Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Scientific Communication: Practices, Theories, and Pedagogies


Han Yu, Kathryn Northcut

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Last Page



Wikipedia, the digital encyclopedia, has approximately 15 billion page views a month and is a platform where editors worldwide collaborate to improve content on topics, including the questions above. Wikipedia supports science communication in several ways. It helps readers comprehend information and contributors clarify the meaning and implications of scientific knowledge. The anatomy of Wikipedia is symmetric, allowing for ease in contribution and discussion. Wikipedia-based assignments range from making small edits, such as copyediting a series of science-related topics, adding citations, or inserting internal links to existing Wikipedia pages, to more substantial contributions. Challenges faced by students necessitate 'just-in-time" instruction on reference reliability, content incorporation, and rules regarding plagiarism. Students in 'Natural Disturbances and Society' are tasked to contribute content to a series of disturbance articles on Wikipedia based on research in primary literature. Substantial contribution to Wikipedia can be as simple as locating and expanding a Stub, short undeveloped articles on a notable topic.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in Scientific Communication: Practices, Theories, and Pedagogies on 22 September 2017, available online: