Information Design


Print Design

Wikipedia for Researchers

Wikipedia is the top search result for almost every topic, so is now the world’s main knowledge repository by default. Academics and researchers are still suspicious of it, though – how can a website be reliable if anyone in the world can edit the content? Some institutions have poured resources into setting up their own alternative information repositories, but these usually labour in Google obscurity or become rapidly outdated. A better strategy is to engage with Wikipedia, helping make it an even more reliable and useful resource – one that, incidentally, costs nothing to administer, and where each page gets hundreds or thousands of readers a day.


  1. The history of Wikipedia
    Since 2001, with just a few staff and no advertising, it has grown to 22,000,000 articles in 285 languages. Hundreds of thousands of people edit it each day.
  2. How Wikipedia works
    Registered and anonymous editors, stubs, talk pages, editing and reversion, deletion, citation, and edit history.
  3. How vandalism is corrected
    Obvious and subtle vandalism, editors and robots.
  4. Assessing an article’s reliability
    Accuracy of Wikipedia vs encyclopaedia, where inaccuracies are likely, Wikipedia’s problem spots, and reading a change history to spot unscrupulous editing.
  5. Wikipedia’s five pillars
    • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a newspaper or a vanity press.
    • It’s written from a neutral point of view, citing reliable sources.
    • Everything is freely available and in the public domain.
    • There is a particular etiquette for resolving disputes respectfully – learn it.
    • Be bold but not reckless when editing; every past version is saved.
  6. Copyright and plagiarism
    Public domain vs copyright, the Wikimedia commons, and how to cite Wikipedia.
  7. Teaching with Wikipedia
    Getting students to improving articles instead of writing essays – public writing they will have to research, reference, and argue for.
  8. Wikipedians in Residence
    Institutional hosting of a Wikipedia editor; relocating website resources, harnessing local expertise, contributing to the public domain, benefiting from Wikipedia links.

Who is this for?

Academics, researchers, and journalists who rely on Wikipedia but want to know more about how it works, so they can both use it better and improve it.


60 min talk + 60 minute hands-on editing workshop if desired