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J Biol Rhythms. 2012 Aug;27(4):333-6. doi: 10.1177/0748730412449578.

Learning chronobiology by improving Wikipedia.

Abstract

Although chronobiology is of growing interest to scientists, physicians, and the general public, access to recent discoveries and historical perspectives is limited. Wikipedia is an online, user-written encyclopedia that could enhance public access to current understanding in chronobiology. However, Wikipedia is lacking important information and is not universally trusted. Here, 46 students in a university course edited Wikipedia to enhance public access to important discoveries in chronobiology. Students worked for an average of 9 h each to evaluate the primary literature and available Wikipedia information, nominated sites for editing, and, after voting, edited the 15 Wikipedia pages they determined to be highest priorities. This assignment (http://www.nslc.wustl.edu/courses/Bio4030/wikipedia_project.html) was easy to implement, required relatively short time commitments from the professor and students, and had measurable impacts on Wikipedia and the students. Students created 3 new Wikipedia sites, edited 12 additional sites, and cited 347 peer-reviewed articles. The targeted sites all became top hits in online search engines. Because their writing was and will be read by a worldwide audience, students found the experience rewarding. Students reported significantly increased comfort with reading, critiquing, and summarizing primary literature and benefited from seeing their work edited by other scientists and editors of Wikipedia. We conclude that, in a short project, students can assist in making chronobiology widely accessible and learn from the editorial process.

PMID:
22855578
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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