January 21, 2022

New Article: “The Distorted Mirror of Wikipedia: a Quantitative Analysis of Wikipedia Coverage of Academics”

The following research paper (preprint, submitted for peer review) was posted to arXiv yesterday (October 31, 2013).


The Distorted Mirror of Wikipedia: a Quantitative Analysis of Wikipedia Coverage of Academics


Anna Samoilenko

Taha Yasseri
Oxford Internet Institute


via arXiv


Activity of modern scholarship creates online footprints galore. Along with traditional metrics of research quality, such as citation counts, online images of researchers and institutions increasingly matter in evaluating academic impact, decisions about grant allocation, and promotion. We examined 400 biographical Wikipedia articles on academics from four scientific fields to test if being featured in the world’s largest online encyclopedia is correlated with higher academic notability (assessed through citation counts). We found no statistically significant correlation between Wikipedia articles metrics (length, number of edits, number of incoming links from other articles, etc.) and academic notability of the mentioned researchers and also we did not find any evidence that these scientists are necessarily more prolific than the averages in each field. We also examined the coverage of notable scientist sampled from Thomson Reuters list of “highly cited researchers” in Wikipedia.

In each of the examined fields, Wikipedia failed in covering notable scholars properly. Both findings imply that Wikipedia might produce an inaccurate image of academics on the front end of science and by shedding light on how public perception of academic progress is formed, alert that a subjective element might have been introduced into the hitherto structured system of academic evaluation.

Direct to Full Text Research Article (12 pages; PDF)

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.