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Wikiversity Policies
Research

Research Guidelines
Scope of Research
Review Board

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Wikiversity participants are encouraged to engage in scholarly original research activities that support the educational mission of Wikiversity. The scope of research at Wikiversity is limited to research activities that promote learning in the spirit of the Wikimedia Foundation's goals. In order to promote high quality research, the Wikiversity research guidelines emphasize two main issues: verifiability and ethics. Original research at Wikiversity is subjected to peer review in order to allow the Wikiversity research community to strive for verifiability. Wikiversity participants who engage in research are required to adhere to high standards of scholarly research ethics.

All research activities must be transparent and conducted so that research methods can be subjected to peer review and independent verification by others. Research activities at Wikiversity include scholarly secondary research (literature review) and any other aspects of original research suitable for a wiki community, including coordination of primary research (e.g. empirical experimentation and field observation) and studies of the dynamics of wiki communities themselves. Unlike other Wikimedia Foundation projects, Wikiversity research projects are not required to adhere to the conventional neutral point of view policy. Wikiversity research practices are expected to be built on citation of reliable sources, honesty and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Wikiversity research projects should be reviewed by the Wikiversity community to help identify and address poor research practices and to help identify and implement exemplary research practices. A Review Board has been proposed to better guide the Wikiversity community in reviewing research projects. A Review Board would consist of experts who, with their expertise in specific subject areas of research, could point out problems that the Wikiversity community might otherwise miss.

Some goals of research on Wikiversity are to help people learn about the practice of doing good research, and to support research communities, collaborations and discussions. Eventually, it may become possible for the Wikiversity research community to facilitate publishing of peer-reviewed research reports that would be recognized as a reliable source, able to be cited in sister projects such as Wikipedia and Wikibooks.

Scope of research[edit]

See the policy page for research scope

Wikiversity participants engage in a wide range of scholarly original research activities. Scholarly assessment of existing knowledge (sometimes called "secondary research", or "literature review") is an integral part of many Wikiversity educational activities. Critical thinking in research - even in a review of the literature - can lead to original research results. Wikiversity promotes and nurtures all such research that falls within its scope.

Research and neutral point of view[edit]

In order to support academic freedom, Wikiversity allows participants to move outside of the confines of the traditional Wikimedia Foundation Neutral point of view (NPOV) policy. This allows scholars to intensively explore limited points of view, even if they are outside of the conventional streams of academic scholarship, as long as biases are disclosed and high standards of scholarship are adhered to.

Scope of original research[edit]

Original research is conducted for many reasons, not all of which are compatible with the mission and format of the Wikiversity project. The following are examples of research activities that are beyond the educational mission and capabilities of Wikiversity:

  • research that violates Wikimedia Foundation policy such as the privacy policy
  • research that is illegal or unethical
  • research that would normally be formally reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (exceptions: if a research project that includes research activities conducted within a Wikiversity website was first reviewed and approved by an existing IRB of a bricks-and-mortar research institution and if the project was openly conducted according to the IRB-approved protocol)

Verifiability[edit]

All original research projects on Wikiversity must be conducted in an open and transparent fashion so as to facilitate independent and objective verification of methods and results by others. All research projects must fully document the methods, original motivations (see disclosures), and hypotheses. Research in progress must be clearly labeled as such with the appropriate templates. The research templates will place research-related webpages in the "Research" category.

Honesty[edit]

Research results are never altered, modified, misrepresented, omitted from reporting or falsified in order to artificially fit a predetermined belief, desired result or proposed hypothesis.

Transparency[edit]

It should be clear from the report on the research: 1) What was done in the course of all stages of the research (and why), and 2) how claims are made on the basis of the data (and why). This ensures that other people can look at the research, and decide for themselves whether it is a good or useful piece of research. It is not necessary that the full dataset used is publicly available - though it is a good idea - and if this is undesirable (for ethical reasons, for example), it could be made available to individuals, upon their request.

Objectivity[edit]

Wikiversity participants who participate in research activities should strive to conduct and report their research in such a way that it is possible for others to independently test, verify and confirm that research.

All original research projects at Wikiversity should be conducted with the goal of producing objectively verifiable results. Researchers should always respect the outcome of their data analysis, and certainly not manipulate the data to fit a predetermined result. If a hypothesis is proposed, the results/data should be used to prove or disprove it. One should not conduct research to prove oneself right, nor someone else wrong - on the contrary, one should always strive to be critical of all aspects of the research process, including oneself.

