What motivated you to join WikiProject Genetics? Do you have an academic or professional background in biology? Have you contributed to WikiProjects covering any other scientific disciplines?
Some of my very first edits on Wikipedia articles were on genetics topics. I happen to be a (layman) participant in a "journal club" on behavior genetics at my alma mater state university's department of psychology. From the professors there sharing papers among the department's graduate students and discussing them, I refresh my understanding of genetics. I have always been interested in genetics, especially human genetics. I lived overseas for two long spans in the early 1980s and again over the turn of the most recent century, and I have enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. On the one hand, there is an astounding variety of human patterns of physical appearance and many amazing variations in a great many human traits, but on the other hand there is core commonality in all individuals in all of humankind that is quite striking. To understand human nature better, I've been devoting decades of reading time to the extensive library collections in my metropolitan area on genetics research. I am also a participant in the WikiProject on psychology and edit quite a few articles related to that broad subject.
Have you contributed to any of the project's Featured or Good Articles? What challenges do project members face when improving genetics articles to FA or GA status?
I haven't yet brought a WikiProject Genetics article to GA or FA status, but I would enjoy doing so. Indeed, I have a couple of articles currently in mind for improvement in user sandboxes to bring in interesting DYK facts for those, and along the way to expand them first to GA and then to FA status.
How well are Wikipedia's genetics articles sourced? What useful resources are accessible to the average Wikipedian? How can Wikipedians with access to a university or medical library help the project?
Currently most of the articles are sourced in ways that don't respect Wikipedia reliable sources policy, particularly by using too much of a he-said, she-said style of citing preliminary primary research studies that haven't been replicated (and may never be) rather than reliable secondary sources. Blog entries have utterly no place as sources for these articles. I try to help the project by sharing source lists in user space with everyone involved in editing Wikipedia. One of my most extensive source lists is the source list on anthropology, human biology, and race citations. I update those source lists continually, and put the entries up in cite template form so that they are convenient to add to articles with COINS metadata to aid library research.
Do genetics articles tend to be written more for the layperson or for individuals familiar with the field? What can be done to make genetics more accessible to the average reader? Can non-experts contribute to genetics articles in any useful ways?
Nonexpert editors are crucial for articles on any highly technical subject to ensure readability. One of the best ways to help improve articles that necessarily need to use a lot of specialized vocabulary (as articles on genetics must) is to refer to undergraduate textbooks on the topic for how to write about genetics in a readable manner for people new to the subject.
What kinds of images and diagrams are used to illustrate articles about genetics? What aspects of the field could use a wider selection of images? How can Wikipedians studying genetics or working as geneticists contribute to Wikipedia's visual collection?
We need many more illustrative diagrams from the most recent textbooks and review articles, perhaps by experts who have access to graphic artists in their laboratories helping to draw them. I wish I could help with that personally, but I don't have the drawing skills or drawing tools to join in. I could recommend various famous illustrations from the textbooks and professional handbooks as illustrations to prioritize for the project, if another editors think that would be helpful.
Does WikiProject Genetics collaborate with any other WikiProjects? What can be done to improve communication and coordination between Wikipedia's scientific projects?
There is pretty good interchange between WikiProject Genetics and WikiProject Human Genetic History, as one would expect, and I make sure that the WikiProject Psychology is informed about genetics sources that pertain to human behavior genetics.
What are the project's most urgent needs? How can a new contributor help today?
All the articles need to be scanned for excessive reliance on primary sources or not being sourced at all. Any new contributor could dig into one of the sources recommended on the anthropology, human biology, and race source list at a nearby library and choose an article to update with that source in hand.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Human population genetics, alas, gets heavily into flame wars about ethnic history claims and race relations in various countries. Some thoroughly preposterous claims about the early histories of various peoples and their ancestral homelands now exist in Wikipedia article text, and will have to be edited out. It's very important to keep up with the current review articles on human population genetics. So far all of the articles about heritability also need much more work to correctly present that concept to lay readers. There are good recent review articles on that topic too.
Until next week, check out our previous reports in the archive.