Wikipedia:WikiProject Royal Society

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This could be you!

The WikiProject Royal Society is an ongoing collaboration and partnership between Wikimedia UK and the Royal Society to improve coverage of science, scientists and the Royal Society in Wikipedia, Wikidata[1] and Wikimedia Commons using the resources of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom's National Academy of the Sciences. Why? Because scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians can (and should) help shape wikipedia for the better.[2][3][4][5]

The project grew out of the appointment of John Byrne (normally User:Johnbod) as Wikipedian in residence at the Royal Society in London from January to June 2014 (part time, one day per week), as a pilot scheme. See User:Wiki at Royal Society John or this Wikimedia UK blogpost. From May 2014 he held a similar role at Cancer Research UK, using the alternate account User:Wiki CRUK John for edits made in this role.


The society has hosted a number of internal events as well as public events open to all.[6] The most common kind of public event is an Edit-a-thon, for example:

Neuroscience Edit-a-thon 2014[edit]

An edit-a-thon on Neuroscience took place on Saturday, 7 June 2014 from 10:30 to 13:30. The event page on Wikipedia is here, The form of the event will different from our previous events aimed at scientists, and those with an interest in science, who wanted to learn about editing Wikipedia. This time there will be smaller groups of scientists and experienced Wikipedians who will work together to improve articles. So there will not be the usual workshop-style training, though the scientists attending will certainly come to understand Wikipedia editing processes. Wikipedia event page coming very soon; online participants from both groups will be very welcome.

This will be the last public event held during John's period as Wikimedian-in-residence, but we hope to continue with other public events in the future.

March 4th, evening session

Women in Science Edit-a-thon 2014[edit]

The Royal Society held an edit-a-thon on Saturday March 4 2014 Promoting diversity in science and engineering to celebrate International Women’s Day

This was an afternoon and evening (evening places now fully booked) event for people who want to edit Wikipedia, in particular topics relating to women in science and engineering. New and experienced editors are welcome; there will be training sessions for those new to editing, and experienced helpers will be available. There will be a number of suggested topics for editing, but please bring your own thoughts on this.

Please bring a laptop if possible, though some will be available, as will wifi internet access. Also please bring any books you have to use as references, though the resources of the Royal Society library will be available until shortly before 5pm. We envisage that most people will come either for the afternoon or the evening, with the changeover around 5.30-6pm, but there is room for some to span both sessions; there will be light refreshments laid on. There will be presentations on editing for new editors at about 2.20 and 6.20, lasting about 40 minutes, and there will be experienced editors on hand throughout to give assistance. The event is slightly in advance of International Women's Day, on Saturday March 8th.

Diversity in Science Edit-a-thon 2014[edit]

March 25th, afternoon session
  • 25 March, Event page. An editathon themed around diversity in science, by gender, culture & geography. Similar timetable to March 4.

Events prior to 2014[edit]

Before John Byrne's term as wikipedian in residence, there were also other related events including:

Fellows of the Royal Society[edit]

The society elects new Fellows of the Royal Society in May each year after a process of peer review. Fellows elected since 2014, all have wikibiographies (at least a Wikipedia:Stub, sometimes more). Fellows elected before 2014 are less well covered by Wikipedia.[2][7]

With biographies[edit]

The following fellows listed below all have biographies on wikipedia:

Without biographies[edit]

Prior to 2014, coverage is less good. Red links indicate that no biography currently exists, around 30% of fellows are not mentioned[7]) see for example:

Photos on Wikimedia Commons[edit]

Every year the society releases portraits of its Fellows elected that year (with the subjects permission), see commons categories listed on the right. These supplement the photos the society has released using a permissive license for use in wikipedia and elsewhere.

Some of the treasures from the archive that were photographed
a page from one of Robert Boyle's notebooks

(June 2014) As part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Royal Society a special photo session in the Royal Society Library in London has resulted in Category:Books and manuscripts in the Library and Archives of The Royal Society, with over 50 photos of their treasures, mostly 17th century manuscripts, including several of Herschel's correspondence with Charles Babbage, Charles Blagden's diaries, the 1st edn of Sylva, by John Evelyn, one of the early minute books, Robert Boyle's notebooks etc, the manuscript fair copy of Newton's Principia etc. Please add these to articles as appropriate. Many thanks to User:Mike Peel for coming from Manchester to take the photos!

(May 2014) I'm delighted to be able to announce that the Royal Society has agreed that the official photo portraits of the new Fellows elected in 2014 will, as the default, be released on open licences and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. It is intended that this will continue in future years. The photos are taken at the Induction Day in July so will not be on Commons until after that. Please watch this space! There may be some exceptions, where Fellows prefer to use an existing photo which cannot be released on an open licence.


