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Wikipedia talk:Notability (academics)

Miscellany for deletion This miscellaneous page was nominated for deletion on 7 February 2006. The result of the discussion was keep. An archived record of this discussion can be found here.
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This discussion was begun at Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Nicholas J. Hopper, where the early history of the discussion can be found.

See Wikipedia:Notability (academics)/Precedents for a collection of related AfD debates and related information from the early and pre- history of this guideline (2005-2006) and Wikipedia:WikiProject_Deletion_sorting/Academics_and_educators/archive for a list of all sorted deletions regarding academics since 2007.


Criteria 1 recognition of collaborative achievementsEdit

I'm copying this excerpt from Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Sarah Tuttle#Arbitrary break to outline the general idea of a proposal I'd like to make but will wait a few days before setting forth specific language for it:

@ජපස: would you support amending NPROF-C1 to include membership in groups shown to have "pioneered or developed a significant new concept, technique or idea, made a significant discovery or solved a major problem in their academic discipline"? Major advances are rarely attributable solely to individuals, and haven't been for at least a century. The NPROF-C1 criterion requirement that we have to prove that a singular "person" is responsible for an advance prevents a large proportion of the most prestigious award-winners from meeting it. It's not uncommon for breakthrough papers to have more than a dozen authors, and for good reason. Will you join the cause to allow Wikipedia to recognize achievements of collective efforts? EllenCT (talk) 19:04, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
You are absolutely right that the current NPROF guideline relies on a great man theory in a way that is more than a little problematic. Perhaps better to remove C1 entirely? I think we really need to provide more general guidance for combatting WP:BIAS in notability discussions. Perhaps a guideline such as WP:STRICT SCRUTINY or something where we say, all else being equal, recognize that historic biases can influence the appearance of notability as it has been leveled at this website. While Wikipedia has a default to keep option, with WP:BLP this often goes the other way for protection reasons (to good effect often, but it's variable as can be seen in situations such as this). Perhaps we should talk about this in a different venue, though. jps (talk) 19:12, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Ideally, someone else who has more familiarity with AFDs impacted by this issue will propose a specific change before I do. EllenCT (talk) 22:57, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

This is a tricky one. It does come up sometimes in deletion discussions, for scholars in fields where many-author papers are common; typically, in those cases we look at first-author papers (because the author order is informative). In some other fields, like mathematics, author order is meaningless (alphabetical). My own feeling is that I would consider membership in a small and equal group of authors with a notable contribution named after them (like the Aanderaa–Karp–Rosenberg conjecture as a reason for notability for Aanderaa) as counting towards #C1. However, for the recent case of Katie Bouman and the black hole image (certainly a notable collaborative achievement) Bouman would not have been notable if she were merely one of the many members of this collaboration; in that case, it is the press's elevation of her as the face of the achievement that made her notable, rather than the achievement itself. So I am wary of changes in wording that might take this too far in one direction or another. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:13, 4 May 2019 (UTC)
Trying to decide what work is "significant impact" is an asinine activity. Standing on the shoulders of giants is only part of the issue. Wikipedia should not be in the business of trying to identify significance. Rather we should rely on reliable sources that attest to the work of the academic. That ought to be enough. jps (talk) 23:50, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

The community recently repeatedly reconfirmed consensus for WP:NFOOTY's bar of one (1) professional game. Why doesn't an academic get "in" with one (1) published paper? I can't reconcile those two notability standards in my head. Levivich 01:19, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

