Draft:Original research inquiry

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Chicago Pile-5 is the last of the original research projects leading to modern nuclear reactors. Credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

Original research is a two-word term. It usually does not occur in a dictionary.

This is an inquiry into what is original research.

"The term "original research" (OR) is used on Wikipedia to refer to material—such as facts, allegations, and ideas—for which no [WP:V#Sources] reliable, published source exists. This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that [WP:SYN] serves to advance a position not advanced by the sources."[1]

"By "exists", the community means that the reliable source must have been published and still exist—somewhere in the world, in any language, whether or not it is reachable online—even if no source is currently named in the article. Articles that currently name zero references of any type may be fully compliant with this policy—so long as there is a reasonable expectation that every bit of material is supported by a published, reliable source."[1]



  1. the "act of inquiring; a seeking of information by asking questions; interrogation; a question or questioning"[2]
  2. a "[s]earch for truth, information, or knowledge; examination of facts or principles; research; investigation; as, physical inquiries"[2]

is called an inquiry, or enquiry.


"Research that consists of collecting and organizing material from existing sources within the provisions of this and other content policies is fundamental to writing an encyclopedia. Best practice is to research the most reliable sources on the topic and summarize what they say in your own words, with each statement in the article attributable to a source that makes that statement explicitly. Source material should be carefully summarized or rephrased without changing its meaning or implication. Take care not to go beyond what is expressed in the sources, or to use them in ways inconsistent with the intention of the source, such as using material out of context. In short, stick to the sources."[1]


On Wiktionary, original usually means first in time. But, what about synonymy? Suppose someone creates a synonymy for an original sentence. Is this truly a synonym or is it original research? Usually, the idea of putting the sentence into your own words indicates synonymy. And, the proof is left to the reader. Should it be?

In the Wikipedia article persuasive definition: "A persuasive definition is a form of definition which purports to describe the 'true' or 'commonly accepted' meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an uncommon or altered use, usually to support an argument for some view, or to create or alter rights, duties or crimes.[3][4]" I cannot confirm that this definition is in the references indicated.

Consider the following sentence from the Wikipedia article persuasive definition: "A persuasive definition is a form of definition which purports to describe the 'true' or 'commonly accepted' meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an uncommon or altered use, usually to support an argument for some view, or to create or alter rights, duties or crimes."[5]

In the history of the Wikipedia article definition, there is "Definitions should avoid being what C.L. Stevenson calls 'persuasive'. A persuasive definition is one which purports to describe the 'true' or 'commonly accepted' meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an altered use, perhaps as an argument for some view, for example that some system of government is democratic. Stevenson also notes that some definitions are 'legal' or 'coercive', whose object is to create or alter rights, duties or crimes."[6]

While I do not have ready access to Stevenson's publication, which synonymy is the exact synonymy and are any relative synonymy? "In his Ethics and Language, Stevenson defines the term 'persuasive definition' as follows: "In any 'persuasive definition' the term defined is a familiar one, whose meaning is both descriptive and strongly emotive. The purport of the definition is to alter the descriptive meaning of the term, usually by giving it greater precision within the boundary of its customary vagueness; but the definition does not make any substantial change in the term's emotive meaning. And the definition is used, consciously or unconsciously, in an effort to secure, by this interplay between emotive and descriptive meaning, a redirection of people's attitudes" (Stevenson, 1944)"[7]

If these are not all exact, perhaps the authors between Stevenson and the present have strayed slightly from exact synonymy. Relative synonymy may be a form of original research.

Original researches[edit]

Def. "new research, as opposed to review or synthesis of earlier research"[8] is called original research.

Reliable sources[edit]

Def. "[s]uitable or fit to be relied on; worthy of dependence or reliance; trustworthy"[9] is called reliable.

The categories for synonymy and most common usage place reliable in "142. STABILITY"[10], followed by "512. CERTAINTY", then "972. PROBITY"[10].

