800K views and counting: professor improves healthcare content on Wikipedia

From scientist and reference librarian to curriculum mapper and professor, Heather McEwen, MLIS, MS has worn many scholarly hats – and she’s more than earned her newest title of Wikipedian, enhancing articles that have since been viewed more than 800K times! 

Having attended four Wiki Scientists courses over the past year, three of which were sponsored by the WITH Foundation, McEwen remains dedicated to enhancing healthcare and disability information on Wikipedia, underscoring the crucial role Wikipedia plays in increasing equity in public health.

“Quality information is important to patients and families,” said McEwen. “Wikipedia articles are a resource patients can discuss with their health care team to improve patient outcomes.”

Heather McEwen
Heather McEwen
Image courtesy Heather McEwen, all rights reserved.

Noting the initial challenge of selecting an article to enhance, McEwen focused her search on finding articles missing citations or large sections of critical information. 

Ultimately, she discovered Wikipedia articles at the intersection of the course themes and her own personal interests, adding content and citations to articles including De Barsy syndrome, jellyfish dermatitis, evidence-based medicine, tetracycline, congenital rubella syndrome, Alagille syndrome, and Reye syndrome.

McEwen, who particularly enjoyed the creative process of adding content and the chance to expand her biomedical knowledge, was surprised to discover a broad network of scholars actively contributing to Wikipedia.

“I was not aware of the complexity of the behind-the-scenes at Wikipedia,” McEwen explained. “I have also been impressed with the effort to involve scientists and students in improving Wikipedia articles.”

As associate professor of both Family and Community Medicine and Pharmacy Practice at Northeast Ohio Medical University, McEwen co-leads and teaches in the evidence-based medicine thread for first year and second-year medical students. She also serves as the Curriculum Mapper for the university. McEwen credits the WITH Wiki Scientists courses with keeping her on task and on track toward her goals of improving articles amidst her extensive professional responsibilities.  

“I think [editing] is a great way for scientists, health care professionals, librarians, and students to ensure quality information is available to anyone able to access Wikipedia,” said McEwen. “Your work can be seen by a larger population than traditional academic publishing.”

To connect with McEwen on Wikipedia, find her editing under the username EBMLibrarian.

Interested in learning how to add your own expertise to Wikipedia? Explore Wiki Education’s upcoming courses for subject-area experts.


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