Putting Wikipedia to the Test: A Case Study

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Putting Wikipedia to the Test: A Case Study is a 2008 conference paper written in English by Michael P. Pender, Kaye E. Lasserre, Lisa M. Kruesi, Christopher Del Mar, Satyamurthy Anuradha and published in The Special Libraries Association Annual Conference.

[edit] Abstract

BACKGROUND: As guiding students’ use of clinical information resources is an important role of the medical program, we wondered how well Wikipedia, given its popularity with students, compared with long-standing resources.

METHODS: Blinded to the information resources, medical academics compared conjunctivitis, multiple sclerosis and otitis media entries from Wikipedia against those from AccessMedicine, eMedicine and UpToDate, using a scale developed to rank their accuracy, coverage, concision, currency and suitability for medical students. Medical librarians assessed their accessibility and usability.

RESULTS: The entries in Wikipedia, in comparison with the other resources, were easy to access, navigate and well presented. Although reasonably concise and current, they failed to cover key aspects of two of the topics, and contained some factual errors. Wikipedia was thus judged unsuitable for medical students. AccessMedicine entries were judged the most suitable resources for medical students by two of the reviewers; the third was critical of the lack of emphasis on empirical data.

CONCLUSIONS: Wikipedia was found currently unsuitable for medical students in isolation from other medical information resources. Traditional information resources would be improved by having in-text referencing to strengthen the link to evidence. Perhaps experts should contribute more to Wikipedia to ensure it provides best information.

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