The logic NSPORTS uses is that if you have played a professional game , that means you had to have had some significant career in your sport that would make you a consideration for a major professional team (college or minor or ametuer league), and there will nearly always be documentation from that lower level of play or from the team hired into that is secondary about the athlete. Whereas, a single paper has no bearing on the academic's prior history, since the academic journals aren't judging the author, only the content during peer-review. So there's no assurance of any secondary sourcing here. --Masem (t) 01:32, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
The more natural equivalent would be that anyone tenured at a research university must have published multiple significant pieces of research, there will nearly always be large numbers of citations to those publications that can be considered as secondary sources, and there will always be recommendation letters (that unfortunately we can't see) that provide a neutral independent and in-depth assessment of the person. Setting the bar at that level would be looser than what we have now but I think still considerably stricter than NSPORTS. However, it would be too US-centric for me to be comfortable with it as a standard. —David Eppstein (talk) 01:48, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Numbers of citations is a terrible way to decide this. IT will always rely on WP:OR of Wikipedians to decide thresholds... and those thresholds will be argued ad infinitum to be different based on the area of study, the specialization of the work, the active years of the author, and so many other factors... including the arguments in that AfD that suggests leniency based on historical biases of marginalized peoples. Absolutely a ridiculous quagmire - and one that is skewed towards academics themselves dominating such discussions. Instead the C1 guideline should be what independent sources describe. Keywords like "renowned", "respected", "authoritative", "prodigious", and the like would be the things we should look for in those sources. -- Netoholic @ 02:01, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
So you think we should look for sources that use the most highly promotional verbiage, and treat these opinions about personalities as being overwhelmindly more authoritative than publications that are actually about the specific scholarly accomplishments of the subject? An interesting opinion, but not one I share. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:20, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
This is the real world, Wikipedia just reflects it. I am sure there are plenty of other professions which would love to have Wikipedia drop our standards to allow them to get a coveted Wikipedia article. -- Netoholic @ 04:44, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
And you're ready to step in to help them? Now all they need to do is hire a publicist to get those adjectives into puff pieces about them? —David Eppstein (talk) 04:46, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Seems like you'd prefer Wikipedia to fulfill that publicist/promotional role. You're wanting to turn Wikipedia into a secondary source -where we refer to primary sources like university profiles, etc. Academics are not "owed" anything, so no one on Wikipedia has to "step in to help them". There is an entire ecosystem of academic tit-for-tat puffery out there. Wikipedia shouldn't be part of that. Its clear from recent events where academics complained about their profiles on Wikipedia being deleted that they value them as publicity. Turns my stomach. Its WP:What Wikipedia is not. -- Netoholic @ 05:08, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Say what you will about the low bar of NSPORT, but it is a bar. It's just not possible for any old wannabe to decide one day that they're going to be listed on Wikipedia as a notable athlete, and make it happen by paying for enough publicity as an athlete, because the top-level teams decide who gets to play for them and they don't take wannabes. Something more or less like that is true for PROF, with a messier but higher bar. There are plenty of wannabes who do a little research, think they're the next Einstein, and write their own Wikipedia autobiography on how great they are. (See Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Saurav L. Chaudhari for an ongoing likely example.) But they get stopped and deleted (at least in the egregious cases, and when the new page patrollers aren't asleep) because making a scientific accomplishment that people actually make note of is very difficult to fake. You want to take all that away and replace it with publicity puff pieces saying how distinguished they are (and by the way, in feminist circles "distinguished" is a loaded word because it basically means older white man) that anyone with enough time and persistence could buy. How is that an improvement? Or, to put it another way, yes, there are plenty of egotistical academics. Some of them are also accomplished, some of them are not. We should focus on how accomplished they are, and neither let the egotistical but non-accomplished ones buy their way in nor try to keep the egotistical but accomplished ones out. Journalists are good at finding egotistical people who are entertaining story-tellers and really really bad at distinguishing true accomplishments from hype. Neutral academic sources are much more trustworthy than popular media about where the real accomplishments are. —David Eppstein (talk) 05:31, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
NSPORT at least makes a good effort to require that independent sources are used to establish satisfaction of its criteria. Its not enough that someone played a professional game - that fact must be reported in an independent source, also (and realistically might be easily satisfied simply by the game being broadcast and the sportscasters noting the player). Its not what the criteria is on PROF that is the matter - its what sourcing requirements for proving that criteria was met that is the current issue. -- Netoholic @ 05:43, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
The only issue is in your mind, where you have made up false sourcing requirements that throw out perfectly good sources (like the ones academic societies write about their award-winners) and substitute them with bad ones (newspaper hype). —David Eppstein (talk) 05:54, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Not at all. I am fine with subject-specific notability guidelines having specific criteria and requiring fewer/less-deep sources which prove those criteria are met, so long as independent sources are used for that purpose. It strains Wikipedia's integrity to say that, if you're an academic, we will suspend a core policy requiring independent sources in order that you get an article on our site. It makes it harder to say to other industries that they can't have the same special treatment. I remain deeply concerned that it is academics themselves on this very discussion page that are suggesting that we reduce our standard. We can find better ways to include academics than to turn our backs on core policies. Maybe start WP:WikiProject Academics in Red? Maybe you know. Is there a database/resource for academics out there that is independent of them, but provides basic biographical information? Something we can import and use across a wide swath of articles. I really an not against inclusion of academics, but we must keep our integrity about it. -- Netoholic @ 06:08, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
You keep falling back to an argument by authority — it's core policy! we must obey! — and avoiding any reasoning about why we might have policies like that, what the policy is intended to accomplish, and whether your repetitive and reason-free allegiance to your own made-up ideas about what it means to be independent is in line with the intended effects of that policy. —David Eppstein (talk) 06:15, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I mean, I guess you could say that, but I don't see how I'm wrong in thinking our core policies are, you know, kinda important. I could say you're making an appeal to pity for the poor, downtrodden academics that just can't catch a break in the media... but media is just one kind of independent source. -- Netoholic @ 06:19, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes we have policies, but they're trumped by WP:Five Pillars, the fifth of which says "The principles and spirit matter more than literal wording". I agree with David Eppstein that it makes little sense to apply the policy requiring independent sources to faculty bios at reputable universities. Universities dearly treasure their reputations as do almost all academics, and their campuses are filled with independent thinkers ready to protest at the first hint of dishonesty. It's inconceivable that they would publish false information regarding the qualifications of their faculty members, especially purely factual information such as academic appointments, awards, and publications. -Zanhe (talk) 09:18, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
"throw out perfectly good sources (like the ones academic societies write about their award-winners)"
I don't believe that's what's being recommended. There's a gap between "We picked the best academic in the world for our annual prize" and "Let's give a prize to our dear Chairman Bob". When the organization gives an award to one of its own, then that's not independent. When they pick an academic who is merely one of thousands of other members, then that's no different in independence from a non-academic group giving an award. (Namely, it's primary and non-independent about the club's action, and potentially independent of and a potentially secondary source for the awardee's accomplishments, except for the ever-present danger that the blurb about the awardee was written by the awardee. At least we can claim a fig-leaf's worth of editorial review there, though, and editors will generally accept that as independent-ish, if not fully independent.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:41, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
"Chairman Bob" depending on the org and the position already passes Prof. 6. And if the argument is that that is not independent recognition it has to be wrong because it is independent recognition. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:36, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I agree with WhatamIdoing that the usual prize-giving by reputable scientific societies is potentially independent and, I would claim, sufficiently independent when it comes to the awardee's accomplishments. Given that WP:IS says why we should strive for independent sources, namely that independence is meant to help us write a NPOV article that does not fall into the traps of self-promotion, treating the awardee unfairly, or giving too much credence to the awardee's own views, a major scientific society definitely meets the criteria of being independent from an awardee in the sense that matters for WP:IS. Zanhe is right, though: The proposal by Netoholic here demanding multiple independent sources that are, in addition, independent of each other would mean that, say, the AAAS stating that person A had been made a fellow would not be considered sufficient evidence any more of person A having been made a fellow, and hence being sufficiently notable for their article to be safe from deletion. I (and others) think it's absurd, but yes, that is apparently really what is being proposed here. Markus Pössel (talk) 14:59, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Alanscottwalker, if the Catholic Church gave an award to one of its bishops, would you consider that organization to be an independent source about the bishop? I'd put "Chairman Bob, who just happens to head the award committee, gave himself the award" in the same category. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:11, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, that would be dumb. Since all bishops have articles, they seem to be notable, so if your point is that all Chairman Bob's (who fall in point 6) should have articles, fine. Note, your statement was not even responsive to mine, my point was that the Chairman Bob's of No. 6 pass Prof before the award. Alanscottwalker (talk)! Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:17, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
You're assuming that Chairman Bob is the head of the whole org, and not just the chair of the awards committee. You're also assuming that the chair of the org qualifies under #6, which is not necessarily always true. For example, we always create articles on people who win the Nobel Prize in Physics, but I don't see any mention of the committee members anywhere in that article. Nobel Committee for Physics has a lot of redlinks, and I doubt that any of them became eligible for an article on the basis of their membership there. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:18, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
No. I didn't assume. I stated that the fictional Bob, who you've only now further fictionalized as the chairman of the awards committee, would be pass prof if his position falls under point 6. Point 6 is a position of recognition by independent others. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 02:19, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────One thing I've seen argued is that press-releases by universities/institutions we hold in high-regard at this website are not evidence of notability. I would like to see this argument eliminated. We should be wary that such sources can be problematic for various reasons (overly promotional, written by non-experts, etc.), but that's something to discuss at the level of content curation. It should not be used as a means to claim "not an independent source" unless there is strong evidence that this the press-release was gamed (by being, for example, released by an institution in the pocket of the individual). jps (talk) 16:45, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

