Academic Opinions of Wikipedia


The Digital Rhetoric Collaborative is continuing to celebrate our efforts to build a digital rhetoric wiki and 20 years of wiki with another Wiki Wednesday post. Today, we’re looking at research into academic interactions with the world-famous Wikipedia, the web’s crowd-sourced encyclopedia launched in January 2001.

The Wikimedia Foundation‘s April 2014 Research Newsletter reported recent research performed by Lu Xiao and Nicole Askin. The two researchers surveyed 120 academics across disciplines in late 2011 and early 2012 about their attitudes toward Wikipedia and open-access academic publishing. The researchers presented their study findings in “Academic Opinions of Wikipedia and Open-Access Publishing” in Online Information Review 38.3.

Wikimedia Newsletter

The authors reported such findings about Wikipedia interactions from their survey respondents as:

  • 77 percent reported reading Wikipedia “both for pleasure and for academic use”
  • 43 percent reported having at least made an entry edit
  • 15 percent reported having written an article

Emerald Insight Online Information Review Journal

The authors also reported the following survey results:

  • 13 respondents reported having cited Wikipedia articles in peer-reviewed papers
  • 54 percent of respondents reported being aware that Wikipedia had a peer-review process
  • 4 respondents reported receiving credit for time spent reviewing Wikipedia articles related to their academic careers

Xiao and Askin further found correlations between open-access publishing and Wikipedia experience, stating that “the researchers’ experiences with open-access journals are correlated with their Wikipedia experiences, e.g. those who have not had any open-access journal experiences are more likely to have not had any Wikipedia experience.”

After reviewing this research, we’re wondering: Have you ever edited or written a Wikipedia article? Ever cited a Wikipedia article? How do you feel about academic use and contribution to Wikipedia?

Works Cited

Xiao, Lu and Nicole Askin. “Academic Opinions of  Wikipedia and Open-Access Publishing.” Online Information Review 38.3  (2014). Web. 7 May 2014.


  • Brenta Blevins

    A Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative fellow in 2013-14 and 2014-15, Brenta Blevins is an Assistant Professor of Writing Studies and Digital Studies at the University of Mary Washington. She completed her PhD in digital rhetoric and composition at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where her dissertation examined the rhetoric and literacy of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. She previously worked in the software development industry. Her current research interests include Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, digital literacy and digital pedagogy, and multiliteracy/multimodality.

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