I am a former research faculty member from a major university, and a mid-career scientist with broad experience. My work emphasis is on small molecule therapeutics, natural products chemistry, and aspects of medicinal and organic chemistry, structural biology, and cheminformatics. I write and correct primarily in these areas, and most often in areas related to my degree or ongoing scholarly research work. Because drug discovery involves the life sciences and team approaches to problems, and because it is a business, I have some associated interests in proximate areas of the life sciences and in areas related to business and organizations/processes.
I have doctoral, masters, and undergraduate degrees in my area of specialty, the graduate degrees from a global top-10 university, the undergraduate from a top 25 (Times Higher Education/Thomson Reuters world university rankings, Nov 2011, both rankings vis-a-vis the overall universities and their physical sciences). Research training experiences at both venues were with recognized leaders in their fields. I have always been fully employed in my field of training, doing teaching and discovery-oriented research (and its associated writing tasks). As well, I am married to and collaborate with a partner who is a Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS)-certified editor (one of about 1000 or so globally), and so one that I periodically consult on matters of grammar, etc.
My undergraduate was a strong liberal arts education, with a "great books" type of approach to areas of the humanities and social sciences (including the philosophy of science, ethics, sociologies of science and medicine, and history, broadly speaking). I therefore also read and raise questions, and sometimes correct clear errors, in these areas, generally in consultation with parties more knowledgable. Finally, I grew up in the home of a jurist and legal scholar and so have some fundamental interests in the fairness of procedures within organizations; I will occasionally raise questions on Wikipedia procedures and process, based on my education and these early-derived and long-honed instincts. None of the preceding experiences guarantee correctness of my content or writings (and so challenge is invited). The training and related experiences are stated, simply, so that those who wish to challenge what I offer also understand what has informed the scope, content, and process of my writing.
As will become clear, because of the confidence that comes from these professional and other experiences, I am not averse to defending my positions regarding content or procedures, nor to challenging other content in need of correction even if errors are of emphasis or nuance.
My strong interest is in editing-as-content-creation-and-correction, and much less in formatting or other stylistic aspects. While I am competent in creating high quality and scientifically accurate scientific images related to chemistry, I have very limited time to do so, and remain somewhat limited in my interest and knowledge about bringing them into wikipedia. I therefore work very well with wikipedians that understand the technical aspects of online encyclopedic styles and formatting, and the same aspects relating to image use.
Two significant scholarly concerns in my science and other writing are:
- (i) the lack of referencing in many articles, particularly when the lack extends past 6 months of its being flagged; and
- (ii) referencing that is done via a "citation-mining" process (connecting article content to citation by shared title or abstract keywords), rather than the reading and nuanced understanding of the article and its field of context.
A related concern is the failure while writing and referencing to differentiate professional organization-approved or otherwise justifiable scientific nomenclature from definitions and understandings of science as they appear in rapidly evolving online and/or other non-reviewed sources.
Wikipedia, in its policies (WP:This and WP:That), makes clear that scientific information that is not known to the layman (i.e., essentially all of it) should be accompanied by citation, that plagiarism includes unacknowledged ideas, not just quote, and that unreferenced material may be removed; hence, my unpopular opinion is to hold us to that, and to move such plagiarized text to Talk, so that the article is returned to a more honest intellectual presentation until the work of providing properly sourced writing can occur. In responding to such unreferenced material, I utterly reject calls to perform forensic referencing—to add references to scientific content of another editor after the fact—because it is fraught with issues of misinterpretation, inaccuracy of sourcing, etc., and because, frankly, it only serves to encourage initial sloppiness. In the case of an excellently presented and argued scientific text I may be tempted otherwise, but I have never found such an article here that is not already decently referenced. (The correlation, there, is suggestive.)
