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Als je vindt dat informatie gratis moet zijn: ga naar Wikipedia.
(If you think that information should be free of charge, go to Wikipedia).
— Tom Reller, spokesman for the publisher Elsevier, about open access.[1]

The Wikimedia Foundation wikis (including Wikipedia; see list in sidebar) provide a lot of tools that are useful to academics, researchers, and scholars. These tools are free to use and available from any internet connection. Data are backed up on servers with mirrors worldwide. The wiki software, Mediawiki, is actively maintained and developed.

The quid pro quo is that content here must generally be under an open license (with wiki-specific exceptions). Academics who favour open access anyway may not consider this a drawback. This page gives information on how academics can use Wikimedia tools for their day-to-day work.


Study design[edit]

Behind-the-scenes Wikipedia is a good place for hearing about gaps in our knowledge. If you are studying Wikimedia sites, you are encouraged to discuss your study design with the community.

Open research notebooks[edit]

You can keep an open research notebook on Wikiversity. Every edit is automatically recorded, credited, and timestamped, establishing research priority. It is reasonably easy to access and store data in structured, machine-readable formats. List formatting is simple. For tabular data, create a blank table, then edit individual cells with Visual Editor. For an example, click on the "edit" link next to the section title above, and edit the table below.

Example of tabular data (meaningless)
x Treatment 1 Treatment 2 Control
1 21 3 9
2 23 4 5
3 23 2 8
4 24 1 7
5 19 1 5

While hosting is in theory unlimited, please don't upload gigabytes of data without asking first.

Data processing[edit]

Wikidata contains a large and rapidly-growing amount of structured data, and an excellent query service. A query can product a list of all metals with a melting point between 365 and 380 Celsius, or a list of composers who contemporaneously lived in the same city as one of the Bach family's spouses.

Code can also be posted on wikis. Editors are encouraged to upload scripts used to generate images and other data. Syntax is highlighted by placing the code between <syntaxhighlight lang="[language-specific label]">...</syntaxhighlight> tags. Example:

import random
greetings = ['Hello', 'Hi', 'Greetings, earthling'] #This list should be extended
print (random.choice(greetings) + " world")

Data visualization[edit]

Images created with external tools can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. However, there are also some wiki-native tools. There are simple tools to generate some simple graph types. More sophisticated Wikidata tools can be used to make much more complex interactive visualizations (examples).

Writing up and publishing[edit]

Compiling sources[edit]

Citations on Mediawiki mostly do not need to be added or formatted by hand. Mediawiki has many citation auto-complete tools, which can be used to automatically generate a full citation template from partial information (such as a DOI or URL).

Mediawiki has good integration with many bibliographic management tools (for instance, drag-and-drop interaction with Zotero). Citations can thus be imported to, and exported from, the Mediawiki citation format (citations are usually stored in Mediawiki citation templates, a structured bibliographic-database-like format, but they can also be written as plain text).

There are two ways to edit (and citation tools for both). If you generally write using a WYSIWYG word processor, such as Microsoft Word, you may be more comfortable with the new VisualEditor. If you prefer a WYSIWYM editor such as LaTeX, or know html markup, you may prefer to use wiki markup. Click the "Edit" tab, top right; if you are not logged in to an account, a popup will offer the choice. If you have logged in, you can set your editing mode at Special:Preferences.

Writing up[edit]

Collaborative scholarly writing is what Mediawiki software was fundamentally designed to do. Multiple editors edit one online document, hosted and backed up on servers around the world. Each author's contribution is documented, edit by edit, in the page history. The editing interface is localized to a large number of languages.

If you are writing up original research, or your own synthesis of the research literature, the place to do it is Wikiversity. To start a write-up, type the title of your piece (for example, "Draft:Example article name") into the search bar (your draft can be moved later, if you decide to change the title). Unless someone else has already used that title, the search result will begin with the words "Create the page "Draft:Example article name" on this wiki!". Clicking on the red link in the search results will take you directly to the new page. Once you type something and hit save, your draft will be available at " article name", and editable through the edit tab on the same page. This link can be shared with collaborators. Example: Draft:Paleontology, a teaching resource.

It's generally a good idea to save your work frequently, as you can always use the "View history" tab to track your changes and automatically revert to an earlier version. By default, other people can edit your article; for instance, someone might spontaneously correct your typos (don't panic; such changes are easily reverted if undesirable). Wikiversity is a community, not just a file-hosting platform.

In the unlikely event you have problems with other editors, you can talk to them, and ask for advice at the Wikiversity Colloquium. Wikimedia has strong social norms and rules requiring civil and collaborative behaviour; as a rule, it's safe to assume that everyone here wants to help the wiki. For the exceptions, Mediawiki has very strong anti-vandalism protections (if it didn't, Wikipedia would be unusable). Editing rights on a page can be tightly restricted. It's just usually not necessary.

Preprint and peer-reviewed publication (free)[edit]

Some conventional publishers (including PLOS) use Mediawiki software to run an internal wiki, and translate anything submitted to them into Mediawiki format. If you may not submit in Mediawiki format, Pandoc and other sharealike software conversion tools deal well with Wikipedia markup.

Several academic journals now provide a dual-publishing model where suitable academic review articles are published as a stable, indexed version of record, and also copied as a Wikipedia page.[2] These generate a citeable version of the article for the author as well as providing peer-reviewed content for the encyclopedia.

