Expert editors can be very valuable contributors to Wikipedia, but they sometimes have a difficult time realizing that Wikipedia is a different environment from scholarly and scientific publishing.

The mission of Wikipedia is to provide articles that summarize accepted knowledge regarding their subjects, working in a community of editors who can be anonymous if they wish. We generally find "accepted knowledge" in high quality secondary sources like literature reviews and books.

Wikipedia has no formal structure with which to determine whether an editor is a subject-matter expert, and does not grant users privileges based on expertise; what matters in Wikipedia is what you do, not who you are. Previously published reliable sources, not Wikipedia editors, have authority for the content of this encyclopedia.

Please do not use Wikipedia to promote your own papers (see WP:REFSPAM and WP:SELFCITE), and please do not author literature reviews in Wikipedia (we summarize reviews; we don't generate them here). There is great advice below — please take some time to read it and consider it, to help you adapt to this environment. We greatly appreciate your desire to help build and maintain the encyclopedia.

General edit

  1. Subject-matter experts are well-equipped to help articles achieve a truly neutral point of view by identifying gaps in articles where important ideas are not discussed, or places where ideas are over- or under-emphasized, and to identify optimal and recent sources in their fields. (See Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine))
  2. No editor is exempt from fundamental Wikipedia policies; in particular, the policies of no original research and verifiability along with guidelines such as reliable sources apply to expert editors just as well. Although other encyclopedias might have articles based on personal "expert opinion" or unpublished conjecture, Wikipedia requires all text to be verifiable to published sources.
  3. Experts, of course, can be wrong; and different experts can reasonably disagree on the same topic.
  4. Wikipedia does not grant additional powers or respect to subject-matter experts. Wikipedia does not have a process for determining (a) who is a bona fide expert and on what subject(s), and (b) in which articles a given expert should edit. Given that many editors, including experts, post pseudonymously, vetting users as experts (identity, credentials or experience) is not practical, even though it is technically feasible to verify a user's identity if disclosed.
  5. In discussions with expert editors, lay editors are encouraged to use experts as a new source of information. Knowing why things are written as they are by the experts will facilitate future discussions.
  6. Despite claims to the contrary from Wikipedia critics, experts (or other editors) do not need to appeal to Wikipedia administrators or arbitrators to remove patent nonsense from the encyclopedia. Unsourced claims which are challenged can easily be removed, though they may be reinserted later by others.

Advice for expert editors edit

  1. Experts can identify themselves on their user page and list any credentials and experience they wish to publicly divulge as it may help fellow Wikipedians who seek advice or expertise. Experts should be aware there is no personal advantage and considerable risk in divulging one's real identity and expertise in this way. However, please see WP:REALNAME, and think carefully before you do this. Do not publicly identify yourself if this could put you at harm in the real world, e.g., from stalkers. It may make more sense to declare credentials without self-identifying. Wikipedia is based on consensus of editors, not on credentialism, so the fact that yours won't be directly verifiable isn't really important. We assume good faith, and generally trust you to be honest.
  2. A bit more on "credentialism" — authors of scholarly works are listed on the work, and the authority of authors matters a great deal to readers. In Wikipedia, there are no listed authors. The only authority for content, is what sources say, and the policies and guidelines under which we summarize them and work together. In its early days Wikipedia did stray into accepting the authority of editors, which led to the Essjay controversy. Since then the community has rigorously adhered to the principle that it doesn't matter who you are or who you say you are — what matters is the quality of the sources you bring and of your edits summarizing those sources, and how well you work with others. You will gain a reputation here, but it will be based solely on what you do here.
  3. Editing an article in Wikipedia is similar in some ways to writing an article for an academic journal and different in others. As with a literature review article you need to provide a solid review of the subject as a whole, accurately summarizing what other published reviews say. But be careful not to add your own interpretation or synthesis of the topic. Support all factual statements with citations in much the same way as required for a journal article. Wikipedia is not a place to publish original research, nor your own synthesis of the research literature. The genre here is "encyclopedia"—each article is meant to provide "a summary of accepted knowledge regarding its subject".
  4. Wikipedia has its own article titles policy and manual of style, geared toward making the encyclopedia as reader-friendly as possible to a broad, general audience, without dumbing down content. These Wikipedia-internal best practices are a careful balance of compromises, and they generally do not match in every detail what is preferred in any particular discipline, since stylistic preferences vary in ways that conflict between different fields. Experts are already familiar with having to adapt their writing style for whatever publication to which they are submitting material, and should approach Wikipedia with the same mindset.
  5. Expert editors can join the WikiProjects concerning their areas of expertise. WikiProjects help articles on related subjects to be coordinated and edited by a group of identified interested parties. All editors are free to join any WikiProject in which they are interested, regardless of expertise.
  6. Experts do not have any privileges in resolving conflicts: in a content dispute between a (supposed) expert and a non-expert, it is not permissible for the expert to "pull rank" and declare victory. "Because I say so" or "because I have a PhD from Harvard" or "I wrote the most-used textbook in this field" are never acceptable justifications for a claim in Wikipedia, regardless of expertise. All editors, whether they are expert editors or high school graduates must cite reliable sources for all claims. Likewise, expert contributions are not protected from subsequent revisions from non-experts. Ideally, if not always in practice, it is the quality of the edits and the reliable sources upon which they are based that counts.
  7. Expert editors are cautioned to be mindful of the potential conflict of interest that may arise if editing articles which concern an expert's own research, writings, discoveries, or the article about themself. Wikipedia's conflict of interest guideline does allow an editor to include information from their own publications in Wikipedia articles and to cite them. This may only be done when the editors are sure that the Wikipedia article maintains a neutral point of view and their material has been published in a reliable source by a third party. If the neutrality or reliability are questioned, it is Wikipedia consensus, rather than the expert editor, that decides what is to be done. When in doubt, it is good practice for a person who may have a conflict of interest to disclose it on the relevant article's talk page and to suggest changes there rather than in the article. Transparency is essential to the workings of Wikipedia.

Advice for new expert editors edit

A guy who never finished HS who can cite sources that support his arguments, is more compelling than a professor who can't.

— TJ Berens,

Advice on working with expert editors edit

Non-expert editors seeking expert advice may want Wikipedia:Expert help, and for social advice Wikipedia:Relationships with academic editors. Wikipedia:Expert retention is about retaining expert editors as active editors on Wikipedia.

See also edit