1. Human Biology and Medicine
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Meta-Research: Reader engagement with medical content on Wikipedia

  1. Lauren A Maggio  Is a corresponding author
  2. Ryan M Steinberg
  3. Tiziano Piccardi
  4. John M Willinsky
  1. Uniformed Services University, United States
  2. Stanford University, United States
  3. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e52426 doi: 10.7554/eLife.52426

Abstract

Articles on Wikipedia about health and medicine are maintained by WikiProject Medicine (WPM), and are widely used by health professionals, students and others. We have compared these articles, and reader engagement with them, to other articles on Wikipedia. We found that WPM articles are longer, possess a greater density of external links, and are visited more often than other articles on Wikipedia. Readers of WPM articles are more likely to hover over and view footnotes than other readers, but are less likely to visit the hyperlinked sources in these footnotes. Our findings suggest that WPM readers appear to use links to external sources to verify and authorize Wikipedia content, rather than to examine the sources themselves.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Lauren A Maggio

    Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, United States
    For correspondence
    lauren.maggio@usuhs.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2997-6133
  2. Ryan M Steinberg

    Lane Medical Library, Stanford University, Stanford, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Tiziano Piccardi

    Computer Science, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. John M Willinsky

    Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, Stanford, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

The authors declare that there was no funding for this work.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Julia Deathridge, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 3, 2019
  2. Accepted: March 6, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 6, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 23, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

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