Def. "[t]he person, place, or thing from which something (information, goods, etc.) comes or is acquired"[11] is called a source.

Def. "[t]o rest with confidence, as when fully satisfied of the veracity, integrity, or ability of persons, or of the certainty of facts or of evidence; to have confidence; to trust; to depend"[12] is called rely.

Def. "[t]he quality of a measurement indicating the degree to which the measure is consistent, that is, repeated measurements would give the same result"[13] is called reliability.

Def. "the closeness of agreement among repeated measurements of a variable made under the same operating conditions over a period of time, or by different people"[14] is called reproducibility.

The categories for the most common uses are reliability: "512. CERTAINTY", rely and reliance: "500. BELIEF", but the second most common category of usage for reliable is "512. CERTAINTY".[10]


To demonstrate that you are adding OR, you must be unable to cite reliable, published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and directly support the material as presented.

All material added to articles that is not original research or original synthesis must be attributable to a reliable published source, even if not actually attributed. "The [Wikipedia:Verifiability] verifiability policy says that an inline citation to a reliable source must be provided for all quotations, and for anything [WP:CHALLENGED] challenged or likely to be challenged—but a source must exist even for material that is never challenged."[1]

Least publishable units[edit]

A "least publishable unit" (LPU) is an older expression for the smallest possible fact that has been determined to be a fact that just might be publishable, and has not as yet been published.

LPUs seem to be everywhere yet each one probably has an originator who may have included it in a published context somewhere. When one occurs in a text without attribution to an earlier source, the author including it usually gets the credit, and the honor, of introducing that little fact to everyone.

Some LPUs require extensive research and exploration to determine what they are and prove that they are. The phrase "dominant group" initially appears to be an LPU. Its earliest origin on Wikipedia is not known.

Def. "new research, as opposed to review or synthesis of earlier research"[8] is called original research.

Primary sources[edit]

Primary sources that have been reliably published may be used. Any exceptional claim may be original research.

Def. "[a] historical document that was created at or near the time of the events studied, by a known person, for a known purpose"[15] is called a primary source.

"Primary sources are original materials.[16]"[17]

"In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source (also called original source or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. Similar definitions are used in library science, and other areas of scholarship. In journalism, a primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document created by such a person."[17]

"[I]t is through the primary sources that the past indisputably imposes its reality on the historian. That this imposition is basic in any understanding of the past is clear from the rules that documents should not be altered, or that any material damaging to a historian's argument or purpose should not be left out or suppressed. These rules mean that the sources or the texts of the past have an integrity and that they do indeed 'speak for themselves', and that they are necessary constraints through which past reality imposes itself on the historian."[18]

"As a general rule, modern historians prefer to go back to primary sources, if available, as well as seeking new ones, because primary sources, whether accurate or not, offer new input into historical questions, and most modern history revolves around heavy use of archives for the purpose of finding useful primary sources."[17]

"In scientific literature, a primary source is the original publication of a scientist's new data, results, and theories. In political history, primary sources are documents such as official reports, speeches, pamphlets, posters, or letters by participants, official election returns, and eyewitness accounts. In the history of ideas or intellectual history, the main primary sources are books, essays and letters written by intellectuals."[17]

"The following questions are asked about primary sources:

  • What is the tone?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the purpose of the publication?
  • What assumptions does the author make?
  • What are the bases of the author's conclusions?
  • Does the author agree or disagree with other authors of the subject?
  • Does the content agree with what you know or have learned about the issue?
  • Where was the source made? (questions of systemic bias)"[17]


Combining material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources is considered synthesis (a variety of original research). If one reliable source says A, and another reliable source says B, then joining A and B together to imply a conclusion C that is not mentioned by either of the sources is synthesis.

Def. a "formation of something complex or coherent by combining simpler things"[19] is called synthesis.

Def. a "reaction of chemical elements or compounds to form more complex compounds"[19] is called synthesis, or chemical synthesis.

