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Wikimedia+Libraries/Program/Submission/Don’t Cite it, Write it!: Encouraging Academic Participation in Wikipedia

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Title of your proposal[edit]

Name(s) and/or username(s)[edit]

Bakheet Almatrafi, User:BAKHEET555
PhD student in Applied Linguistics, the University of Memphis. Language instructor, Umm Al-Qura University.


  • Future Research - What are the initiatives/research that need to be done?

Type of submission (Please choose one)[edit]

  • Individual Presentations (15 minutes)

Keywords and hashtags[edit]

Keywords: Wikipedia-based assignments, Editing articles, academic skills, Public writing, peer review skills


Academics find Wikipedia unreliable, and thus they object of using it as a reference source, often banning their students from the encyclopedia altogether. In fact, Michael Gorman, the former president of the American Library Association, was once quoted as saying that, “A professor who encourages the use of Wikipedia is the intellectual equivalent of a dietician who recommends a steady diet of Big Macs with everything.” This was in 2007. More recently, a Wikipedian named Steven Pruitt made his 3 millionth edit. When asked about his motivations to volunteer, in an interview airing on CBS news, Steven responded, “the idea of making it all free fascinated me.” The contrast between academic attitudes and the volunteer spirit of Wikipedians like Steven demonstrates the gap between digital initiatives for public knowledge creation and the more closed and traditional academic systems. However, researchers and teachers are beginning to close that gap by paying attention to the ways engaging with Wikipedia can enhance education (Cummings, 2020; Hood, 2018; Purdy, 2020).

In recent years, furthermore, a number of academics have embraced the encyclopedia as providing a space for innovative pedagogy. Approaches vary, but one of the most popular Wikipedia-based assignments asks students to directly edit and improve articles in Wikipedia related to their course content (Vetter et al., 2019). In the process, they perform research, practice reference-based writing in a specific genre and for a public audience, and engage in digital collaboration and technical computing tasks. In this presentation, I will consider the multiple opportunities Wikipedia provides academics (both students and instructors) to make active contributions to public knowledge, resulting in improving their academic skills such as source evaluation, collaboration, literature review and peer review skills. The distrust the encyclopedia by academics is not completely unfounded; in fact, multiple content gaps make many Wikipedia articles under-developed and inaccurate. However, instead of viewing this as a reason to completely ignore or even ban the encyclopedia from our classrooms, we should see it as an opportunity to further develop and improve Wikipedia by leveraging resources at institutions of learning.

My presentation on this topic will include my own experience editing an article related to my field of study. My ultimate goal is to encourage academics as well as students to contribute and utilize their expertise, especially given Wikipedia’s dominant status as the fifth most visited website. Finally, I will share resources and strategies for teaching Wikipedia-based assignments.

Expected outcomes[edit]

  • Clarifying misunderstandings about Wikipedia’s transparency and reliability.
  • Encouraging teachers and academics to allow their students to contribute to editing articles in Wikipedia.
  • Encouraging academics to utilize their expertise in editing articles.
  • Equipping attendees with resources and strategies for teaching wikipedia-based assignments.
  • Providing attendees with ideas for future research directions.

Duration (without Q&A)[edit]

15 minutes

Specific requirements[edit]

I just need a projector.

Interested attendees (Please add yourself, and you may indicate your questions to the presenter).[edit]

  1. AfricanLibrarian Understanding how to totally change the academic prejudice about Wikipedia is an area we could use some insights for dealing with in Africa. AfricanLibrarian (talk) 19:41, 14 June 2022 (UTC)[reply]
  2. EriedgenArc (talk) 12:00, 23 June 2022 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Matthewvetter (talk) 15:29, 12 July 2022 (UTC)[reply]