Academics caught trying to make up for not being very big (in their field)

Science says having a large Wikipedia article is an attempt to compensate for having a smaller than average ‘impact’.

Wikipedia is famously a reliable source for information on nearly everything, but apparently not for scientific reputation, or at least so says a new report released last week.

According to research published by Anna Samoilenko and Taha Yasseri, whether or not an academic has a Wikipedia page says very little about the actual quality of their work, and could even indicate a lower quality.

Surely you wouldn’t lie to me, after all these years?

In the study, over 400 biographical Wikipedia articles on academics, including fields as varied as physics, psychiatry and biology, were compared with each of the academic’s h-index, which is a measure of academic productivity and impact.

The comparison proved what we all expected: academics who make the most noise are actually making up for not being that big where it counts. 

Another common symptom of feeling inadequate

In addition, closer examination also revealed that less than half of the four fields’ most significant researchers had their own pages on the website.

All in all, it was shown that Wikipedia fails to cover the most notable scientists but offers lots of information on the ones that aren’t even that important.

It seems as though being featured in the world’s largest online encyclopedia really has no meaning for an academic.

I wonder who could be editing the articles then?

The results are clear:

If you’re worrying about it, then yes. Their impact is below average.