Improving science communication with... Wikipedia?


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Many people turn to Wikipedia articles when introduced to an unfamiliar medical term, especially when it pertains to themselves or a loved one. But who writes these articles? Some come from within The University of Edinburgh, where fourth-year students in the Reproductive Biology BSc programme have been creating articles about previously unpublished medical terms for the past six years.

In this episode, Áine Kavanagh, a former student from The University of Edinburgh's Reproductive Biology BSc, and her former professor and program organiser, Norah Spears, detail a class project which involves developing new Wikipedia articles about unpublished medical terms. They discuss this with Ewan McAndrew, The University of Edinburgh's Wikimedian in residence, and Lucy Crompton-Reid, the Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK. This episode is the third of our Wikimedia Series, which aims to recontextualize Wikimedia's role in academia on its 21st birthday.

The quartet cover captivating questions: What do students gain from these types of projects? What strategies are used to write scientific articles that are digestible to a lay audience? What role do diagrams play, and how are they created? And, does Wikipedia Medicine have a higher 'standard of proof' than other Wikipedias? This exciting, informative episode is an essential listen for anyone interested in how medical articles on Wikipedia are actually formed, and how projects such as these can be integrated into the curriculum.


2:09 - Beginning of conversation, with insight into the Wikipedia project involved in the Reproductive Biology BSc course

4:57 - The group discusses: Does the project work in practice? Áine and Norah detail their experiences

10:00 - The group discusses the role of diagrams in medical Wikipedia articles and how they are created

12:40 - Lucy gives a personal anecdote about using Wikipedia with a medical issue

Music for this episode was provided by Hooksounds.

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