You said this below, and I responded below. This is a ridiculous argument. Allowing university profiles to be used to determine notability would mean that every member of every university faculty should have a Wikipedia article. Natureium (talk) 19:05, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
No it wouldn't. Not every university faculty member has an in-depth profile. jps (talk) 19:56, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
jps, would you please clarify your idea down a little? Is it that we should accept:
  1. press releases specifically (so materials sent from the PR department to journalists are okay, but the alumni magazine produced by the same PR department, or a blog post written by the same PR person, is not),
  2. all types of PR materials from universities (so a press release from Big U. is good, but an equivalent press release from an equally reputable academic non-profit is not), or
  3. something else? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:26, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I think any publication issued by a university or institution about a person is evidence of notability. The only thing I worry about is when, for example, some person starts their own Institute and starts issuing press releases to promote themselves. There is a difference between surreptitious self promotion and institutional notice. jps (talk) 19:55, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
It's clear that a school like Oxford or Yale or MIT is not going to put out press releases related to its academics to self-promote, but as you start going down the line to less-influential schools but that are still accredited institutions (mid- to low-tier state schools, for example), but self-promotion may become more significant. (I mean, consider during any college football or basketball televised event there is at least one ad from the schools to promote recruitment). It's hard to draw the line where a school would be safe to be free of self-promotion from others. It's why it is better that these are fine to meet #1, but should be very wary for evaluating the notability in the long-term. --Masem (t) 20:03, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
This is not at all clear to me. Publicity efforts at top-tier research universities have a lot to do with self-promotion of both the school and their staff. Fundraising efforts depend upon the media attention they generate. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:27, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────I would want to see an example of such a problem to take this concern seriously. For a counter example, there are many people who argued that a profile posted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory was not clear evidence of the notability of the subject since the scientist in question was an employee. jps (talk) 20:14, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

