Wikipedia:How to apply WP:NOR's "Directly related" principle

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Editors should build an article by summarizing the sources available on the topic of the article. Any information added should therefore be based on reliable sources that present this information in direct connection with the article subject. In some cases, supplementary information from generic sources that cover a broader subject area than the specific article topic may be deemed to add value to an article, in order to clarify places, people or things mentioned in the article (WP:PCR). For example, an editor might want to add a detail from a reliable source that describes the historical context in which the subject of an article lived, even though the cited source does not mention the article subject. This is fine as long as it is consistent with WP:SYN and it does not imply a substantial new conclusion that is not present in any of the sources.

Provide context for the reader[edit]

The goal of the original research policy is to ensure that sources are used properly within articles, and to that end, the policy has established a set of guiding principles. In applying the "directly related" principle, editors should rely on the guidelines "Provide context for the reader" and "Stay on topic". On-topic information must necessarily be based on sources which refer directly to the article topic, because the sources must support the information as it is presented, in accordance with the original research policy. According to WP:PCR, contextual information may be useful for the reader; and this information may cover a broader subject area than the specific article topic (for example, an article about a historic event or scientific discovery may need to provide a brief historical background). To demonstrate that reliable sources consider this information to be relevant to the subject of the article, the editor should ideally cite reliable sources that refer directly to the article subject. But even if no such sources are available, the information may still be provided for the benefit of the reader as long as it is verifiable.

Do not combine published material to advance a novel conclusion[edit]

"Editors should not make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together to reach conclusion C. This would be a synthesis of published material that advances a new position, which constitutes original research. "A and B, therefore C" is acceptable only if a reliable source has published this same argument in relation to the topic of the article." (WP:SYN)

Even an implicit novel conclusion is a novel conclusion, and synthesizing published material to advance novel conclusions is not permitted.

Therefore, if a statement, as it is presented within an article, clearly implies a reasonable and significant conclusion related to the article topic that is not stated nor deliberately implied[1] in the sources cited, it constitutes original research.

A reasonable conclusion is one that is logically valid, or that can be reasonably inferred based on what is known about the situation at hand. A conclusion can be considered significant if, for example, it pertains to the outcome or success of an action, or if it logically extends the scope of a contrasting point of view.

Information presented in a Wikipedia article in a way that clearly suggests an unreasonable conclusion (for example, a false implication) is forbidden by WP:NPOV, and does not concern WP:NOR; neither do trivial or unclear implications.[2]

Combining related facts and information[edit]

Here is a fictional example of an implicit conclusion from the biography of A. N. Other, a journalist and campaigner:

  1. Organisation X, with which A. N. Other was associated, called for a pre-Christmas product boycott. They subsequently claimed on their website that it had a dramatic effect. [properly sourced]
  2. In the run-up to Christmas that year, Retailer Z suffered disappointing sales, and its share price dropped. [source mentions sales drop for retailer Z, but does not mention Organisation X, nor the boycott; share price source for Retailer Z does not mention Organisation X or the boycott either]

The second statement, as it is used within the article, is original research because it implies a reasonable and significant conclusion that is not in any of the sources, i.e. that Organisation X's boycott may have had something to do with the drop in sales and subsequent drop in share price of retailer Z. We need a source linking the retailer's disappointing sales and share price drop to Organisation X's boycott. If none can be found, the second statement should be removed from the article.

Point of view contrasted with another viewpoint[edit]

To determine whether a contrastive point of view is original research, we have to know whether the source cited presents that viewpoint in connection with the topic of the article, the topic of a section (sub-topic) within the article, or even the topic of a potential section for the article. If it does not, we are engaging in original research. If the source does connect that point of view to the article topic or to a subtopic within the article, then within that context, are we simply contrasting two opposing points of view about the subject,[3] or are we advancing a novel conclusion? If a novel conclusion is implied, the contrastive point of view is original research.

Example 1[edit]

New conclusion is implied

Underlying point of view contrasted with another viewpoint:

  1. "A" states that "X is true because Y is true".
  2. "B" states that "Z is true".
(If "Z is true", "X is true because Y is true" is false.)

Implied conclusion:

"B" would not agree with the statement that "X is true because Y is true".

Note: "A" and "B" may refer to people, as well as documents, e.g. a dictionary, a guide, an article, etc.

The article is about "Jones" (based on the Smith & Jones example presented at WP:SYN)

  1. Smith says that Jones committed plagiarism by copying references from another book. [properly referenced]
  2. According to the Academic Citation Manual XYZ, copying references from another book is not plagiarism. [source does not comment on dispute]

Statement 2 is original research, because it implies the conclusion that, "if Jones copied references from another book, this would not be plagiarism according to the Academic Citation Manual XYZ," which is not in any of the sources. We need a source mentioning the Academic Citation Manual XYZ's view on plagiarism in connection with the Smith & Jones controversy. If none can be found, statement 2 should be removed.

Example 2[edit]

Ancillary article related to the LHC, for example Safety of the LHC (Contrasting a mainstream theory with a fringe theory)

  1. The majority of scientists do not believe that the LHC will create black holes that are dangerous, primarily because of Hawking radiation. properly sourced
  2. Theorist A states that Hawking radiation rests on dubious assumptions. source does not comment on the LHC

Statement 2 is original research, because it implies the conclusion that, "if theorist A is correct, the primary safety justification is resting on dubious assumptions," which is not in any of the sources. We need a source mentioning theorist A's point of view in connection with the safety of the LHC. If none can be found, the second statement should be removed. Note that this would also be original research in an article about black holes or Hawking radiation, not just in the LHC safety article.

Example 3[edit]

  1. Stephen Hawking wrote of black holes evaporating, and used math that assumed that space-time was continuous. [properly sourced]
  2. Others, however, say space-time is not continuous. [source does not comment on Hawking or black hole evaporation]

To know if this is original research, we first need to ask, what is the topic of the article or section where we want to add this statement?

If the topic is space-time, then we are simply contrasting two opposing opinions on space-time: Hawking believes that space-time is continuous, others believe it is not continuous. The mention of black holes is essentially irrelevant, it is merely the context in which Hawking assumed continuousness and has no impact on his opinion that space-time is continuous. It is not original research, within the context of the space-time article, to contrast these two statements.

If the topic is black holes, then we have a different situation. Since the other scientists do not mention black holes, we are implying a conclusion, i.e. that the other scientists would disagree that black hole evaporation is validated by math which assumes space-time continuity. In this context we do have a synthesis. We would need a reliable source that discusses Hawking's views on black holes evaporating and the other scientists' views on black holes evaporating, and ties both to their views on space-time continuity. To do so without such a reliable source is original research within the context of the black hole article.[4]

Point of view supported by another viewpoint[edit]

New conclusion is implied

Underlying point of view supported by another viewpoint:

  1. "A" states that "X is true because Y is true".
  2. "B" states that "Y is true".
("X is true because Y is true" is a valid deduction; it is not necessary that "X" or "Y" be true.)

Implied conclusion:

"B" would reasonably support the statement that "X is true because Y is true".

Note: "A" and "B" may refer to people, as well as documents, e.g. a dictionary, a guide, an article, etc.

To determine whether a supportive point of view presented in an article is original research, we have to consider whether the source cited presents that viewpoint in direct connection with the point of view that is supported. If it does, we are not engaging in original research. If it does not, the supportive point of view is original research (or is not neutral, see false implication).

Example[edit]

The article is about "Jones"

  1. Smith says that Jones committed plagiarism by doing ABC. [properly referenced]
  2. The Academic Citation Manual XYZ says that ABC is plagiarism. [source does not comment on dispute]

Statement 2 is original research, because it implies the conclusion that, "if Jones did ABC, this would be plagiarism according to the Academic Citation Manual XYZ," which is not in any of the sources. We need a source mentioning the Academic Citation Manual XYZ's view on plagiarism in connection with the Smith & Jones controversy. If none can be found, statement 2 should be removed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Information that is intended to suggest a conclusion in the literature on a topic may be presented as suggesting a conclusion within a Wikipedia article. In practice, this means that the information must be provided in the same source, and must be presented by the source author(s) in a way that clearly indicates a deliberate conclusion. Otherwise, an editor is engaging in original research by attempting to present information in an article in a way that serves to suggest a conclusion that was not deliberately suggested within the literature on the topic.
  2. ^ For example:
    1. "A" says that "X" is true because "Y" is true.
    2. "B" states that "Z" (implies non-"Y") is true.
    The second statement implies that conclusion "X is true" may not be sound. However, unless we are referring to plain facts, any theory may turn out to be wrong, so that is a trivial conclusion. If "Z" is a mainstream view and "Y" is a minority view, one might conclude that "Y" is more likely to be false than "Z", but whether this is clearly and reasonably implied is debatable.
  3. ^ No new conclusion is implied (Primary viewpoint contrasted with another point of view):
    1. "A" believes that "X is true". (All As are Cs)
    2. "B" believes that "X is false". (No Bs are Cs)
    —No conclusion; or:
    1. "A" believes that "X is true". (All As are Cs)
    2. "B" believes that "Z is true". (All Bs are Ds)
    ("Z is true" and "X is true" is an obvious contradiction; No Cs are Ds; No Ds are Cs)
    — Implied conclusion:
    B believes that X is false. (No As are Ds; No Bs are Cs)
    "B believes that Z is true", as stated in the source, can be rewritten "B believes that X is false" in compliance with WP:NOR's requirement to "stick to the sources". Consequently, the conclusion "B believes that X is false" is not "new" because it can already be interpreted based solely on statement 2, in accordance with WP:NOR.
  4. ^ Based on example and analysis presented by User:Blueboar at Wikipedia talk:NOR [1]