences support you being a good Affiliate contributor to the University's scholarly community?
    • Make sure to profile the outreach experience that you have within the Wikipedia community, and how you think it could benefit your role as Visiting Scholar.

Google Form template for WVS applications


Here are the different venues for announcing new Visiting Scholar positions:

  • Create a Watchlist notice: Using the notice below update en:MediaWiki:Watchlist-details or contact an administrator to do so at en:MediaWiki talk:Watchlist-details
  • Announce in Books and Bytes and Signpost: add "in short" announcements to Books and Bytes by asking for the most recent draft from TWL Coordinators and Signpost in the "News and Notes" section at Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/Newsroom.
  • Announce to relevant WikiProjects: Once the other announcement communications have been started, ping all relevant WikiProjects that might be directly interested in the topics of interest.
  • Announce through Social Media: Make sure to ask the library to publicize the announcement widely through social media, blog posts, and others.

Watchlist notice example On en:MediaWiki:Watchlist-details update and add:

 |cookie=Cookie number
 |text= Partner universities are interested in hosting [[WP:WVS|Wikipedia Visiting Scholars]]. Visiting scholar positions are remote, and include full access to library holdings. Apply today.
  • You have to be an admin to edit watchlist notices. Post the message on the talk page and request an admin add it if you are not one.

4. Screening applications[edit]

The ultimate choice of candidate is up to the University. They may want to conduct their own interviews of top candidates and that's great.

For your initial screening, if you recognize the user as a high volume or quality contributor with good community reputation, there is no reason not to pass them on to the library as a suitable candidate; they usually understand what they are applying for. Screen applicants for previous strong investment in creating quality Wikipedia content with the goals of the community in mind. Some indicators of this might be (though not always are):

  • A user page with:
    • Lots of barnstars
    • Lots of DYK, GA, or FA awards
    • Lots of articles include in a list of "Articles created" (this count is frequently different from the official count below, because writing articles over redirects and expanding stubs are not counted in the official numbers).
  • Site Administrator Status (though, sometimes, these users are primarily involved in community processes not content creation)
  • Contribution counts in excess of 15,000 edits (in English Wikipedia, these users are in the top 4300 contributors by volume, in other languages these users are much higher on the list). Beware edit counts: there are some users whose edit counts become inflated by poor editing practices, like the contributions by Greg723. Conversely
  • Article counts in excess of 150 (in English Wikipedia, these users are in the top 3500 contributors by article creation).

Wikipedia Visiting Scholars will be interacting with Libraries and scholars at a University as one of the few representatives of the Wikipedia community that they will ever contact and will provide evidence to the partner of the community's values and strengths. Make sure that the community member does not present significant red flags, such as a history of hostility and disruption on wiki or several extensive community blocks. We neither want to jeopardize our relationship with the University Library through poor behavior on the Scholar's part, nor risk them being banned by the community during the course of their tenure.

Moreover, it's important to make special recommendations to the partner for people who you think will have exceptional knowledge about the community, community outreach, or the field in which they will be writing; if you think someone has the skills or experience to do the role of a Visiting Scholar well, creating and expanding beyond that role to positively impact a growing relationship between the community and the library, make sure to highlight this information for the partner.

5. On-Boarding Visiting Scholars[edit]

The partner should make sure to talk through the following with their new Visiting Scholar:

  • Getting to know the Visiting Scholar better in general, discussing things like scholarly and academic background and interests.
  • Getting to know the research competency of the Visiting Scholar: do they need training in your research environment? Do they understand using the catalogue, federated search, and the individual search tools? Do you have a link resolver or some other tool that can help? Does the Visiting Scholar know how to use Interlibrary Loan or similar services?
  • Setting up expectations for communications and reporting.
  • Opportunities for collaboration with content-experts, librarians or other faculty at the university.
  • Discuss if any additional opportunities for communications or outreach would be of interest with the visiting scholar: for example, would you be interested in hosting the visiting scholar for a presentation or talk on campus?

6. Processes for Visiting Scholars[edit]


Scholar check-ins with University partners It's important to make sure that the Visiting Scholar checks in in with the University contact at least once every two months. Expectations for this communication should be established in the on-boarding with your partner. Consider how frequently your contact will need to be updated and the process of update (office meeting, email, Skype, Hangout, phone call, etc.).

Wikipedia check-ins with University partners TWL organizers should check in with each University 3–4 months after it starts and after 9–12 while it is wrapping up. You can use this WVS Check-in Form.

Declaring your role on your user page[edit]

Like our recommendations for GLAM professionals and for members of the Wikimedia community, it's a good idea to be transparent about your role with organizations and its effect on your Wikipedia work. Thus we recommend you declare that you are a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar with whichever university is sponsoring you. By linking back to the TWL Visiting Scholar page, users should understand your role within the community, and be able to have a point of reference for your work.

Also add the following template to your en user page: {{Wikipedia:TWL/WVS/Userbox|university = School Name}}

{{Wikipedia:TWL/WVS/Userbox|university =UNIVERSITY NAME}}

Documenting contributions[edit]

Wikipedia Visiting Scholars should make sure to document on-wiki, in a transparent way, the contributions that you made as part of your WVS access. For example, see the documentation done by Mike Cline for Montana State University or Wehwalt at George Mason University or Chris Troutman at University of California Riverside. We recommend creating a subpage of your user page, where you can add these details for both community and partner perusal. Things to document as you go that will make reporting easier at the end of the term:

  • The name of the page that you worked on
  • Any community processes that you place the page through, for example, DYK, GAN, FAN, or PR.
  • Significant dates that affected the article (for example when the DYK went live, or when the article moved from draft to public space).
  • Any particular resources available from that library that you found useful, such as a scholar you were put in contact with, copies of a physical book provided by the library, etc.

Additionally, these give you some "raw" data on how much your work is effecting the particular items:

  • Number of references added to that page during your editing process.
  • Changes in Bytes to the articles you edited.
  • Monthly page views to the articles you edited.

Reporting contributions[edit]

After documenting the contributions, it should be a fairly simple process for the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar to convert this information into a final "report" of use for your partner. Remember to thoroughly use the documentation that you collected throughout the semester to better understand what you did. Organizations like libraries also like numbers: try representing the information with different forms of number impacts. If you didn't know already, here are some numbers that can be applied to Wikipedia articles:

Lastly, universities would be very interested in just having a link to the [:Category] of articles about them. Just sharing that link with them will help them see where content about them exists, and also where it is lacking.