You could call that an example or a counter example. Natureium (talk) 20:17, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Well, I doubt anyone is calling ORNL the institutional equivalent of a mid- to low-tier state school. I guess I could be wrong about that. jps (talk) 20:21, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
jps, just academic orgs? Are we supposed to agree that other non-profits are suspicious, government agencies are self-centered, for-profits only send out press releases about their staff to make a buck, but academic orgs are motivated purely by, um – come to think of it, you didn't say why you think some of those schools spend millions of dollars a year on their publicity efforts. Yale's paying 38 PR folks right now. Why's a press release from them supposed to be evidence that someone unconnected with their faculty paid attention to their faculty, but an identical source from your local hospital isn't? Or should we accept press releases from anyone whose alleged motive isn't money? Or just bigger orgs?
And why the heck are we supposed to pretend that something put out directly by Yale, about Yale and its members, isn't connected to Yale? I get that admitting that Yale's talking about Yale's self is a problem for normal guidelines, but how about we admit to the basic facts? WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:25, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
I didn't say we pretend it's not in the interest of the institution to do this. I'm just saying even if it is, the existence of such a profile is evidence of notability. I'm mostly interested in academic-related topics because, well, that's what this guideline is ostensibly about. jps (talk) 20:31, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
So your belief is that non-independent, self-published attention from a university (but not, say, from a hospital), about one of its own, should be counted as proof that a person is eligible for an article on Wikipedia.
This is despite the fact that it is admittedly (a) attention from me-and-my-own rather than "attention from the world at large", and (b) the contents of that attention is likely to respond rationally to the incentives before it (e.g., to overstate my virtues and underplay my vices) in ways that make compliance with NPOV challenging, if not impossible (assuming that there aren't independent sources available to balance that, because if there were, then we wouldn't need any special exceptions).
Why should we volunteer to host a group of articles that is likely to be systematically biased? And what is unique about academics that makes them deserve preferential treatment? WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:05, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
An in-depth profile of a doctor at a hospital published by a hospital would also be fine with me as evidence for notability of a doctor. I'm perplexed as to why you think I'm being institutionally prejudicial here. jps (talk) 22:06, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
Notability: Notability is the property of being worthy of notice, having fame, or being considered to be of a high degree of interest, significance, or distinction. A profile of any employee posted to the employer's website is only evidence that the employer has taken notice of the employee - not that the outside world has. Wikipedia's WP:Notability guideline is based on using independent sources to show that. It applies to products posted on company website or CEO's posted to a company website. It applies to any employee being posted to any employer's website - and that includes professors. It is flatly required by core Wikipedia policy of WP:V#Notability that we use independent sources for this single purpose of determining notability - i.e. that someone outside the influence of the subject has taken notice of the subject. -- Netoholic @ 22:13, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
You are failing to understand that notability is a guideline to help Wikipedians figure out what kind of article is and is not possible to write. This is unfortunate because I have always been a champion of independent sourcing on Wikipedia, and I will certainly continue to be, but this is only a guide to drive users towards getting neutral articles without engaging in original research. What we absolutely should not do is pretend that employers necessarily are conflicted when they publish a biography of an employee. An employer and an employee are not the same thing. jps (talk) 22:20, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
No, this is a notability guideline... as shown in its title. What you're describing is more of a WP:Writing about academics tutorial/suggest/best practices guide. EVERY other notability guideline requires independent sources for the strict purpose of determining notability. Employee/professor profiles are fine to include - but they cannnot be used as evidence of notability in the wider world... which is what notability guidelines are for. -- Netoholic @ 22:34, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────I know there is a strong temptation for users at this website to be rule-bound, but you have to understand that this guideline was invented by the community for a purpose. I am describing what that purpose is. What has happened lately is that people such as yourself have attached their own meaning to these guidelines beyond the intent of what they were originally meant to do. That's to be expected, but it is by far and away not the only interpretation that we have. The reason for notability guidelines is to provide a rough outline of how one can write a neutral, verifiable article without original research. If someone is able to do that and the subject of the article is deemed "not notable", Wikipedia should keep the article because, clearly, the notability threshold is not doing what it was supposed to do. Since we're supposed to document best practices, it is even advisable to modify the guideline so that we can avoid inane discussion such as this one. jps (talk) 22:55, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