Five further significant and more general Wikipedia policy concerns are:
- (i) the ways in which content and policy conflicts are negotiated and, when consensus is unachievable, are thereafter adjudicated, with special reference to whether the outcomes are actually just by any real-work standard;
- (ii) the ways in which wikipedia policies are applied or ignored, in part or in whole, during particular Wikipedia disagreements, and the extent to which practical hierarchies of policy exist in deciding these disagreements, and in any adjudications that follow;
- (iii) relatedly, the ways in which longstanding editors and administrators make use of social networks at Wikipedia, overtly, tacitly, or covertly, to accomplish their editorial or social ends;
- (iv) the interaction of all of these in wikipedia conflict, and the question of whether these in total are sufficient to explain the outcome of Wikipedia conflicts (e.g., versus the existence of something approaching the legal concept of indeterminacy, Lawrence B. Solum, "On the Indeterminacy Crisis: Critiquing Critical Dogma," Univ. Chicago Law Rev., 54(462), 1987; Ill. Publ. Law Res. Paper 09-10, see , accessed 8 March 2015); and
- (v) the ways in which technological tools aid or hinder by impacting the foregoing, and thus impact the achievement of just outcomes of conflict at Wikipedia.
As a result of these interests, I should note that I will protest outcomes of conflict resolutions regardless of adherence to Wikipedia principles if a "bottom line" of the resolution is not rigourously accurate content (regardless of consensus, or other positive wikipedia considerations), and whether the outcomes of conflict are arguably just and reasonable on the basis of general standards (i.e., would be found so by an informed jury of laypersons unsteeped in Wikipedia practice). Hence, I am apparently not as deeply committed to Wikipedia basic principles as many.
Finally, because life is short and the time that I can spend on this effort much, much shorter, I will press for timely acceptance of new articles I write, and for inclusion of changes that I know to be correct and accurate. If the opportunity cost of seeing accurate, well-referenced material make its way into the encyclopedia becomes too high—if contributions do not remain, if quick reversions and Wikipedia politics ensue, etc. I will generally wash hands of a matter after a cycle or two, having externally saved rejected drafts. (To warn, on a rare occasion, when the article is of seminal importance, I will stand and fight. Lor' he'p us all.)
If the editing situation at an article becomes hopeless, and I depart, I will annotate the article in Talk as to its not being reliable/verifiable from this contributor's perspective, thereafter checking on it from time to time to see if the situation has changed. Meanwhile, I will use the drafts, rather than Wikipedia, in my teaching and my communications to other academicians. In the preceding two regards, I am admittedly a "Wikipedian in Protest", believing that consensus and other wikipedia processes do not always arrive at accurate, scholarly content. When we so fail, I will seek other online venues for placing content before those who might need it.
My desire is to move this section to highlight exemplary behaviour by colleagues here at WP. THis must develop slowly; I will make the first addition after I have 3-5 entries created in sandbox.
|The Barnstar of Diligence|
|For your talk page comments and alerting on the talk page before doing anything. Though I encourage you to be bold, it's incredibly satisfying that you went to the talk, first. Tutelary (talk) 14:59, 15 May 2014 (UTC)|
|The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar|
|In recognition of your many years of quality Wikipedia contributions while assisting and building morale among other editors in both small and large ways. Market St.⧏ ⧐ Diamond Way 09:47, 13 June 2014 (UTC)|
|The Defender of the Wiki Barnstar|
|For your fortitude and faithful observance of NPOV and COI when all others capitulated! FeralOink (talk) 18:20, 4 March 2015 (UTC)|
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Reminder, Wikipedia policies/guidelines regarding source selection and web citations
Per the policy section, WP:SOURCE, we are to:
"Base articles on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Source material must have been published... Unpublished materials are not considered reliable. Use sources that directly support the material presented in an article and are appropriate to the claims made. The appropriateness of any source depends on the context. The best sources have a professional structure in place for checking or analyzing facts, legal issues, evidence, and arguments. The greater the degree of scrutiny given to these issues, the more reliable the source. Be especially careful when sourcing content related to living people or medicine... If available, academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources, such as in history, medicine, and science." [Italics added]
"Improv[e] existing citations by adding missing information, such as by replacing bare URLs with full bibliographic citations: an improvement because it aids verifiability, and fights linkrot.
