Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 346. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2019-01-15 20:42:34+00:00 From: Ken Friedman
Subject: My Thoughts on Wikipedia, part 3/3 [continued from part 2/3] -- Citations and Sources Several people have pointed to a seeming paradox. The question was nicely put by Andre Pacheco on the Humanist List: "Wikipedia entries often have a variety of paper citations. Is quoting an idea from Wikipedia invalid, but citing the original paper where that idea originates from valid enough?' Anyone who works as an editor knows the answer to this question. The problem is often not the validity and reliability of the cited sources. The most common problem is care and responsibility of the way that the citing author refers to and uses the sources. At my journal, we send authors a guidance document on citations. Relatively few Wikipedia articles follow current best practice on these issues. An article should '4. Use precise fine-grained references. These permit the reader to locate citedmaterials at their exact place in the source document. Fine-grained references allow the reader to examine, question, challenge and learn directly from cited sources. 5. Treat direct quotations, indirect quotations, and paraphrases the same way. Give explicit references to the exact page or section in the cited sources for all quotations and paraphrases. This serves readers while building and supporting the knowledge of the field. 6. Review cited passages in the original sources to ensure exact quotes and accurate paraphrasing. Reviewing sources helps authors to use source text well. It allows the author to reflect on the quoted material for added depth and development.' In the guidelines, I explain that 'major disciplines such as psychology have now changed the common referencing style to require fine-grained references on direct and indirect quotes alike as well as other forms of evidence. This is also the case for disciplines that use version of author-year citations colloquially known as APA Style. In APA authors must show exact page numbers allowing readers to find the material providing the warrant for the author's claim. (See, for example, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 2010:170-171). '...Many of the classical humanities have long held to this standard.' Reference: American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Sixth Edition. Washington DC: American Psychological Association. If you want to read the guidance document with my full argument, you'll find it here: https://www.academia.edu/37956764/Principles_of_Reference_and_Citation The loose and often vague references that support many Wikipedia articles demonstrate several common problems. First, the author may not have read the cited document properly. Second, he may not have understood the cited author's point. Third, the cited document may not, in fact, support the issue for which it is offered in evidence. Even when a cited document is serious and valid, there is no way for most readers to work their way through a 300-page book to find the supposed documentation that a Wikipedia editor cites in a loosely structured paraphrase. As an editor, I find many cases in which authors offer careless citations to excellent books and articles that I know well -- and I am aware that the cited document does not support the author's claim. The value of a cited source does not lie simply in the fact that the cited source is recognised as reliable. The cited source must by used by the citing writing in a. Valid way: it must be properly understood, carefully applied, relevant, and it must support the citing author's assertions. If it does not, the cited source may be reliable and valid -- but it will not permit citing a Wikipedia article that makes inappropriate use of the cited source. There is a second problem, as well -- volatile content. One reason that citations to Wikipedia articles are more problematic than most Internet citations is the rapid and frequent change to Wikipedia articles. In the citation, guidelines we also warn authors not to trust second-hand citations. If an author claims that a document states something, the author should read that document directly, providing a direct citation. Given the problems of many Wikipedia citations, one can neither rely on the Wikipedia article nor on the cited source until one has read and evaluated the original source at first hand. -- Comparing Wikipedia to other Encyclopedias Most of the work done in this area seems to suffer from one or more flaws. If articles are compared carefully and directly, this can only be a tiny number of articles from the whole. Wikipedia has millions more pages and articles. By 2012, English Wikipedia had more than 30 times as many articles as Britannica. This means that any comparison must be flawed. Wikipedia has many more articles, but many of them cannot be compared at all. Selected high quality Wikipedia articles seem to be roughly comparable to Britannica or to other encyclopaedias, but these are always a chosen group. To genuinely compare Wikipedia with other encyclopaedias requires addressing challenging methodological problems. These involve more than any simple head-to-head comparison of selected articles. This requires methodologically appropriate sampling, content analysis, and the use of multiple methods to answer what would probably be around a dozen or so questions. On some questions, Wikipedia is unquestionably different. If the sheer number of