Examples include:

There are also the WikiJournals, hosted by Wikimedia on the Wikiversity wiki. They have open peer-review and are diamond/platinum open-access, meaning no fees are charged by anyone. The peer reviewers are volunteers, and the costs paid by the Wikimedia Foundation, the same charity that funds Wikipedia. Articles can be submitted to via the WikiJournal Preprints submission form. Wikipedia articles can be submitted to WikiJournals via Wikipedia:WikiJournal article nominations.


All appropriately-licensed or public domain publications can be archived on Wikisource after being published elsewhere.

Publication of supplementary media: text, images, sound, and video[edit]

Appropriately-licensed photos, diagrams, videos, sound files, and some 3D models can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, regardless of whether they have previously been published elsewhere (and can then be used to illustrate Wikipedia articles). Images and sounds that are useful, but would otherwise never be published, can be published on Commons.

Communication; talks, posters, and scholarly societies[edit]

Posters, slideshows, and other presentations can be uploaded to a Wikimedia wiki and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection; others can be given a copy of the presentation by giving them the URL. Posters are best uploaded in SVG format to Wikimedia Commons, but PDF format is also acceptable. Slideshows can similarly be uploaded in PDF form.

It is also possible to run a scholarly society on Wikiversity; see HGAPS for an example.


Mediawiki software is designed for web accessibility; many volunteer editors need this functionality, so it should be maintained indefinitely.

Course materials[edit]

Educators find, write, and post course material on Wikiversity. For examples, see User:Dave Braunschweig or User:Jtneill/Teaching.

Quizzes are easily made on Wikiversity. As the answers are public, these cannot be used for grading, but only as a self-check of comprehension. Quizzes may be multiple-choice (one or more answers correct), or have a typed text or numeric answer (simple quiz example).


You can pick a textbook off this listing of Wikibooks by department, and modify or extend it as needed to suit your course. You can also write and publish your own textbook on Wikibooks. The Wikimedia Foundation and its affiliates give grants for improving Wikimedia content.

Wikibook copies weigh nothing, which is convenient for course textbooks. They also cost students nothing, making your course more affordable (proprietary e-textbooks cost more than used paper textbooks, as they cannot be re-sold[7]).

Wikibooks can be searched, and quickly corrected and updated. If you want an entirely stable text for the sake of setting required readings, you can host your own modified version, or you can, more simply, assign any version you like as the course textbook, as all past versions are archived online. Generally, though, mature textbooks are quite stable; there is no publisher incentive to rearrange the text needlessly.


Public education and outreach can be done through Wikipedia; see Help:Wikipedia editing for researchers, scholars, and academics for a starting point. This is also a way to get used to the technical details of editing; modifying a few Wikipedia articles that others have written may be an easier introduction than writing your own content from scratch.

Wikimedia has programs in place that disseminate Wikimedia content to areas that are offline, improving the worldwide accessibility of education.

Offline access[edit]

5-minute documentary on medics using Internet-in-a-Box in the Dominican Republic
The University of Ngaoundéré has a slow, expensive satellite connection, but also has Afripedia: a local-network copy of Wikimedia content, regularly updated by mailing flash memory drives.

Content from Wikimedia wikis can be accessed without internet connectivity, which is particularly useful for field work. It is possible to download Wikimedia content to a personal computer or smartphone; Wikimedia markup is fairly compact, and has a dedicated compression format. For sharable information, Internet-in-a-Box is an inexpensive updatable local server for Wikimedia wikis ($30-$40 US preinstalled hardware; software and updates free).[8]

As of 2019, offline access is read-only, but work is being done on asynchronous wikis.

See also[edit]


  1. Keulemans, Maarten (4 September 2018). "11 EU-landen besluiten: vanaf 2020 moet alle wetenschappelijke literatuur gratis beschikbaar zijn". De Volkskrank (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 September 2018. 'Als je vindt dat informatie gratis moet zijn: ga naar Wikipedia.'
  2. Shafee, Thomas (2017-11-24). "Wikipedia-integrated publishing: a comparison of successful models". Health Inform 26 (2). doi:10.13140/rg.2.2.27470.77129. 
  3. Wodak, Shoshana J.; Mietchen, Daniel; Collings, Andrew M.; Russell, Robert B.; Bourne, Philip E. (2012-03-29). "Topic Pages: PLoS Computational Biology Meets Wikipedia". PLOS Computational Biology 8 (3): e1002446. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002446. PMID 22479174. 
  4. Luk, Ann (2017-04-12). "Continuing to Bridge the Journal-Wikipedia Gap: Introducing Topic Pages for PLOS Genetics". PLOS Biologue. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  5. Tsueng, Ginger; Good, Benjamin M.; Ping, Peipei; Golemis, Erica; Hanukoglu, Israel; Wijnen, Andre J. van; Su, Andrew I. (2016-11-05). "Gene Wiki Reviews—Raising the quality and accessibility of information about the human genome". Gene 592 (2): 235–238. doi:10.1016/j.gene.2016.04.053. 
  6. Butler, Declan (2008-12-16). "Publish in Wikipedia or perish". Nature News. doi:10.1038/news.2008.1312. 
  7. Byron W. Brown (25 March 2016). "The Faux Value of E-Textbooks". New York Times.
  8. Meta:Internet-in-a-Box/Buy