Wikiversity is concerned with both the known and the yet to be discovered. An appreciation for the fluid boundary between the known and the unknown is one of the most important cultural artifacts that must be passed from generation to generation.
Education depends on knowing what already exists within the human store house of knowledge and making critical assessments about how to prioritize the presentation of that knowledge for learners. Exploring and categorizing existing knowledge can be called "secondary research". The distinction between primary and secondary research is analogous to the distinction between the published primary and secondary research literature. Primary research articles report the results of original research. The secondary literature includes articles that review and provide perspective on primary research articles.
Developing good secondary research skills (literature review) is an important skill for all Wikiversity students. Many Wikiversity "service projects" are concerned with secondary research and finding quality verifiable sources that can be cited in Wikipedia articles and Wikibooks textbook modules. A fundamental pattern of activity for Wikiversity participants is searching for information related to a specific topic, recording the results of that search in wiki pages and subjecting the results of such secondary research to critical evaluation by peers within the Wikiversity community.
Secondary research can be distinguished from primary research in that the latter is concerned with the discovery of new knowledge rather than the assessment of existing knowledge. However, the boundary between secondary and primary research is not well-defined. Good secondary research can often lead to new ways of looking at things and the creation of new knowledge. Primary research depends on secondary research. We risk wasting time recreating the wheel if we engage in primary research without being aware of past efforts.
Wikiversity aims to provide server space for a "virtual research commons", a place where on-going research projects from all over the world can be put on display and shared with students. Wikiversity is a hub for collaborations between researchers in the physical world and learners in online learning environments.
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