Cite IAR all you want, but it is impossible to "write a neutral, verifiable article without original research" based only on dependent sources. That's what WP:V#Notability means. IAR is meant, not to simply ignore the rules you think shouldn't apply... its meant to be used when the rules just get in in the way of you putting words up on the screen. IAR means, go ahead and unWatch this page and just go to work. IAR is something you invoke personally - not something you can push on others. I like the WP:V#Notability rule, its easy to follow. You can IAR and just write articles, but then you have to leave it to people like me to apply the policy and take it from there. Sometimes that means we'll find the independent sources we need... and if that fails, then we'll delete it... but since you are in IAR-mode, you can just ignore that process and keep writing. -- Netoholic @ 23:59, 5 May 2019 (UTC)
You keep saying that word impossible. I do not think it means what you think it means. It is perfectly possible to write a neutral, verifiable, OR-free article using sources that are primary and dependent but trustworthy. There are limits on what the article could include (probably it would need to stick to uncontroversial factual statements and avoid opinion), and it might or might not be allowed by some Wikipedia rules, but that's a different question. —David Eppstein (talk) 00:15, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
There is an implicit part of notability that we are using sources to show to the world at large why this topic is important. Explaining that is original research that WPians cannot do , so we require the secondary sources in the article to establish that. so to that point, it is impossible for an article only using dependent sources to be considered neutral for that purpose. This is nothing against universities, any accredited university is not going to be lying or falsifying details, but its more about being consistent across WP; NCORP had to be tightened even for schools, churches, and other organizations you'd take for grant for reputation. --Masem (t) 00:33, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm sorry, being consistent across WP is no longer a reason to establish blanket rules because there are many, many articles I can point to which are so absurd that I cannot believe they survive deletion discussion (remember the argument over schools? over Pokemon? over ever road in the US?). We have to have different standards depending on what the subject is. jps (talk) 02:14, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
WP is always a work in progress, and we're at a stage that we recognize many of the early attempts at notability have failed. eg there's no special notability allowances for fictional characters outside the GNG, NPORNBIO is gone, and NCORP worked to establish a guideline across all types of organizations including schools. This is just part of that process. --Masem (t) 02:22, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I think it is perfectly possible to recognize that some primary sources are better than others. I remember a time when instead of "independent sources", people were hot-and-bothered about WP:PSTS. We moved away from that because some primary sources are fantastic. Universities and national labs are pretty fantastic at providing high quality sources. It's okay for us to acknowledge this. jps (talk) 02:58, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
Try this. Ignore all the information in Christine Seidman that didn't come from a Harvard/Partners Healthcare source. It would still have basic information, but wouldn't be very interesting. Does it pass notability? Yes, because she's a member of several prestigious academic societies. Is the information verifiable? Yes, I've attached references to the Harvard website where the information is given. Is it independent? No. I might have an example of an article on someone clearly notable yet even more dependent on primary sources, but this is one I have handy from writing it earlier today. There are legitimate problems with NPROF (why are we using h-index to claim notability?), but this is not one of them. Natureium (talk) 00:41, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
I think what you are saying is that NPROF helps you feel confident to write articles when there is a lack of independent sources. Many of us are arguing that these "dependent sources" are themselves indicators of notability in spite of the obsequious manner in which people have internalized the "independent source" notability rules. Rules, I might add, that were invented by community consensus and were really meant to be guidelines rather than steadfast policy. jps (talk) 10:49, 6 May 2019 (UTC)
No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that these dependent sources are irrelevant to the question of notability. Notable academics will qualify regardless. You repeatedly trying to make this same point isn't helpful. Natureium (talk) 11:53, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

