Wikiversity:Verifiability

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Much of the information on Wikiversity is derived from published sources. Some of the information on Wikiversity has been produced by scholarly research performed at Wikiversity. Sources of information should be cited in order to allow others to find the sources and judge their reliability. If a cited source can be checked, the information is verifiable. Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments can be included at Wikiversity if verifiable sources are cited. Information on Wikiversity pages that is not supported by verifiable sources can be challenged and removed to talk pages for discussion.

The threshold for inclusion of information on Wikiversity pages is verifiability, not truth. Verifiable in this context means that any reader must be able to check that material added to Wikiversity pages has either:

  1. already been published by a reliable source; or
  2. has been produced by scholarly research performed at Wikiversity.

Wikiversity:Verifiability is one of Wikiversity's main content-guiding policies. Another is Wikiversity:Reliable sources. These policies should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should therefore try to familiarize themselves with both. The obligation to use verifiable and reliable sources lies with the editors wishing to include information on Wikiversity page, not on those seeking to question it or remove it.

Verifiability, not truth[edit]

"Verifiability" in this context does not mean that editors are expected to verify whether, for example, the contents of a reliable journal article are true. A good way to look at the distinction between verifiability and truth is with the following example. Suppose you are learning about a famous physicist's Theory X, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals and is therefore appropriate content for study at Wikiversity. However, if you happen to know the physicist and he tells you, "Actually, I now believe Theory X to be completely false," it has been claimed (see the history of this page) that "you cannot include the fact that he said it in a Wikiversity page. Why not? Because what he said to you is not verifiable by other Wikiversity editors."

It is routine in peer-reviewed publications that alleged fact is cited to "conversations with So-and-so." The fact reported is the conversation, not truth. And the author of the paper is the witness. Hence such alleged facts require attribution, not only to the alleged source (the physicist above) but also to the witness.

It is not generally true that "private conversation" is unverifiable. One may write to the "famous physicist" and ask, if he or she is still alive. Otherwise, the basic common-law principle is that testimony is presumed true unless controverted. Wikiversity allows original research, and this is an aspect of it. Original research must be, and certainly if challenged, attributed to the researcher. While page history will show who added original research, this should be explicit in the text or context. On top-level mainspace pages, these rules may be relatively strict. In subpages, subpages may be, in toto, attributed to author or other user, in which case they should normally not be edited by others without permission.

See also[edit]