According to a 2017 study by Pew Research Center, “most Americans say they get science news no more than a couple of times per month, and when they do, most say it is by happenstance rather than intentionally.” People primarily learn about science from general news outlets. But what information are they receiving exactly? And where can they go if they want to learn more? Answer: they go online—often to Wikipedia.
When citizens are informed, they can make policy decisions and behavioral choices that have a positive effect on our planet’s future, especially when it comes to local action related to science policy in their own communities. The urgency of science communication has never been stronger.
Reaching the public through Wikipedia
The National Science Policy Network (NSPN) believes the scientific community has an obligation to participate in the Wikipedia community to ensure the public has access to high-quality scientific information, especially as it relates to real-world policy decisions. But the barriers for entry into the “Wikipedia ecosystem” can deter scientists, especially early career scientists, from taking the time to learn Wikipedia’s technical, procedural, and cultural practices.
NSPN is sponsoring seats in a Wiki Scientists course to bolster the availability and accuracy of science policy information on Wikipedia. Selected members will participate in an in-depth, structured training about how to contribute science policy content to Wikipedia, giving early career scientists and engineers the dedicated time and support they need to join the Wikipedia community. NSPN Wiki Scientists will collaborate weekly over 6 weeks to edit at least one Wikipedia article related to science policy.
Apply now to join the next cohort of NSPN Wiki Scientists!
National Science Policy Network’s goals
- Improve the content of existing Wikipedia articles related to Science & Technology topics (e.g., Water resource policy, Endangered species, Funding of science, Genetic privacy, Artificial intelligence arms race);
- Generate new policy-focused articles on Science & Technology topics (e.g., Facial recognition systems in the United States);
- Give NSPN members the skills to amplify their impact by adding critical science policy information to Wikipedia.
- Expand NSPN’s cohort of members who collaborate to improve science policy articles on Wikipedia, as a recent study found targeted work like this significantly increases those pages’ visibility and readership. This group is systematically communicating crucial science to the public, and NSPN wants you to be a part of this initiative.