Earlier today the esteemed Journal of Medical Internet Research published a viewpoint paper authored by a collaborative writing group of medical doctors, scientists, and students who are part of WikiProject Medicine, titled “Wikipedia as a key tool for global public health promotion.” The paper (available in its entirety on the Journal site, and posted under a CC license) reviews a range of recent studies examining the quality and breadth of medical information on Wikipedia, concludes that the material is broad and accurate, and further urges medical professionals around the world to join the project and contribute their information to the sum of all knowledge. There are more than 20,000 medical-related articles in Wikipedia, and a further 6,000 drug-related articles.
The authors are all active in the WikiProject Medicine, one of hundreds of collaboration projects on Wikipedia focussed on specific topic areas. Wikipedians work together in WikiProjects to identify under-represented topic areas, list articles needing quality improvement, and recognize each others’ considerable achievements in the topic space. WikiProject Medicine was founded in 2004 by Dr. Jacob F. de Wolff, and now includes more than 200 active editors from a range of backgrounds, including nurses, researchers, physicians, and laypeople.
The paper urges physicians and medical professionals to find ways to incorporate contributions to Wikipedia into their work, suggesting ideas for scholarly incentives or possibly issuing continuing medical education credits. To get involved, visit WikiProject Medicine. You may also want to check out some introductory how-to-edit guides posted by the Wikimedia outreach team.
The authors and Wikipedians contributing to the viewpoint project:
- James M. Heilman, MD, CCFP(EM), is an emergency physician at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Moose Jaw Union Hospital, Moose Jaw, Canada. He is also associated with the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine in Saskatoon, Canada.
- Eckhard Kemmann, MD, FACOG, is a retired faculty member at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UMDNJ-Robert Wood, Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States.
- Michael Bonert, MD, MASc, is an anatomical pathology resident at the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
- Anwesh Chatterjee, MRCP, is a respiratory medicine specialty registrar at the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Poole General Hospital, Poole, United Kingdom.
- Brent Ragar, MD, is an attending physician at the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
- Graham M. Beards, DSc, is a specialist biomedical and clinical scientist in microbiology at Walsall Manor Hospital, Walsall, United Kingdom.
- David J. Iberri is a medical student at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont, United States.
- Matthew Harvey, BMed, is an anatomical pathology registrar at the Anatomical Pathology Department, Pathology Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. He is also an associate lecturer at the Division of Cellular and Molecular Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
- Brendan Thomas, MD, is a dermatology resident at the department of Dermatology, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
- Wouter Stomp, MD, is a PhD candidate at the Department of Radiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
- Michael F. Martone is a medical student at Rush University Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
- Daniel J. Lodge, MD, is a resident at the Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
- Andrea Vondracek, PhD, is a post-doctoral researcher at the department of Immunology, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine and National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado, United States.
- Jacob F. de Wolff, MRCP, is an emergency physician at the Department of Acute Medicine, West Middlesex University Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
- Casimir Liber, MBBS, FRANZCP, is a psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry, Bankstown Health Service, Sydney, Australia, and a conjoint lecturer at the School of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
- Samir C. Grover, MD, FRCPC, is an assistant professor of medicine at the Division of Gastroenterology, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
- Tim J. Vickers, MSc, PhD, is a staff scientist at the Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States.
- Bertalan Meskó, MD, is a PhD candidate at the Medical School and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary.
- Dr. Michaël R. Laurent is a specialty registrar in internal medicine at the Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
We’re deeply appreciative of the pioneering work that these editors are carrying out on Wikipedia, alongside their ongoing professional careers. Wikipedians from all walks of life, and from around the world, are collaborating to further expand the quality and breadth of Wikipedia’s freely available and reusable medical information – furthering the Wikimedia mission of spreading free knowledge around the world. Thank you!
Jay Walsh, Communications