Help:Wikipedia editing for medical experts

Thank you for your interest in sharing medical knowledge on Wikipedia. New editors with a background in medical science who are interested in helping to improve and maintain the quality of Wikipedia's medical articles are greatly appreciated.

Note: This help sheet was created from Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine) and Wikipedia:MEDHOW. It is strongly suggested that you review these two documents before you make significant edits to Wikipedia's medical pages.

Introduction: Transiting from medical academic writing to WikipediaEdit

Many of Wikipedia's medical editors are clinicians, students, and researchers who are transitioning between an academic style of writing and Wikipedia's encyclopedic style. This can take some time and patience, but once you get the hang of it, many people in medical fields find contributing to Wikipedia an important way to share knowledge. In English Wikipedia alone for example, medical-related pages received over 2.27 billion page views in 2017 from around the world.[1]

Quick notes for medical professionals transitioning from communicating science in a peer reviewed journal to Wikipedia

  1. Wikipedia articles are a summary of high-quality secondary sources. We do not write "mini-reviews" of primary research studies directly. For experts who are new to editing Wikipedia, this style of writing is an adjustment from writing review articles or research papers for publication. This is discussed further in the next section.
  2. Wikipedia's articles are not medical advice, but are widely used as a source for health information,[2] please keep this in mind when you are adding content.
  3. Paraphrase all content added into your own words (no quotations), but avoid writing in the first- or second-person.
  4. Wikipedia uses terminology like "people" or "person" rather that "patients" when referring to people who have a condition. We also use people-first language, avoiding "a person suffering from...", preferring "a person with ..."
  5. Wikipedia articles are written in clear language so that people without a background in medicine can understand the sentences.
  6. For technical or medical terms, please include a "wikilink" the first time the term is mentioned.
  7. Conflict of Interest (COI): Many medical editors are subject matter experts in their particular field and their ability to detect errors and omissions in articles is extremely helpful to maintain article quality. Please review the COI section (below) before adding your own publications.
  8. When editing medical articles on Wikipedia, being knowledgeable will permit the expert to find high quality reliable sources to use in Wikipedia articles. Personal experience or unpublished knowledge cannot be added to articles (please see WP:MEDRS discussed below).
  9. Wikipedia has its own manual of style for medical articles. Please review WP:MEDMOS before adding new headings to articles, modifying the article lead, or adding large paragraphs.


  1. ^ "WikiProject Medicine/Popular pages/Total". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  2. ^ Laurent, MR; Vickers, TJ (2009). "Seeking health information online: does Wikipedia matter?". Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 16 (4): 471–09. doi:10.1197/jamia.M3059. PMC 2705249. PMID 19390105.

What medical evidence is appropriate to use in Wikipedia articles?Edit

Content that is biomedical information must accurately summarize recent, high quality, published secondary sources, where experts in the field have already gathered up and defined current knowledge. Such sources are described in the WP:MEDRS guideline, which has broad and deep consensus in the community.

Summary of WP:MEDRSEdit

Examples of acceptable sources:
  • Literature reviews or meta-analyses published in high quality journals
  • Statements and clinical practice guidelines shared by major medical/scientific authorities (NIH, NAS, CDC, NHS, FDA, mainstream colleges of medicine)
  • Textbooks are also acceptable.

Examples of non-acceptable sources:

  • Research papers, including clinical trial papers, are generally avoided, as they are communicating new findings, which may or may not be or become accepted knowledge in the field.
  • Anything published by a predatory publisher or marginal journal (for the latter, being MEDLINE indexed is typically a minimum).
  • Sources older than around 7 years (there are, however, fields where new reviews are not generated regularly -- in those cases older sources are fine).
  • University or hospital website resources.


Wikipedia editors do not make their own analysis of sources (e.g: deciphering reports from clinical trials/scientific studies). Secondary sources, where collation and analysis have already taken place by external parties, improves reliability and removes potential biases from the content.

Learn more and test your knowledge of Wikipedia Guideline for Reliable Sources in MedicineEdit

Try this online learning module produced by the WMF Education Foundation. EDITING MEDICAL CONTENT ON WIKIPEDIA.

Getting Started: How to edit WikipediaEdit

The first step is to set up a Wikipedia account here. Your username can be anonymous or not, whichever you prefer.

