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Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2018-02-05/Special report

Cochrane–Wikipedia Initiative: A partnership to improve and update Wikipedia's medical content


Wikipedia is a powerful public health knowledge-translation tool. Across all languages, medical-related Wikipedia articles receive over 10 million visits per day from around the world.[1] To improve the quality of health-related Wikipedia articles, the Cochrane-Wikipedia Initiative was developed in 2014. Presently, there are over 2000 uses of Cochrane Reviews in Wikipedia. Many Cochrane Groups are training Wikipedia editors and developing new ways to share high-quality evidence on Wikipedia. Wiley and the Cochrane Library have distributed over 85 free accounts to Wikipedians to support the sharing of Cochrane evidence on Wikipedia.

What is Cochrane?

Cochrane is a global non-governmental organization that works with a network of contributors from around the world. These collaborative teams produce Cochrane Reviews, a high-quality source of health-related information. Cochrane Reviews help people make informed decisions about treatment options by providing a summary of the best evidence in the field. Cochrane Reviews are peer-reviewed, credible, and unbiased (Cochrane does not accept funding from commercial sponsors or other potential conflicts of interest, for example). Cochrane Reviews meet Wikipedia’s reliable sources for medical articles criteria WP:MEDRS.

Improve the evidence base of Wikipedia articles using Cochrane evidence

New Pneumonia cartoon.jpg
Pneumonia was updated with new evidence from a Cochrane Review thanks to this initiative. See JenOttawa's Cochrane-Wikipedia dashboard for more.

Many content errors in Wikipedia articles are due to not enough skilled editors inserting new evidence.[2] A new Cochrane project is tackling this! We have created a Wikipedia project page that includes a list of all the Cochrane Reviews not presently in Wikipedia. Volunteers will be directed to the project page, given Wikipedia-editing support, and encouraged to “be bold” (Wikipedia-style) and select Cochrane Reviews to insert into Wikipedia. There are over 5000 reviews on the list, and while not all of the reviews will have an obvious home in Wikipedia, it is our goal to work through the list over the next 12 months and add in new Cochrane content. We are recruiting editors for this new task through Cochrane's TaskExchange or visit the project page directly and start editing!

Keeping Cochrane evidence up to date in Wikipedia articles

Cochrane Reviews are updated regularly based on need and updated reviews receive a new citation on MedLine. Once these updates are published, the next step is to update the citation within the Wikipedia article and make sure that the new conclusions are reflected on Wikipedia. Out of date Cochrane Reviews are flagged automatically in Wikipedia with the "Cochrane-Update-Bot", that is now run once a month. This volunteer task does not take a lot of time to perform, but the potential impact is very large. Between May 2017–October 2017, volunteers updated 340 Wikipedia articles and the articles have already received close to 32 million views. Please check our project updates page for articles newly eligible to update.

If you are interested in becoming involved or want more information, please visit the Cochrane-Wikipedia Initiative project page or contact User:JenOttawa.

Jennifer Dawson works with Cochrane’s Communications and External Affairs team as a Wikipedia Consultant. Her role includes maintaining and building further relations with Wikipedia, connecting new editors to the Wikipedia community, and supporting requests for engagement in Wikipedia work from the Cochrane community.

  1. ^ Heilman, James M.; West, Andrew G. (2015-03-04). "Wikipedia and medicine: quantifying readership, editors, and the significance of natural language". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 17 (3): e62. doi:10.2196/jmir.4069. ISSN 1438-8871. PMC 4376174. PMID 25739399.
  2. ^ Shafee, Thomas; Masukume, Gwinyai; Kipersztok, Lisa; Das, Diptanshu; Häggström, Mikael; Heilman, James (November 2017). "Evolution of Wikipedia's medical content: past, present and future". Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 71 (11): 1122–1129. doi:10.1136/jech-2016-208601. ISSN 1470-2738. PMID 28847845.