Not to pursue undue consistency across the project, but NAUTHOR uses as one of its criteria The person has created or played a major role in co-creating a significant or well-known work or collective body of work. In addition, such work must have been the primary subject of an independent and notable work (for example, a book, film, or television series, but usually not a single episode of a television series) or of multiple independent periodical articles or reviews. It seems to be a that a significant contribution to peer-reviewed, coauthored studies which, in turn, are cited in other, independent, peer-reviewed, coauthored studies would be a criterion that fits this logic and works much better in practice than Netoholic's attempt to bring in subjective characterizations of the achievement of academics. In fact, the latter approach seems to me to run directly counter to the whole approach underlying the GNC, which typically avoids such subjective characterizations. Newimpartial (talk) 15:38, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

@ජපස: Welp, I really didn't expect all that. Sheesh! Do you think I should move forward with the original proposal? EllenCT (talk) 03:35, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

My guess is that we won't find consensus for that. I think we might do better with a simplification of the criteria. jps (talk) 10:31, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
You're probably right, but now that everyone is thinking about it seems as good a time as ever to get the ball rolling. EllenCT (talk) 20:09, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

RFC on Criteria 1 recognizing collaborative workEdit

Should NPROF Criteria 1, "The person's research has had a significant impact in their scholarly discipline, broadly construed, as demonstrated by independent reliable sources," be changed to, "The person's research or collaborative efforts in which they were a substantial contributor have had a significant impact in their scholarly discipline, broadly construed, as demonstrated by independent reliable sources."? 20:10, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

  • Support as proposer. We should recognize co-authors of influential works. EllenCT (talk) 20:12, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In practice, it will be too difficult to define a "substantial" contribution. There is a great deal of collaborative scholarship, particularly in the sciences, and this change would open up many needless disputes over multi-author papers. The intention here should be to presume notability when independent sources document "significant impact", regardless of the role of the individual person. Either the person has done something significant, or they have not. And if what they did was indeed significant, that fact will be reflected in independent sources. So a collaborator who is identified by independent sources as having done something notable will already satisfy this criterion, without the need for additional debatable language. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:18, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Couldn't agree more with Tryptofish. Being fifth author on a 13-author paper is rather meaningless for establishing notability. --Randykitty (talk) 21:30, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Just having been on a team that made a noteworthy contribution doesn't mean an individual is notable. Microsoft Windows is certainly notable, but that doesn't mean every developer who's worked on it is. This would not be good guidance for choosing appropriate subjects for biographies where there is likely to be sufficient sourcing for a full article. Seraphimblade Talk to me 22:18, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Tryptofish, the proposal as worded is redundant with existing guidelines. I'm having a hard time thinking of examples of significant "collaborative efforts" that an academic might work on that wouldn't be covered by "the person's research". signed, Rosguill talk 22:23, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In all collaborative work there is distinction between the contributions made. Some are leadership roles, some are just routine technical contributions. Xxanthippe (talk) 22:42, 24 May 2019 (UTC).
  • Oppose - As worded. Concerns as per above, and also that it seeks to elevate too many WP:SINGLEEVENT people. -- Netoholic @ 04:08, 29 May 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose (Summoned by bot) – there's often a kind of rough parity, or equal-weight balance of notability gravitas among the "any-one-of" bullet points in the criteria lists on notability child pages; not that that's a requirement, but it seems logical and well thought out. The proposed change would water down the first criterion, in a way that throws it out of balance. In my opinion, the current wording is better, and avoids a flood of turnstile-jumping from a stream of assistant profs who have gotten a byline on their first article or two with their doctoral advisor or department head, and can't quite meet the somewhat higher bar on any of the remaining eight criteria. Mathglot (talk) 05:51, 17 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose per main discussion. WP:IFITAINTBROKE   —  Hei Liebrecht 14:47, 24 June 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Being a collaborator on work has absolutely no bearing on whether that person is likely to meet WP:GNG. SportingFlyer T·C 19:07, 24 June 2019 (UTC)


