Collaboration with Wikipedia

Posted on by Emily Temple-Wood


For the past four months, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been doing something new and exciting for a government agency: they have been employing a Wikipedian-in-Residence. This collaboration with Wikipedia makes NIOSH only the second federal agency, and the first federal scientific agency, to engage with the encyclopedia project in this fashion; it is a collaboration that has the potential to spark many more. Wikipedia, the fifth-biggest website in the world, reaches far more members of the public each day than NIOSH ever could; lending NIOSH’s resources to the enormous encyclopedia gives us the opportunity to disseminate occupational safety and health information to a far greater group of people than NIOSH could alone.

As Wikipedian-in-Residence, I am focusing primarily on directly improving Wikimedia content using the vast resources available at NIOSH.  NIOSH has a wide body of research and experts available to it, and the organization regularly produces high-quality content of the type that is ideal for improving under-developed areas of Wikipedia. Some of the NIOSH resources I’ve been able to use during this period include Cochrane reviews conducted by NIOSH researchers or associated groups, a variety of literature reviews, and epidemiological research and chemical data, just to name a few. Right now, we are in the process of updating the English Wikipedia with United States-based chemical safety data, including recommended and permissible exposure limits, but don’t worry: we will soon be expanding our collaboration to use data from OSH agencies around the world!

Images from NIOSH’s collection, covering a wide variety of occupational safety and health topics, are already available at Category: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on Wikimedia Commons, a free image repository. We will be continuing to add to the collection there during my remaining time in this position.

In addition to expanding current English Wikipedia articles, I have also been creating new articles in my time with NIOSH. My first two creations, covering the previously unrecognized occupational lung diseases indium lung and flock worker’s lung, appeared on the “Did You Know” section of the project’s Main Page. NIOSH was deeply involved in discovering and characterizing both of these diseases, and their resources were instrumental in my being able to write encyclopedia articles about them.

Resources like NIOSH’s make a real difference to our ability to cover these topics; although articles on occupational safety and health are quite heavily viewed by the English Wikipedia’s readers, there are nevertheless no Featured Articles or Good Articles in the topic area as far as I know. When a recent paper specifically mentioned Wikipedia’s article on occupational lung disease as needing serious work I was able to use my access to high-quality NIOSH resources to fill that need. Though still very much a work in progress (collaborators welcome!) it is now a fairly comprehensive overview of occupational lung diseases and pathogenic agents.

Dr. John Howard, director of NIOSH, said “The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is pleased to partner with Wikipedia to extend our reach in communicating our research findings and recommendations to the vast audience of Wikipedia readers. It is incumbent upon us, as the agency designated by law to lead national research for preventing work-related injury, illness, and death, to share our rich information with as many people as we can so they can make informed opinions about their workplace health and safety. Wikipedia provides a trusted, popular resource to do so in today’s national, indeed global, virtual community.” NIOSH is committed to sharing excellent occupational health information with the world and has a mission very much aligned with Wikipedia. As Wikipedian-in-Residence I am excited to be participating in a collaboration that lets me work simultaneously on two things I love: building Wikipedia’s articles and the improving the public’s access to reliable medical information!

For more information about the Wikipedian-in-Residence program click here.


Emily Temple-Wood, Wikipedian-in-Residence

Posted on by Emily Temple-Wood

11 comments on “Collaboration with Wikipedia”

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    Hi there,I enjoy reading through your article post, I wanted to write a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation All the best for all your blogging efforts.

    This, as many companies large enough to have Wikipedia pages rejoice that there hasn’t been a Wikipedian-in-charge appointed for OSHA to update company Wiki pages with violations, deaths on the job, and SVEP status.

    Great news! I had already noticed that in scientific oriented areas such as pharmaceutical compounds, physics, etc that wikipedia was very accurate and more often had more information with valid references and links provided. Also an MIT professor said that using wikipedia for scientific reference material in term papers was not only ok but recommended because of its accuracy in hard scientific related entries. What a surprise to me! Now I have one proof – this announcement – that he was correct. Thanks. I will definitely be passing this information along!

    It is an excellent idea sharing the relevant and vast occupational health and safety information from NIOSH with Wikipedia readers, making it easily available to an exceptionally large number of workers and professionals committed to disseminate all this enormous body of technical and scientific knowledge. It is a real proof of progress! Congratulations!

    I found few errors on wikipedia while searching for scientific research materials. Health and safety related information described in wikipedia source are excellent.

    There are few errors on Wikipedia while searching for scientific research, however there is an entire hierarchy of profile that authorize posts which prevents creditable users from auditing the website. The Wikipedia website in my opinion is driven by self interest. Wikipedia has turned very controversial for some which doesn’t allow creditable sources from changing their own data.

    Excellent post! It’s my pleasure to find this article on time.
    Thanks for sharing the idea. Keep writing.

    Thanks your important article.Now a days wikipedia is a big knowledge source.There are get many research article.
    Also get educational information.

    Hi Emily,
    Great job!
    Such informative research can only make the world a better place. The collaboration effort you’ve described is a perfect example of ‘Two becoming stronger as One’. If more companies in Science and Technology did this, imagine how much progress we would make in society.

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Page last reviewed: September 17, 2015
Page last updated: September 17, 2015