Improving medical content accessed by millions: Wikipedia and the WikiJournal of Medicine

Tags: Poster
Dawson J1, May M2, Hutton MO2, Dellavalle R2
1Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and Cochrane, 2University of Colorado School of Medicine

Background: Wikipedia’s health content receives over 10 million visits per day from around the world, across 286 languages. Efforts to improve the quality of the content and ensure that articles are not biased are ongoing and include student and trainee-based initiatives. The Cochrane Skin Wikipedia Project, which includes recruiting and training medical students and dermatology residents to improve Wikipedia with Cochrane Evidence, has improved over 73 skin-related Wikipedia articles as of 2020. Collectively, these articles have received over 27.8 million page views since 2018. Wikipedia activity, editing (via character counts and references added), and article page views can be meticulously tracked on Wikipedia, however, providing academics and students with formal recognition and credit for their contributions on Wikipedia is not common.

Objectives: Our goal was to work with the student group to improve a Wikipedia article and submit the article to The Wikijournal of Medicine, an open-access peer-reviewed journal that accepts Wikipedia article submissions.

Methods: In 2019, Cochrane Skin collaborated with Cochrane’s Wikipedian in Residence to improve and polish the Leprosy Wikipedia article.

Results: Over a 12-month period of time, the students, Wikipedia volunteers, and international Leprosy experts reviewed and added over 79 new references and 18733 characters to the article. This article was submitted to the WikiJournal of Medicine in March 2020 and students are presently working through the peer-review process.

Conclusions: This new model of improving and polishing an existing Wikipedia article, submitting to an open-access journal, and working through the peer-review process is a valuable experience for students and helps ensure that medical information accessed via Wikipedia is accurate and up to date.

Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: Medical articles on Wikipedia are viewed millions of times a day by patients and healthcare consumers around the world. Ensuring that the evidence shared on Wikipedia is unbiased, up to date, and accurate is an important dissemination strategy to ensure people are accessing high-quality information pertaining to their health.