Remember in high school when teachers would always tell you not to use Wikipedia because of its "unreliable information"? Haha yeah, me too.
January 15 was Wikipedia Day! Can you believe the website was started only in 2001? It feels like it has been around forever and, for many of us, is an everyday part of our lives. What did we do before Wikipedia?! Oh yeah, we used books (librarian joke:). For over two decades, Wikipedia has remained free, which is huge in a world where information is usually available for a price. It also remains user-generated, where information can be entered, removed, and edited by just about anyone. This fact often leads to its reputation as an unreliable source but we like to argue that even though anyone can edit it, more importantly, just about anyone can access it. Plus, communities of editors, such as Wikiproject Medicine, are working to ensure the content is reliable.
Despite the bad reputation, there is a lot of good that Wikipedia brings. In fact, some of our future doctors have edited Wikipedia themselves, adding their knowledge and expertise to the world's encyclopedia. In 2018 and 2019, our very own librarian worked with medical education faculty to run a Wikipedia editing course. The idea behind the course was to boost lifelong learning and information literacy skills through hands-on editing. Students chose a topic, researched it, and made edits to improve the article. Trust us; there was something very satisfying about watching the work come alive right before your very eyes! Check out the article that resulted from the experience:
Kahili-Heede, M. K., Patil, U., Hillgren, K. J., Hishinuma, E., & Kasuya, R. (2022). Library instruction and Wikipedia: investigating students' perceived information literacy, lifelong learning, and social responsibility through Wikipedia editing. Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA, 110(2), 174–184. https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2022.1291
Whether looking up some facts or just having a good time, Wikipedia Day is a great excuse to try editing on your own. To get started, we suggest:
Azzam, A., Bresler, D., Leon, A., Maggio, L., Whitaker, E., Heilman, J., Orlowitz, J., Swisher, V., Rasberry, L., Otoide, K., Trotter, F., Ross, W., & McCue, J. D. (2017). Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia: Final-Year Medical Student Contributions to Wikipedia Articles for Academic Credit at One School. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 92(2), 194–200. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000001381
Gwinyai Masukume (2020) Why and how medical schools, peer-reviewed journals, and research funders should promote Wikipedia editing, Studies in Higher Education, 45:5, 984-989, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2020.1749796
Jemielniak D. (2019). Wikipedia: Why is the common knowledge resource still neglected by academics?. GigaScience, 8(12), giz139. https://doi.org/10.1093/gigascience/giz139
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