"Most importantly, do not add bare URLs to articles—always create full citations with title, author, date, publisher, etc. [Italics added]
Thank you for your kind consideration, as you do these things, and tolerate me as I push to see them done consistently, here. [Le Prof]
Draft personal opinion essay regarding plagiarism and tagging
The following was adapted via minimal editing from a response given to a reasonable and thoughtful editor and colleague here, who called attention to the active concern others have expressed over my leaving articles tagged, even heavily, at the end of editing sessions. One principle tag in this case called attention to material cut-and-pasted from a source without attribution. Here, in largest part was my response to being challenged about my tagging behaviours.
I [can only] begin to address [in this challenge to my tagging] the generally prevalent academic concern [I and others share over the paired issues of, first, unsourced, and therefore unverifiable content, and second, the very significant degree of plagiarism that infests Wikipedia together, which are at the root of much that I tag]; these are subjects far too broad for brief attention.
Suffice it to say that WP has created a perfect intellectual conundrum and morass, having:
- (i) no easily used internal tools for plagiarism detection,
- (ii) low [overall community standards regarding the acceptability of including unsourced and therefore unverifiable material in initial edits (leaving sourcing to later, follow-on editors), and also regarding the more egregious] cribbing of material from sources, and
- (iii) perfect ease [established] for outsiders to replicate (mirror) its content, thus making external plagiarism checking a lifelong vocation should anyone be so foolish as to commit to it.
[The fact that Wikipedia has a policy prohibiting and responding to the use of unverifiable information (however weakly enforced), but only a guideline prohibiting and responding to plagiarism, is telling in my opinion. From the persective of one committed to "Doing..." (and teaching about doing) "Honest..." academic work, it's noteworthy that] even sources with Creative Commons status, and out of copyright status, available for free use, carry the implicit legal or ethical stipulations that the source be acknowledged where its information is re-used. One needn't look far here at Wikipedia to see these standard intellectual expectations being broadly, generally ignored.With regard to [my] use of tags here: Editors have differing philosophies regarding tagging. The preponderant philosophy appears to be,As an academic and a person devoted to openness in intellectual endeavours, and one committed to the survival of WP in its next stages of evolution, I oppose this preponderant view, and fight for articles appearing tagged, if there are clear, unequivocal reasons for tagging them. (An unsourced section is an unsourced section. A long section completely drawn from a single source is just that. URL-only citations are a clear problem. Etc., etc.)
"We need to hide article imperfections from general readers—making an article appear 'fine' is important, regardless of the issues associated with it, large or small."
[With regard to the overused "just fix it" mantra: In editing articles I come to, as a first interest, or those related articles to which the primary interest is linked,] I always do what I can, quickly, to fix what I see [as being problematic]. But I do not leave an article with issues that will take many tens of hours to address without tags, just because I cannot fix all myself, in one session or set of sessions. We are a community. If we are an honest one, we can endure tagged articles, for the very simple reason that they reflect the real status of the encyclopedia, rather than an impression we would wish to create in a reading, public group of WP users. (Benign and malignant growths that are present in a body need attention called to them, even if they cannot be seen by the casual, external observer—so that intervention takes place.)
Otherwise... I am always committed to seeing tags consolidated, their messages shortened, etc. The truth is, long messages in tags are sometimes the only way to quickly convey issues to a population of editors, first, [where] many are ready to revert at an impulse, and second, where even if more patient, many are fairly ready to act [editorially] without thoroughly reviewing relevant Talk sections.
The bottom line, from me: I will always take concerns of other editors seriously, and attempt to accommodate them, but I will not submit to the notion [that persistence of unverifiable material is acceptable], or that it is acceptable to overlook when information written by others is misappropriated; moreover, neither will I submit to a fundamental philosophy that says that appearance is more important than reality—that readers should be allowed to perceive an article as being without flaws, when in truth it is substantially out-of-compliance with Wikipedia's own limited standards for academic honesty and scholarly attribution, as appear in its policies and guidelines.
I will do further work on this, but it is adequate to refer to, so that I do not have to repeatedly explain and defend, as I involve myself with WP activities. Cheers. Le Prof.