Tips for Editing Wikipedia Articles
ADAPTED FROM WIKI ED’S “EDITING WIKIPEDIA ARTICLES ON CHEMISTRY”
Be accurate: You’re contributing to a resource that
millions of people use to inform themselves about the
world of science!
Understand the guidelines: Wikipedia uses a framework
called the Five Pillars to shape its content. Take time to
read and understand the rules before you start making
Engage with others: Wikipedia is a community of
editors, and part of the experience is receiving and
responding to feedback from others.
Use your own words: Like any writing assignment, plagiarism and close paraphrasing are against the rules.
Play to your strengths: Wikipedia depends on volunteers who write, copyedit, add images to, and organize
articles. Whatever your skill or interest, there’s a way for
you to contribute.
Many academics are embracing Wikipedia as a platform for
public scholarship. Individuals can get involved, and so can
entire classes. In fact, Wiki Ed offers a program to help students
and instructors get the most out of editing Wikipedia. Wiki Ed
has long supported chemistry courses through its Classroom
Program — so many that the organization developed a quick
guide for writing chemistry articles (https://upload.wikimedia.
on_Chemistry_%28Wiki_Ed%29.pdf). So far this year, chemistry
students have contributed more than 400,000 words to Wikipedia. That’s equivalent to about 550 printed pages.
In this unique program, instructors enhance a traditional
writing assignment by asking students to review the available
literature on a course-related topic, synthesize it, and publish
their work to Wikipedia. Wiki Ed provides online trainings for
students, tools for instructors to track student work, and Wikipedia expertise throughout the process. As students pick up
communication, information literacy, and critical thinking skills,
the world gets access to high-quality chemistry research.
As a part of this partnership, Wiki Ed and ACS are working
to create and improve biographies of women chemists, who
remain underrepresented in the encyclopedia. Chemistry students can use Wikipedia’s reach to highlight notable women in
the field and increase their visibility as role models— especially
to budding scientists. Information is advocacy, and students
like you can play a significant part in advocating for women
whose research is largely overlooked.
Tapping into members’ energy
ACS and its members have shown considerable interest in
improving Wikipedia’s chemistry content. The society organized edit-a-thons in Washington, D.C., in San Diego, and at the
252nd ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia. Members received
instruction from knowledgeable Wikipedia contributors about
the rules of editing, and these experts also helped them make
their first edits. Attendees were excited to learn about amplifying their impact by bringing Wikipedia into the classroom.
If you’re a chemistry instructor or student interested in Wiki
Ed initiatives, please visit www.wikiedu.org, or e-mail Wiki Ed
staff at email@example.com.
Jami Mathewson is the educational partnerships manager
at the Wiki Education Foundation.
A University of Mississippi student reviews Wikipedia to select an
article for a classroom assignment.