Tag: Editathon

set in stone

Slide01Two weeks ago I presented the story of our Women in Science and Scottish History editathon at the Wikipedia Science conference in London at the Wellcome Trust*.

This week Surgeon’s Hall unveiled a plaque to commemorate the Edinburgh Seven and the Surgeon’s Hall riot. I am very pleased to be able to draw a direct line from the fun we had  on the web at our wikipedia editahon to the fixing of a permanent plaque. it’s nice when the physical and the virtual keep up with each other.

The Wikipedia Science conference was a good place to discuss the contribution of women to the telling of science stories and disseminating research. Peter Murray-Rust described Wikipedia as our greatest achievement in the 21st Century. I reminded the audience that less that 15% of the people who edit Wikipedia are women and we discussed whether or not this was a problem.  One delegate suggested that women aren’t interested in facts and another that women have ‘other’ things to do. We wondered how Wikipedia would be different, and Wikipedia science would be different, if more women contributed. We wondered what might be done to find out.

Slide02The Edinburgh Seven had a tough time when they tried to break into the male world of university medicine, but they were working within historical, established structures. Surely Wikipedia is designed from the start to be more open, more democratic, more participatory? Wikipedia is only 15 years old. It seems like it is work worth doing to try to recruit more editors and a good place to start would be amongst information professionals and women in tech.

It seems to me that the kinds of initiative we may need to get more women using wikipedia for science, are very much in the same vein as those more generally for women in STEM workplaces. We need women to want to join, and want to stay.

The presentation I gave described the research I am involved in with the Open University to identify the workplace learning outcomes for university staff and students in developing digital skills, information literacy skills and understanding of copyright in an open knowledge environment.  The research team have surveyed and interviewed.  Interviewees describe rich learning experiences, learning a range of skills and knowledge, for example:

  • technical knowledge (how to create a Wikipedia page, how to edit, how to cite other sources etc),
  • factual knowledge around the topic (names, dates, locations of historical events),
  • relational knowledge (how to interact with archivists and materials, how and where to source information, how to plan work with others),
  • socio-cultural knowledge (how to operate within a network of people with a common purpose).

Slide08Which all seem like good skills worth investing in. I am particularly interested in how editathons, if run well, can develop not just tech knowledge but also workplace cultural capital and networks. These are the things women need in STEM workplaces.

Watch this space for further research results, and for the next Edinburgh editathon.

The hashtag for the conference was #wikisci . I recommend the conference as a top value for money event. Less than 30 quid for access to the most up to date thinking in wikiscience.


*great venue


learn to edit Wikipedia and change the way the stories are told

Rosie the Editor
Rosie the Editor

All welcome.

Join us at our women in science Wikipedia Editathon  each afternoon 16-19th Feb

Have you ever wondered why the information in Wikipedia is extensive for some topics and scarce for others?

Did you know that the Edinburgh Seven were the first women to matriculate to study medicine in HE in the UK? Do you know when? Do you know their names and the things they went on to do? Do you know about the Surgeons Hall riot?

Did you know that of the 300,000 people who make regular edits to Wikipedia only 13% are women?

It seems like there is work to be done to enrich the quality and quantity of articles which might inspire people to know more about the history of women in science, particularly in Edinburgh where we have such cracking stories to be told.

During  Innovative Learning Week, the University’s Information Services team  are running a series of four Wikipedia ‘editathons‘ with the support of the School of Literature, Languages and Cultures, the Moray House School of Education, EDINA, and the National Library of Scotland. We will  focus on improving the quality of articles about women in Scottish science history. Working together with archivists, academic colleagues and Wikimedia experts, we will train you how to edit and add information to Wikipedia. It really is very easy.

We will explore how writing Wikipedia articles develops digital literacy and academic writing skills. You will be supported to develop articles covering women in science, Scottish women in history, Edinburgh as the birth place of medicine, the Edinburgh Seven, University history, distinguished Edinburgh alumni etc. We will bring out content from the University archives which has never been mentioned on the Web before and you can bring your research, your knowledge, your search skills, your writing skills.

This series of events will run over a series of afternoons with focused topics. You can attend just once or on multiple days, and can select topics that interest you and which need development on Wikipedia. Training, technical support and subject area advice will be provided throughout. One day we will focus on editing biographies and people pages, another day  buildings, places and linking to maps, another day on adding images, but you can work on any of those as we go along.

Each workshop is open to all: campus-based students, distance learning students, alumni, all staff and members of the public.

Once you have learned to edit  you will want to do it again and again. Trust me.

As a starting place we have selected people, mostly women, who are significant to the University, medicine and science, past and present, and will bring interesting source materials that will support article development. You are welcome to bring your own topic and source materials. We will be working to improve and extend the articles about:

  • Mary Anderson (Edinburgh 7)
  • Charlotte Auerbach
  • James Miranda Steuart Barry (aka Margaret Ann Bulkley)
  • Emily Bovell (Edinburgh 7)
  • Matilda Chaplin (Edinburgh 7)
  • Sir Robert Christison (opponent of the university education of women)
  • Mary Crudelius (campaigner for women’s education)
  • Helen Evans (Edinburgh 7)
  • Elsie Inglis (maternity health)
  • Sophia Jex-Blake (Edinburgh 7)
  • Eve Johnstone (Psychiatry)
  • Judith MacKay (tobacco control)
  • David Masson (supporter of the university education of women)
  • Noreen Murray (molecular geneticist – as in Ken and Noreen Murray Library)
  • Edith Pechey (Edinburgh 7)
  • Elsie Stephenson (nursing)
  • Isabel Thorne (Edinburgh 7)