articles makes an encyclopaedia better, Wikipedia is hands-down the best in the world. But that is not a valid question with respect to a reference work. Reliability and validity come into play. In philosophy, for example, the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is far better than either Wikipedia or Britannica. Its method and the massive support provided makes this possible for the 1,600 articles in the SEP: https://plato.stanford.edu/about.html To do better, one must look to outstanding paper reference works such as the massive, 8-volume The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy from Macmillan. My 1967 edition is still useful, though rendered out of date by the 10-volume 2006 edition from Thomson Gale. If I want to read about Martha Nussbaum, I need to use a library and read the 2006. In contrast, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy lacks an article on Nussbaum. While Wikipedia has an article, it suffers from minor gaps and flaws. Who knows whether any among the 500 or so archived versions is better? Are any more useful than others? This is more than an interesting place to start, but Nussbaum is one of the most distinguished philosophers writing today. In a well edited reference book, I'd expect a better article. It's not a bad article but it is not as solid and well developed as I'd expect. You can vote either way. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Nussbaum -- Active Wikipedia Users? One of the most interesting comments on the Humanist list came from Bob Kosovsky of the New York Public Library. Aside from the encouraging idea that librarians have become engaged in Wikipedia, Bob writes: 'the majority of people who 'use' Wikipedia use it solely to look up information. I expect more than passive interaction from academics. 'Wikipedia is so much more, particularly for scholarly communities. A larger portion of the attendees at New York City's Wikipedia Day program were librarians; another larger portion of attendees were academics who either use Wikipedia as part of their teaching or are interested in incorporating it in future classes. 'There's no question in my mind that writing for Wikipedia is growing as an academic phenomenon. The Wiki Education is helping to guide teachers in integrating Wikipedia into a variety of curriculums. ( https://wikiedu.org/). From talks with students and teachers, I believe many academics find writing for Wikipedia is very different from writing for academia. In an academic environment one is constantly being encouraged to assimilate and synthesize information and come up with novel ideas. Wikipedia is exactly the opposite: synthesis of information is discouraged in favor of unbiased reportage. Even more so, the citation of sources for information is a priority. Being able to be fluent in these styles I believe to be a valuable asset to anyone (not just academics). Sometimes I think if the typical news reporter was studious in requesting sources for information from politicians, we'd have a much better citizenry.' I am quite sympathetic to these issues, and to the issue of good writing. At my journal, we work on the quality of writing as well as on content, and we work with a copy editor to produce the final version of most articles. Concluding Thoughts Wikipedia is an enormous social success. It has massive size and broad scope, together with massive data preserved in comprehensive archives. This makes Wikipedia a unique resource for research on many issues of the current era. It is also a valuable teaching tool. Nevertheless, the value of Wikipedia as a research object and a teaching tool is distinct from the question of reliability as a reference source. So far, no responsible study shows that Wikipedia equals the quality of any normal reference tool except across small, selected groups of the best Wikipedia articles. To do this, Wikipedia requires more active participants, and it requires a culture that will welcome them and welcome their contributions. At the size and scope of Wikipedia, this means recruiting and retaining a large number of expert newcomers, bringing them into the Wikipedia community in a reasonable and effective way. The current behaviour of Wikipedia editors and administrators toward newcomers suggests that Wikipedia would not welcome or accommodate this many new contributors. Current patterns suggest that most people who become active editors don't last long in the Wikipedia environment. This leaves Wikipedia with a problem that is difficult to solve. If anyone can solve it, Wikipedia could become the major contribution to human knowledge that many hope it will eventually be. But this involves more important issues than becoming the most used reference web site through size and first-mover advantage. This requires a kind of conversation that doesn't seem to interest the vast majority of Wikipedia editors and administrators who exercise authority over Wikipedia as it exists today. These questions have been puzzling me. I have no answers, but I'd be curious to know if anyone does. Best regards, Ken Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | è®¾è®¡ She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the- journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/ Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| Email: email@example.com | Academia http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn -- _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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