Wikipedia:Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia

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"Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia"

"Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia" is a September 2016 article in Academic Medicine. The article describes the process and outcomes for an instructor who encouraged several classes of medical students at University of California, San Francisco to participate in the Wikipedia Education Program by contributing health information to Wikipedia articles as part of the classroom learning experience. In the paper, the authors reported that the project advanced classroom learning goals, students enjoyed the practical publishing experience, Wikipedia reviewers appreciated the content donation, independent health experts found the information quality to be good, and a large audience of readers accessed the Wikipedia articles containing the content.

Abstract[edit]

Problem: Most medical students use Wikipedia as an information source, yet medical schools do not train students to improve Wikipedia or use it critically.

Approach: Between November 2013 and November 2015, the authors offered fourth-year medical students a credit-bearing course to edit Wikipedia. The course was designed, delivered, and evaluated by faculty, medical librarians, and personnel from WikiProject Medicine, Wikipedia Education Foundation, and Translators Without Borders. The authors assessed the effect of the students' edits on Wikipedia's content, the effect of the course on student participants, and readership of students' chosen articles.

Outcomes: Forty-three enrolled students made 1,528 edits (average 36/student), contributing 493,994 content bytes (average 11,488/student). They added higher-quality and removed lower-quality sources for a net addition of 274 references (average 6/student). As of July 2016, none of the contributions of the first 28 students (2013, 2014) have been reversed or vandalized. Students discovered a tension between comprehensiveness and readability/translatability, yet readability of most articles increased. Students felt they improved their articles, enjoyed giving back "specifically to Wikipedia," and broadened their sense of physician responsibilities in the socially networked information era. During only the "active editing months," Wikipedia traffic statistics indicate that the 43 articles were collectively viewed 1,116,065 times. Subsequent to students' efforts, these articles have been viewed nearly 22 million times.

Next Steps: If other schools replicate and improve on this initiative, future multi-institution studies could more accurately measure the effect of medical students on Wikipedia, and vice versa.

— Azzam, Amin; Bresler, David; Leon, Armando; Maggio, Lauren; Whitaker, Evans; Heilman, James; Orlowitz, Jake; Swisher, Valerie; Rasberry, Lane; Otoide, Kingsley; Trotter, Fred; Ross, Will; McCue, Jack D. (2016). "Why Medical Schools Should Embrace Wikipedia". Academic Medicine: 1. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000001381. ISSN 1040-2446.

About the paper[edit]

See on-wiki documentation of this project at Wikipedia:UCSF School of Medicine. While many people contributed, special thanks should go to Amin Azzam (user:AminMDMA) as the instructor who hosted the class and chief organizer of the project. Further context can be found in the Wikipedia article titled, "Health information on Wikipedia" and at WikiProject Medicine, which is the community forum for discussing health information on Wikipedia.

Here are the project coordinators, their wiki-names if applicable, and their affiliations.

Wikipedia projects which seem simple can attract significant contributors from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations. It can reasonably be said that several hundred people participated in this project directly and that hundreds of thousands of readers have accessed the Wikipedia articles containing the student contributions.

Open access publishing[edit]

The paper is published with a CC-By 4.0 license, which is an open access license. The publishing fee was $3900. Lane Rasberry requested $3000 through the Wikimedia Foundation's grant program to cover part of the fee. The University of California San Francisco paid the remaining $900. For more information see

Presentations at conferences[edit]

in some places this poster was presented with the paper

The team began to present drafts of the research beginning in 2014 in anticipation of the publishing which happened in October 2016.

  1. Maggio, Lauren; Whitaker, Evans; Azzam, Amin (23 March 2014), "The results of a fourth-year elective to train students to edit Wikipedia", Western Group on Educational Affairs Meeting 2014, Honolulu: Western Group on Educational Affairs
  2. Azzam, Amin; Whitaker, Evans; Orlowitz, Jake; Heilman, James; Maggio, Lauren (23 March 2014), "Editing Wikipedia for medical school credit", Western Group on Educational Affairs Meeting 2014, Honolulu: Western Group on Educational Affairs
  3. Azzam, Amin; Whitaker, Evans; McCue, Jack D.; Maggio, Lauren; Trotter, Fred; Ross, Will; Joshi, Mihir; Heilman, James; Swisher, Valerie (23 April 2015), "Editing Wikipedia for medical school credit: Analysis of data from three cycles of a fourth-year elective", Western Group on Educational Affairs Meeting 2015, San Diego: Western Group on Educational Affairs
  4. Azzam, Amin; Otoide, Kingsley; Trotter, Fred; Rasberry, Lane; Heilman, James; Swisher, Val; Maggio, Lauren (21 September 2016), "Editing Wikipedia for medical school credit – results from four cycles of an elective for fourth-year students", Association for Academic Psychiatry annual conference 2016, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Association for Academic Psychiatry |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. Rasberry, Lane; Orlowitz, Jake; Swisher, Val; Maggio, Lauren; Whitaker, Evans; Heilman, James; Azzam, Amin; Bresler, David; Leon, Armando; Otoide, Kingsley; Trotter, Fred; Ross, Will; McCue, Jack D. (8 October 2016), "Why medical schools should embrace Wikipedia", WikiConference North America 2016, San Diego: United States Wikimedians, retrieved 19 January 2017
  6. Rasberry, Lane; Bresler, David; Leon, Armando; Maggio, Lauren; Whitaker, Evans; Heilman, James; Orlowitz, Jake; Swisher, Valerie; Azzam, Amin; Otoide, Kingsley; Trotter, Fred; Ross, Will; McCue, Jack D. (28 October 2016), "The Inside Track on Wikipedia for Medical Librarians", Upstate New York and Ontario Chapter of the Medical Library Association annual conference 2016, Watkins Glen, New York: Medical Library Association, retrieved 19 January 2017
  7. Azzam, Amin; Otoide, Kingsley; Rasberry, Lane (14 November 2016), "Editing Wikipedia for medical school credit" (PDF), Association of American Medical Colleges Annual conference 2016, Seattle: Association of American Medical Colleges, retrieved 19 January 2017
  8. Rasberry, Lane; Bresler, David; Leon, Armando; Maggio, Lauren; Whitaker, Evans; Heilman, James; Orlowitz, Jake; Swisher, Valerie; Azzam, Amin; Otoide, Kingsley; Trotter, Fred; Ross, Will; McCue, Jack D. (19 November 2016), "To Trust or Not? Wikipedia as a Health Resource" (PDF), American Medical Student Association 2016 annual conference, New York City: American Medical Student Association, retrieved 19 January 2017
Upcoming
  1. Association of American Medical Colleges Annual conference 2017 in Boston
  2. Azzam, Amin; Swisher, Val; Whitaker, Evans; Heilman, James; Rasberry, Lane; Maggio, Lauren (25 August 2017), "Medical students editing Wikipedia: four years of impact at one medical school", Association of Medical Educators in Europe annual conference 2017, Helsinki: Association of Medical Educators in Europe |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. Azzam, Amin; Swisher, Val; Whitaker, Evans; Heilman, James; Rasberry, Lane; Maggio, Lauren (25 August 2017), "Health professional schools can easily embrace Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool", Association of Medical Educators in Europe annual conference 2017, Helsinki: Association of Medical Educators in Europe |access-date= requires |url= (help)

Links[edit]