Def. a "deduction from the general to the particular"[19] is called synthesis, or logical synthesis.

Def. a "combination of thesis and antithesis"[19] is called synthesis, or philosophical synthesis.

Def. "the examining and combining of processed information with other information and intelligence for final interpretation"[20] is called synthesis, or military intelligence synthesis.

Def. an "apt arrangement of elements of a text, especially for euphony"[21] is called synthesis, or rhetorical synthesis.

Tests of term[edit]

Several different tests or learning packets (lessons) may be generated from the original research project focused on the term "dominant group". Currently under development in resource space is Dominant group/Metagenome/Term test. The term "dominant group" is an interesting example and possible test for original research vs. ordinary usage. It has no ordinary usage dictionary definition. But, there are several technical or theoretical definitions for scholarly use. Curiously, if an author uses the term in a sentence, for example:

The course of evolution has been changed several times by mass extinctions that wiped out previously dominant groups and allowed others to rise from obscurity to become major components of ecosystems.

The author may be speculating or engaging in original research.

This example is close to the cited statements in dominant group/paleontology. But, there is a distinct difference: "The course of evolution has been changed several times" is not the same meaning as the authors indicate in "dominant group/paleontology".

Additional aids in determining what each student should or could do can be found in these wikiversity articles:

  1. Dominant group/Classes
  2. Test of term.

Unattributed but attributable[edit]

"That "Paris is the capital of France" needs no source, because no one is likely to object to it and we know that sources exist for it. The statement is attributable, even if not attributed."[1]

It is not that someone would object, but rather that the facts should be presented to speak for themselves.

Paris appears to have been the official capital of France from May 28, 1871, until the present.


For example, the first astronomical X-ray source in the constellation Andromeda is not known. Researchers have detected many X-ray sources within the borders of the constellation. But, the first such source has never been designated or stated anywhere in the primary literature. Searching the existent primary literature is certainly valuable research that may suggest one or more likely sources. Confirmation that one of these is detected at an earlier date than the others may no longer be available. Is this only research? Or, is it original research?


  1. Original research should be new research in a field where some results are achievable.
  2. Original research is not a conjecture synthesized from the words, conclusions, or experimental facts of others. It is the results of experimentation to prove a conjecture or hypothesis right or wrong.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Wikipedia:No original research, In: Wikipedia". San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. October 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 inquiry. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. August 16, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
  3. Nicholas Bunnin, Yu Jiyuan (2004). Persuasive definition, In: The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781405106795. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  4. Philosophy Pages. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  5. AxelBoldt (January 29, 2007). Persuasive definition Revision as of 02:15, 29 January 2007, In: Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  6. Renamed user 4 (October 15, 2006). Definition Revision as of 11:25, 15 October 2006. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  7. Tom Claes (2003). David Seth Preston, ed. Definitions of 'the university' as Arguments in the Evaluative Discussion on 'the university', In: The Idea of Education. Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V. pp. 121–36. ISBN 90-420-1146-7. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  8. 8.0 8.1 original research. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 25, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  9. reliable. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. April 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Peter Mark Roget (1969). Lester V. Berrey and Gorton Carruth, ed. Roget's International Thesaurus, third edition. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company. p. 1258. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  11. source. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. May 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  12. rely. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. June 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  13. reliability. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. December 25, 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  14. reproducibility. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. September 23, 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  15. primary source. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. February 16, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  16. Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources – James Cook University
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Primary source. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. July 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  18. E. Sreedharan (2004). A Textbook of Historiography, 500 B.C. to A.D. 2000. Orient Longman. p. 302. ISBN 81-250-2657-6.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 SemperBlotto (25 June 2005). synthesis. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  20. CORNELIUSSEON (20 July 2006). synthesis. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  21. synthesis. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-11.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

{{Dominant group}}{{Linguistics resources}}

{{Semantics resources}}{{Terminology resources}}{{Universal translator}}