Accepted Paper:

Wikipedia as Open Science: non-expert involvement in controversial scientific issues  

Authors:

Eduard Aibar (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
Maura Lerga (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, UOC)

Paper short abstract:

This study considers Wikipedia as a sui generis instance of Open Science and analyses how the non-expert or lay character of the average Wikipedia editor and the open and collaborative model of this free encyclopaedia are actually shaping the way controversial scientific issues are presented.

Paper long abstract:

Wikipedia is nowadays the 7th most visited site in the Internet and is usually praised as a paradigmatic example of 'commons-based peer production'. Recent studies and surveys in different countries show that it has also become the most important platform for the public communication of science, that is, the main source of scientific information for the general public - a fact that is not so well known, particularly among scientists and research institutions, and that has not deserved much attention from the STS community until now.

Though Wikipedia is not often considered an instance of open science, it can be argued that (1) peer production initiatives have been an explicit source of inspiration for many trends in the present realm of open science and (2) that Wikipedia is a sui generis and successful example of citizen and non-expert involvement in making scientific knowledge freely and openly available.

Our study explores the way science issues are depicted in the Spanish version of Wikipedia (the 10th largest in the 291 language editions of Wikipedia). Our basic research question is whether the non-expert or lay character of the average Wikipedia editor and the open and collaborative model of this free encyclopaedia are actually shaping the way controversial scientific issues are presented. We have conducted and online survey to the most active editors of scientific articles in Wikipedia.es and an analysis of the most controversial scientific articles, paying specific attention to discussions in their talk pages.

Panel T061
Open science in practice