Quick Guide to getting started:

  • Once logged in, open the Wikipedia article you are interested in contributing to and read it, taking note of the references used.
  • Then gather together the sources you intend to use to improve the article.
  • It is recommended that you practice editing in your sandbox – there's a link to it at the top right of each page. You can copy text there, alter it, add references, etc. You can make and fix mistakes there without affecting any articles until you feel you are ready.
  • Before editing an article, open it and look at the top of the screen; you will see the following tabs: 
  • You should first look at the article "talk page" by clicking the [Talk] tab. This will contain any recent community discussion(s) pertaining to the article content, and information about the quality rating and relative importance of the article. Afterwards click on the [Article] tab to return to viewing the article.
  • Most internet browsers allow you to switch to the newer "visual editing" (VE) mode. Please enable the visual editor in your preferences following these instructions: Wikipedia:VisualEditor/User guide#First step: enabling VE. If you cannot enable VE, editing and adding citations can be done in the basic wikitext editor by following the instructions at WP:MEDHOW.
  • Once the visual editor has been enabled and you have your evidence and reference (as per MEDRS, above), click the "edit" tab. Being logged in at this stage will help the community identify and correspond with you.
  • Add your text directly to the article while in the editing mode. A citation is preferred after every sentence in the body of the Wikipedia article. To add your medical citation, click the "cite" button. Paste your PMID in to populate the citation. Please place your citation directly after the punctuation like this,[1] or like this.[1] See WP:MEDHOW for more details.
  • When you have completed your edit, include a short summary of your edit. Then click Publish changes or Submit changes.Example of edit summary: "Added conclusions of a 2018 systematic review"
  • Finally, look at the star to the right of [View history] on the tab bar. If it is not already coloured blue, then click it. This places the article on your personal watchlist, so you can monitor your edits and work with the community. Changes to the article can be viewed by clicking "View history".
  1. ^ a b example of where to place citation in a sentence

Conflict of Interest (COI) on WikipediaEdit

There are three kinds of conflict of interest in Wikipedia that experts are vulnerable to:

  1. writing about themselves, their friends, or their institution.
  2. giving emphasis to their own positions in controversies in their field.
  3. citing their own work.

The first is easy to avoid. The second is challenging, but dispassionately summarizing high quality sources is possible, even in contentious areas. Finally, if an expert editor has written one of the recent high quality secondary sources in the field, citing that is welcome. If you do cite your own work and the content and sourcing is challenged, please discuss this on the article talk page, disclosing that you are the author, and the community will work together to improve the article in a neutral manner.

Wikipedia's guideline on conflict of interest can be found here: Wikipedia:Conflict of interest

Common shortcuts and FAQsEdit

How do I insert a wikilink to another article on Wikipedia?
Highlight the text that you want to link, and click the link picture   on the editing toolbar to search for the appropriate link.
My edit was recently reverted. What should I do?
If there was no explanation, or you disagree with the explanation, start a new section at the bottom of the article talk page, explaining why you think your edit improved the article. If you get no response within a day or two, make a post in a new section at the bottom of Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine, asking for someone to look at the issue.
I see a primary source presently being used in the Wikipedia article that does not meet WP:MEDRS. What should I do?
After reviewing WP:MEDRS (see above), if available, primary sources in articles should be replaced by high quality secondary sources that meet Wikipedia's Guideline for Reliable Sources in Medicine (WP:MEDRS).
I am not certain if my source meets WP:MEDRS. How can I find out before I edit live?
Check the archives of the article talk page to see if it's been discussed previously. If not, make a post in a new section at the bottom of Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine, asking for someone to give you their opinion. You could ask on the article talk page or at the Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard instead.
I want to practice editing before going in live on Wikipedia. Where can I do this and where can I go for help?
Always practise in your sandbox first. If you need assistance, the editors at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine are always very helpful with medical issues, and the Teahouse is a welcoming place for new editors to ask for general advice and help.
I disagree with a recent change to my edit. What should I do next?
Start a discussion in a new section at the bottom of the article talk page, and explain why you think the change did not improve the article.
I want to re-write most of the Wikipedia article as I disagree with the present content. What is the first step?
Work in your sandbox to write up how you think the article should look. Then get some advice from an experienced editor – ask at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine – on how best to transform the current article into your version. It may be better to make one big change or to make a series of small changes, but you'll need experienced help to make that decision.
I do not feel comfortable with a discussion on the talk page. Where do I go for help?
If it's over a medical issue, then ask at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine. For general issues, you'll probably find the Teahouse is a good place to start.
How do I leave a note on a talk page?
Along the tab bar of a talk page, you will see [New section]. Click on that and fill in a brief title for the "Subject/headline". Then write your note in the edit box below that. Finish by signing your note with four tildes (~~~~) which will add your username and a timestamp to your post.
How detailed should the information I add be in the Wikipedia article? For example, do I need to add all the information about the systematic review?
Information added to Wikipedia articles does not usually need to include methodological details about the systematic review or meta analysis. For example, if a Cochrane Review is being cited, it is usually not necessary to include information from the PICO annotation in the Wikipedia article. It is also not usually necessary to state that the evidence came from a Cochrane Review (i.e., we usually do not include "A 2020 Cochrane Review was performed...". The strength of the evidence shared is sometimes helpful to include in the Wikipedia article (e.g.: "The is strong evidence to support XXX (intervention)" or "Weak evidence suggests that ABC may be helpful for a person with XZY"

See alsoEdit