Wikipedia shapes language in scientific papers

October 27, 2017

"Wikipedia is one of the world’s most popular websites, but scientists rarely cite it in their papers. Despite this, the online encyclopedia seems to be shaping the language that researchers use in papers, according to an experiment showing that words and phrases in recently published Wikipedia articles subsequently appeared more frequently in scientific papers"

“Thompson and co-author Douglas Hanley, an economist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, commissioned PhD students to write 43 chemistry articles on topics that weren’t yet on Wikipedia. In January 2015, they published a randomized set of half of the articles to the site. The other half, which served as control articles, weren’t uploaded.

Using text-mining techniques to measure the frequency of words, they found that the language in the scientific papers drifted over the study period as new terms were introduced into the field. This natural drift equated to roughly one new term for every 250 words, Thompson told Nature. On top of those natural changes in language over time, the authors found that, on average, another 1 in every 300 words in a scientific paper was influenced by language in the Wikipedia article.”


#Wikipedia shapes lang. in science Seeding it with new pages & watching them evolve (v ctrls) as a type of soc. expt