National Science Policy Network Wiki Scientist course

National Science Policy Network Wiki Scientist course

“The public looks to Wikipedia to make informed political decisions. If I can make that information more accurate and complete, that’s a good use of my time.”

In Wiki Education’s synchronous course, you’ll meet online once a week with your peers and amplify your impact as professionals by adding critical science policy information to Wikipedia.





500 million readers come to Wikipedia each month to shape their understanding of topics; their behavior; and ultimately the world. When scientists add neutral, fact-based information to the site, they inform policy makers and voters on the critical role science and technology has in our community.

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.

As a part of the NSPN 2020 Election Initiative, 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 3 months to edit Wikipedia articles related to science policy that will inform voters during the 2020 United States election and campaign. 

Course details

Participants meet virtually each week on Fridays from 12:00 – 1:00pm Pacific to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia. The upcoming class meets weekly from September 6, 2019 – November 22, 2019 (12 weeks). 


Downloadable syllabus


National Science Policy Network’s goals

  • Improve the content of existing Wikipedia articles related to Science & Technology topics prominent in the election cycle (e.g., 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.

Expectations of participants

  • No experience with Wikipedia is required or expected.
  • Available for virtual meetings on Zoom, weekly for one hour. 
  • Participants commit 3 hours/week, including a one-hour weekly class and independent work.
  • Participants will make significant contributions to at least two Wikipedia articles about science policy by the end of the course.
  • Participants must have access to the internet and a computer.
  • Participants will fill out short surveys at the beginning and end of the course, and select participants will get the opportunity to be featured on Wiki Education’s blog.
  • The NSPN Initiative team requires brief written updates to the NSPN Initiative Committee.
  • Participants should be “Full Members” of NSPN, which costs $5 annually. If applying for this course, please register for membership here.


There is nothing more satisfying than providing content for the world’s most accessible platform for anyone to see, respect, and admire. And in the end, I gained far more than I donated.*


Additional information

In a 2018 MIT publication, researchers found correlational and causal evidence that Wikipedia shapes scientific literature and knowledge. Scientists who get involved in Wikipedia editing become actors of change and progress, not only for public education but for future scholarship in their field. Read more… 

Wikipedia offers a huge educational platform. We’ll help you identify where you can make the biggest impact with your science communication efforts. Read more…

Practicing your writing through Wikipedia helps cure academic writer’s block. Read more…

What does creative thinking education mean for scientists? And what does it have to do with Wikipedia? Read more…




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