Dame Sally Davies FRS, elected in 2014, already with an article

The announcement of the 2014 elections of fellows took place on April 30, and 50 new Fellows, plus 10 foreign members, were elected. User:Duncan.Hull was as usual wonderfully quick in creating List of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 2014, which as usual showed that most did not have Wikipedia biographies! Currently only 15 of the 50 have articles on the English Wikipedia, with one (Professor Demetri Terzopoulos FRS) having one on the French WP. Of the Foreign Members, 9/10 have articles, with Professor Jean-Marie Tarascon (who doesn't even have one on French WP) the only exception. As far as gender goes, there are 7/50 and 1/10 women, who so far have 2/7 [now 4/7] and 1/10 articles. So with the overall % at 15/50= 30% and the women at 2/7= 28.5%, plus 90% and 100% for the foreign members, I see this as confirming my suspicion about the often-heard idea that Wikipedia coverage of women scientists is currently poor compared to the men. This is no coincidence, as there has been considerable effort over recent years put into improving coverage, with several events at the Royal Society and many more across the world, and it has paid off.

Until this new batch of Fellows, 100% of all the female FRSs (past and present) had articles, many very short of course, and I can forecast with some confidence that the 5 [now 3] there now are without articles will have them at the latest after the next Ada Lovelace Day in October or International Women's Day in March, as these dates see a particular concentration of Wikipedia events on Women in Science.

That won't be the case for the men - taking for example List of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 2012, there were 44 fellows elected, but only 17 have articles yet, including Julian Lewis (biologist) just created very recently after his early death.

Actually the first of the women to get a new article started (only one line so far) had already done so a few hours before I wrote on May 7th, at Dorothy Bishop (psychologist); it just hadn't been linked. And Karalyn Patterson went within two hours of me writing, as far as I know with no connection to me writing this. So then there were three ....

Dorothy Bishop is now a good deal longer, thanks to User:Gaia Octavia Agrippa. The remaining redlinks are (on 15 May): Amanda Fisher, Jenny Nelson, and Sheena Radford.

Wiki at Royal Society John (talk)

.... and then there were none! Wiki at Royal Society John (talk) 11:57, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

See also this study on how erratic Wikipedia's coverage of contemporary scientists is in general

Royal Society journals[edit]

Volume 1 title page for "Phil. Trans.", for 1665/66

See Wikipedia:Royal Society journals for details & sign-up. The Royal Society is offering 24 Wikipedians free access for one year to its prestigious range of scientific journals. Please note that much of the content of these journals is already freely available online, the details varying slightly between the journals – see the Royal Society Publishing webpages.

The Royal Society's journals are divided into 3 groups for the purposes of this offer:

  1. Biological sciences, access for 10 editors to 6 journals
  2. Physical Sciences, access for 10 editors to 5 journals
  3. History of Science, access to 4 editors to 2 journals

Initial applications closed on 25 May 2014, but later applications will go on the waiting list. Wiki at Royal Society John (talk) 15:45, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Media coverage[edit]

Media coverage of the events described above is summarised below:

On the day, there were interviews with: The Guardian, German Radio, and Motherboard, VICE's science and tech platform, resulting in:


Related Wikiprojects[edit]

There are several other WikiProjects which overlap with this one in terms of scope, some of the more active ones worth mentioning include:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but gives a flavour of related activities.

The last word: Freeman Dyson[edit]

Thought for the day: "Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it.... The information that it contains is totally unreliable and surprisingly accurate." Freeman Dyson FRS, New York Review of Books, March 2011


  1. ^ Vrandečić, Denny; Krötzsch, Markus (2014). "Wikidata: a free collaborative knowledgebase". Communications of the ACM. New York City: Association for Computing Machinery. 57 (10): 78–85. doi:10.1145/2629489. ISSN 0001-0782.
  2. ^ a b Hodson, Richard (2015). "Wikipedians reach out to academics". Nature. London: Springer Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18313.
  3. ^ Shafee, Thomas; Mietchen, Daniel; Su, Andrew I. (2017). "Academics can help shape Wikipedia". Science. 357 (6351): 557–558. doi:10.1126/science.aao0462. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 28798122.
  4. ^ Logan, Darren W.; Sandal, Massimo; Gardner, Paul P.; Manske, Magnus; Bateman, Alex (2010). "Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia". PLOS Computational Biology. San Francisco, California: Public Library of Science. 6 (9): e1000941. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000941. PMC 2947980. PMID 20941386. open access
  5. ^ Kilpatrick, Alastair M. (2016). "The 5th ISCB Wikipedia Competition: Coming to a Classroom Near You?". PLOS Computational Biology. 12 (12): e1005235. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005235. ISSN 1553-7358. PMC 5199069. PMID 28033360. open access
  6. ^ Yong, Ed (2012). "Edit-a-thon gets women scientists into Wikipedia". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11636. ISSN 1476-4687.
  7. ^ a b Hull, Duncan; Byrne, John (2015). "Improving the troubled relationship between Scientists and Wikipedia". Wikipedia Science Conference. London: FigShare. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.1535122.