"The person is in a field of literature (e.g., writer or poet) or the fine arts (e.g., musician, composer, artist), and meets the standards for notability in that art, such as WP:CREATIVE or WP:MUSIC." Why does this exist? Wouldn't those people just use those guidelines instead? Natureium (talk) 18:44, 7 May 2019 (UTC)

Presumably (i.e., I have no idea if this is really true) it is to avoid arguments about which SNG to apply. It seems like a harmless redundancy to me. --JBL (talk) 18:47, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
How about we get rid of it and simplify things? Natureium (talk) 18:48, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
I do not feel strongly one way or the other (in particular, I would not object to removing it) but I would also probably wait for input from more people than just me. --JBL (talk) 18:59, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
On the face of it, it would seem to be redundant with the earlier "Academics/professors meeting none of these conditions may still be notable if they meet the conditions of WP:BIO or other notability criteria". My assumption is that it's there as an explicit criterion to head off arguments that WP:PROF is an extra bar that all academics notable for their academic activity must pass; instead we explicitly state that some academic activity is subject to other criteria. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:22, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Offhand, I don't recall any academic-biography AFD invoking a "keep per WP:PROF#C9"; people just say that it passes the GNG, or WP:AUTHOR, or whatever. But it may be useful to keep around as an explicit reminder. "Fails WP:PROF" is not the end of the story, if a person was an academic along with doing other things (politics, music, sports) for which they are more noteworthy. In short, I don't think C9 makes the guideline broken, so I wouldn't remove it. XOR'easter (talk) 21:45, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
FWIW: I scanned through a bunch (maybe 5 weeks worth?) of recent deletion discussions of academics, and the string "C9" did not appear in any of them. So it doesn't seem to get explicitly invoked very often, at least not in that form. --JBL (talk) 22:05, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
I'm not saying it's broken, I'm saying it's useless. It already says that if someone passes a different notability guideline, they would be notable without passing NPROF. I think we should remove it because there's no reason for it, and simplifying guidelines makes Wikipedia easier for more casual editors to understand. Natureium (talk) 22:11, 7 May 2019 (UTC)
Personally, I found it useful as a newcomer. It isn't obvious to outside users that there are notability guidelines to start with. If someone is preparing an academics' biography, they would likely stumble across WP:PROF, if only because an editor pointed to it. From there, any explicit pointer to other guidelines that could be useful is great help. – egaudrain (talk) 12:38, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
While I can see the benefit of pointing to other guidelines for the benefit of new users, I think it would be more beneficial to this guideline to tighten and focus it so there are no ambiguities about it's intended purpose. It is true CREATIVEs can be academics, but for most of these subjects it is easier to show that the subject meets one or the other, instead of both. I think the caveat at the top of the list (may still be notable if they meet the conditions of WP:BIO or other notability criteria), basically meaning that other notability criteria exist, is enough. --- Coffeeandcrumbs 13:29, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Do I need to start a whole 30-day RfC in order to get consensus for this change? Natureium (talk) 14:07, 8 May 2019 (UTC)
Is there any way to search for links to C9 itself, to see if removing it would break any old discussions? XOR'easter (talk) 15:02, 10 May 2019 (UTC)
  • I suggest we move that wording up behind the "other notability criteria" wording as a parenthetical: "(For example: . . . .). Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:41, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
I know this discussion has kind of petered out, but I'd also support removing it. Per JBL above it doesn't get used and it's obvious. If folks at AfD start forgetting that several notability guidelines can apply, then we can add it back. Otherwise it's just clutter for readers of this guideline. Ajpolino (talk) 15:04, 17 June 2019 (UTC)

Notable academic awardEdit

Is the Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Epidemiology [1] from the American Diabetes Association a notable award? Could it have its own article (or listicle) like the Bader Award? Would its recipients be automatically eligible for an article under WP:ACADEMIC? Thsmi002 (talk) 00:12, 30 May 2019 (UTC)

