The study found that Wikipedia affects science

    Humanity has limited access to the most complete sources of scientific knowledge - scientific journals. In many ways, such a sad picture emerged due to the commercial policies of publishing houses and paid subscriptions, as well as the assumption that the fact of publication in a “paid” magazine is proof of the scientific significance of the discovery.

    Unlike publishers, most people understand that free scientific knowledge is a blessing for all (and this benefit is more than “filtering” quality articles in authoritative publications, see the Arrow information paradox). There are a number of research projects that are funded mainly from government subsidies, while being open for free. These are, for example, banks of physical objects, such as seed banks and repositories of model organisms — a number of studies show that the creation of such open banks contributed to scientific activity in this direction. There are also free informational repositories open to everyone, such as the Human Genome Project or StackOverflow.com (source of knowledge in computer programming).

    Wikipedia is the world's largest source of scientific information for the general public. This is generally the 5th most popular site on the Internet. Now a couple of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pittsburgh have published a scientific articlein favor of the fact that Wikipedia contributes to the dissemination of scientific knowledge, it is read and used by scientists, put links to it in their scientific works, and Wikipedia largely forms the direction of scientific research in principle.

    In their article, the authors quote Charles Darwin from his letter to his fellow biologist Thomas Henry Huxley in 1865: “I sometimes think that common and popular tracts are almost as important for the progress of science as the original work”. After all, his “Origin of Species” was both an outstanding scientific work and a bestseller.

    The number of scientific articles in the English-language Wikipedia, depending on the definition and methods of calculation, from 500 thousand to 1 million. The authors say that in the field of chemistry, which was checked for the experiment, 93% of scientific articles explain the topic at the level of initial courses of specialized universities, 47% of articles explain the topic at the senior level.



    At this level, it is completely obvious that Wikipedia objectively reflects science. But the question is how does it affecton science, how much do scientists read Wikipedia, and can Wikipedia affect the activity of scientific research?

    In this case, the topic was studied using two approaches. First, the calculation of the occurrence of scientific terms on the pages of Wikipedia and on the pages of scientific journals. The authors have processed the complete history of edits of all articles (20 terabytes of data) and all full versions of articles of two thousand Elsevier scientific journals since 1995 (0.6 terabytes).

    Of course, these vocabulary bases overlap in many ways. Thus, 61% of words from scientific literature are found in Wikipedia, and 63% of the words from the latter are found in scientific literature. However, the relative frequency of words in some cases is noticeably different.
    Word Place in the scientific literature Wikipedia location
    Acid 59 65
    Reaction 32 132
    Graphene 2143 3099
    Photovoltaic 5764 7651
    Gravity 6139 2375
    Pokemon 745 676 14,485

    In their measurements, scientists, of course, made an amendment to the language drift, that is, the change in the frequency of terms with time.


    Changing the frequency in time of some terms in chemistry The

    second approach is experimental. Experts on certain topics were asked to write a series of articles for Wikipedia. Then the random half of these articles was actually published on the site, and the second half was kept as a control sample. Subsequently, scientists studied how the frequency of words from published articles and from the control group increased in the scientific literature. The results of the experiment confirmed the hunch: there were more words from Wikipedia articles in the literature. This proves that Wikipedia really has an impact on current research.



    The introduction of certain information to Wikipedia affects future research. This means not only the great importance of Wikipedia itself, but also the great importance of open scientific knowledge in principle. An article behind a paid firewall is much less likely to have an impact on the scientific community and on society as a whole than an article is in the public domain. It turns out that the open publication of articles is a very cost-effective way to develop science. This benefit is much more than the benefit from “filtering” articles in paid journals.

    The authors of the scientific work are confident that it is now inappropriate to say that Wikipedia is simply a source of well-known knowledge.

    Also popular now: