Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-01-17/WikiProject report

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WikiProject Report: WikiProject Pharmacology

By Cryptic C62, January 17, 2009

In this edition of the WikiProject Report, we focus on WikiProject Pharmacology. This project has been around for just over two years, and in that time it has expanded from 195 articles to nearly 5000! Here to tell us more about the project is Fvasconcellos.

  1. First things first, tell us a little about yourself and your history as an editor.
    I am a translator (currently based in Brazil) specializing in medical/scientific literature, and particularly in scholarly work such as journal articles, theses, etc. I joined Wikipedia in March 2006 after months of lurking around and making minor edits as an unregistered user, though I've used it as a reference for years. I actually only registered so I could upload an image (an album cover) and, well, here I am now :) Most of my early edits were WikiGnome stuff such as fixing typos and piping links. I started editing medicine-related articles a couple of months after registering (this was my very first such edit) and joined WikiProject Drugs (the predecessor to WikiProject Pharmacology) a month later. I started editing more and more frequently, becoming more involved in discussions and whatnot, as well as doing quite a bit of work on creating and uploading images—especially structural formulas for chemical compounds, which was quite an underserved area of Wikipedia. I was (successfully) nominated for adminship in late May 2007 and, accordingly, shifted my focus a bit to "back-office" areas such as page protection and deletion. The tools also came in very handy for my work in the project, which had become part of WP:PHARM in February 2007.
  2. Do you ever use your skills as a translator here on Wikipedia?
    Not directly, but I constantly use several skills I learned through the practice of translation and daily exposure to scientific literature: critical reading of sources, a basic understanding of statistics and research methodology, and (perhaps most importantly) the ability to reword and condense content without changing its meaning, as well as minor things such as careful attention to referencing. All are very helpful in editing medical topics, and an excellent introduction to developing some of these skills (and how to apply them to WP editing) is available in Wikipedia:Reliable sources (medicine-related articles).
  3. You've written several pharmacology-related articles, and you've helped bring various articles to GA status. However, true to your self-applied title of WikiGnome, it seems you haven't brought an article through the FAC process. Why is that?
    The FAC process can be very taxing on the nominator, and rightly so (we're talking about recognizing Wikipedia's finest content here). Honestly, I've never been able to dedicate the time and resources required in taking an article to the FA level, although I would like to eventually. Some editors make it seem so easy!
  4. According to the WikiProject Pharmacology project page, the four most popular pages related to the project are all illicit drugs, yet none of the project's featured articles are illicit drugs. Is this something you'd like to see changed, or does it seem that the project's members just aren't interested in those articles?
    I would like to see that changed, not least because of the popularity of these articles, but also because their topics are surrounded by so much misinformation. Unfortunately, much of this misinformation makes its way to Wikipedia. These articles are subject to vandalism, POV-motivated edits, addition of trivia and unsourced content, etc. on an almost daily basis, which makes systematic, directed improvement quite difficult. (I would like to note that Anabolic steroid is currently an FA, although it was developed with little input from project members and has several issues which will probably lead to a Featured article review in the near future.)
    Gauging the interest of project members is not an easy task. WP:PHARM is not one of Wikipedia's most active projects; only a handful of our members are active on a regular basis, and our Collaboration (first weekly, then monthly) has actually seen little activity. It's a shame, but many of our members have other interests and priorities around Wikipedia. We have nearly 5,000 articles under our scope, roughly 70% of which are stubs—we certainly need to renew our outreach efforts and engage in more wide-ranging, coordinated activity.
  5. Do you attribute the abundance of stubs to the disinterest of the project members or to some inherent difficulty in expanding upon somewhat limited subject matter? Or perhaps WikiProject Pharmacology has simply been experiencing a period of rapid growth rather than improvement and refinement? After all, nearly 100 new pharmacology articles have been created or tagged since November 2008.
    Again, our members have many interests and priorities (many are admins, for instance), so it's very difficult to attribute anything to disinterest. Limited subject matter is certainly an issue for many of our stubs—sometimes there simply isn't enough information available on, say, an investigational drug that nevertheless already merits an article. Current growth is actually a bit of a lull; compare our November statistics with those for August. We are already at a stage of maturity where we could, and should, be focusing on article improvement as well as expansion of our coverage; both do not have to be mutually exclusive.
  6. As for outreach efforts, how can editors who are interested in pharmacology articles, but have little experience with medical journals, help out?
    Start editing! Just remember to cite your sources, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Becoming acquainted with the Manual of Style is a big plus; it's not fair to ask this of every user who simply wants to start contributing, but it does make the learning curve considerably less steep.



Also this week:

News and notes — In the news — Dispatches — WikiProject report — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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