Although it might contribute to the notability of a person, it would not by itself suffice. Xxanthippe (talk) 02:32, 30 May 2019 (UTC).
Update, I started the article Kelly West Award. To date, every recipient meets WP:ACADEMIC, although many are still redlinks. Thsmi002 (talk) 13:38, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for looking into this. It seems like there are a huge number of these awards that are not considered sufficient evidence of notability on their own, but are exclusively given to academics who are of a stature that they meet criterion #1 (I spot-checked about a quarter of the Kelly West recipients and they all met C#1 by a mile). I'm of the opinion that keeping track of all these awards and listing them as an explanatory note to C#2 is not worth our time. But they are convenient ways to generate lists of scientists for whom we should consider writing articles. Ajpolino (talk) 14:37, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

How to check if a professor would match the guideline?Edit

There's an academic in Shenzhen named Mary Ann O'Donnell who was profiled by CNN: She did co-edit a book (and wrote two chapters in it), Learning from Shenzhen, but beyond that I don't know how to check her publications/awards. If I knew where she worked before, the archives on the Wayback Machine might say... WhisperToMe (talk) 18:56, 2 July 2019 (UTC)

@WhisperToMe: This request looks like WP:NOTAFORUM to me. I don't see why lurkers here would research a professor in whom you're interested. I recommend, since you were made an admin in 2003, that you search and see if the subject passes the criteria listed here. Co-editing a book, even a notable one, isn't enough to my mind. Chris Troutman (talk) 19:12, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
Chris, considering some of the guidelines themselves are quite open-ended ("The person has had a substantial impact outside academia in their academic capacity.") I feel it would in fact be helpful for lurkers to give advice/feedback on whether the person passes these criteria. This talk page is there to discuss this guideline, yes? I think some examples would be a good idea. Re: the more concrete guidelines (named chair), I don't have evidence at this point that O'Donnell has gotten such posts. WhisperToMe (talk) 19:26, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
It's not unreasonable to suppose that if a good-faith effort by a reasonable, good-faith editor can not turn up any information that supports the notability of someone then perhaps he or she is not (yet) notable by our standards. It's also not unreasonable for that editor to then ask for help or confirmation from others to ensure that he or she has not simply missed some things or made mistakes. ElKevbo (talk) 19:29, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
The academic guidelines are also difficult to apply, especially for someone outside academia. I can't help here, but I don't see how this fails WP:NOTAFORUM. SportingFlyer T·C 19:42, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
The best way to check that is available to everyone is to do a Google Scholar search, and even better, if you have access, as most students or faculty members would, is to use Scopus or the Web of Science. These searches will both give you raw numbers of citations, in fields where they are appropriate (such as the natural sciences), or things like academic book reviews in other fields (such as the humanities). Phil Bridger (talk) 19:45, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
@WhisperToMe: A Google search brings up a CV webpage where you can find the seed information that would allow you to check former appointments and achievements. But perhaps you had found this already...? – egaudrain (talk) 20:40, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
I actually hadn't found that site before! Thanks for that! Anyway the guidelines say "The person is or has been the head or chief editor of a major, well-established academic journal in their subject area." - The CV page says she is "Contributing Editor, Architectural Worlds, School of Architecture, Shenzhen University". Her specialty seems to be the human geography/ethnography of Shenzhen itself (as per the CNN article), so would this count towards that? WhisperToMe (talk) 20:48, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
Contributing editor is a lesser position than editor in chief and is not enough for notability. —David Eppstein (talk) 20:54, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the info! Yes, this is why I feel it's helpful to check a particular academic and clarify these things. Anyway it seems like there's no evidence as of now that she would pass the notability for academics. I may revisit the issue if she passes GNG (if say some passages in published books talk extensively about her), which would be a separate consideration. WhisperToMe (talk) 21:07, 2 July 2019 (UTC)
Also found citations at Google Scholar but so far all seem to be under 100 each... Not sure what would be expected in her anthropology field... WhisperToMe (talk) 21:30, 2 July 2019 (UTC)

The best way of finding if a candidate is suitable is to search through Academic AfDs for the last few years and find how similar people were treated. (As an aside the citation rate of this particular candidate looks too low to get far). Xxanthippe (talk) 02:47, 3 July 2019 (UTC).

She seems to be an independent scholar now, so she does not meet the tenure criterion. However, she does publish in reputable journals and having a book with University of Chicago Press is definitely a significant academic achievement. Coverage by CNN is also something many established academics do not have. Pundit|utter 07:01, 3 July 2019 (UTC)
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