October 19, 2014

New Study Finds “Medical Research Suffering From a Bad Case of Wikipedia”

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From the Montreal Gazette/National Post:

…a new Canadian study has found that thousands of peer-reviewed papers in medical journals have cited Wikipedia in recent years – and the number of references is increasing fast.

The trend – apparent even in some of the world’s most influential medical publications – raises the possibility of spreading misinformation and “could potentially affect care of patients,” researchers from the University of Ottawa say in a paper just published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

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What struck the study authors most, though, is that the citations began to multiply in the last three years.

“The biggest surprise was the trend,” said Dr. Sylvain Boet, an Ottawa Hospital anesthetist and researcher who headed the study with Dr. Dylan Bould, another anesthetist. “It’s exponential … It goes against all the principles of scientific reporting and referencing.”

The problem is not only the accuracy of the information – which has actually been rated surprisingly high – but that Wikipedia articles are constantly changing, and tend to only summarize primary or secondary information sources, rather than containing original research themselves, the authors say.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to Full Text of the BMJ Article Discussed, “References that anyone can edit: review of Wikipedia citations in peer reviewed health science literature”

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.