Subjectivity[edit]

Personal and subjective points of view and opinions can play an important, and even central part in research, but they should be identified as such, and integrated as much as possible with the existing ideas of others by citing published sources that support or suggest your lines of reasoning and path of intellectual exploration. You are free to express your views and opinions so long as you relate them in a scholarly way to your primary data and/or secondary sources.

Neutral point of view[edit]

Within Wikiversity, the default approach to conducting research is that all research projects are open to participation by any member of the community and all associated wiki webpages are open to editing according to conventional Wikimedia Foundation neutral point of view (NPOV) policy. However, since some advances in knowledge and understanding involve exploration of novel ideas that lie outside of conventional patterns of existing knowledge, belief and thought, Wikiversity does allow researchers to explore various points of view as long as the highest principles of scholarly ethics are adhered to. Unless you explicitly request otherwise, other people can edit your project, and NPOV policy applies.

Wikiversity is a wiki and, in general, anybody can edit the webpages of a research project. Others may offer alternative analyses of your results, which may contradict your conclusions. This is to be encouraged, and Wikiversity supports research that is open to be edited by all. If you do decide to limit editing of wiki pages to a select group, expect that others will make copies of your work and edit those copies in complliance with the neutral point of view (NPOV) policy. If you edit Wikiversity webpages outside of the restrictions of NPOV policy, you should expect your work to be subjected to peer review. If your methods depart from the scholarly practices outlined by Wikiversity research guidelines, you may be asked to either adapt your materials/methods - or your materials may be removed from Wikiversity. If you repeatedly ignore the sound advice of your peers, and there is general consensus for this, you may be disqualified from participating in scholarly studies or any activities at Wikiversity.

Disclosures[edit]

If you wish to conduct research activities outside of NPOV and/or with restrictions on who can edit your work, you must openly declare your biases, potential conflicts of interest, and be very open about the objectives of your research. Declaring your personal biases will help people understand your viewpoint and trust you. Working outside of the restrictions of NPOV policy imposes on you the highest standards of scholarly ethics and means your research methods and practices will be subjected to critical evaluation and peer review.

Declare your known biases or any potential conflicts of interest at the start of your research project. This fosters trust, and helps the community to judge the study from your point of view. This will join you in a group effort to raise conscientiousness and group-assisted introspection.

Citing sources[edit]

No research activities are excused from the need to be aware of existing relevant knowledge and past published research results. Carefully cite relevant sources wherever possible, in both secondary research (literature reviews) and as an integral part of the conduct and reporting of any original research activities.

It is not always possible to justify and contextualize original research using previously published sources, especially when the topic has not been examined in depth before. Wikiversity is open to scholarly research that tries to stretch the boundaries of knowledge. Where possible, you should cite relevant sources of previously published research in your field of study that most closely relate to any new paths of exploration you may be involved with. Secondary research should always be based on verifiable sources, and should always cite all the sources used in your research.

Ethics[edit]

  • All research projects on Wikiversity should be conducted according to high standards of scholarly ethics
  • A project that breaks or tests conventional ethical guidelines is not permitted
  • A project that would require oversight by an expert in research ethics or IRB is not permitted
  • A project that includes an undisclosed conflict of interest is not permitted. For example, "marketing" or political research for promoting a specific commercial product or political candidate must be disclosed as such
  • Wikiversity's Review Board is responsible for examining the conduct and methods of all research projects

All research posted on Wikiversity should be conducted in an ethical manner. Wikiversity cannot permit studies that involve such ethical issues as harm (including distress or embarrassment), deception or risk to either human subjects or animals. No studies may be posted that involve a breach in local or international law.

Research projects that would normally require approval from an institutional review board (IRB) cannot be permitted on Wikiversity. However, if an established IRB approves your research, the Wikiversity Review Board may permit it.

Wikiversity is devoted to a search for knowledge and providing a support system to help people learn about the world. Wikiversity promotes adherence to scholarly ethics that keep Wikiversity free from propaganda, deception and intellectual dishonesty such as plagiarism. Wikiversity does not exist as a platform to support advocates of particular political movements, religious ideologies or scientific, legal or historical theories. Wikiversity can contain scholarly study of all topics, but Wikiversity does not exist for the purpose of advocating or advancing particular points of view, movements or belief systems.

Wikiversity participants who engage in research activities must not attempt to use Wikiversity as a platform for advocating or advancing propaganda or any other type of deception or intellectual dishonesty, but rather, Wikiversity editors must remain devoted to scholarly consideration of their topic of study. This means not distorting or hiding evidence and not crafting illegal, deceptive, dishonest or otherwise unethical accounts of facts or ideas. Wikiversity scholars can, and must, study their subjects with devotion to honesty and the highest scholarly standards.

Wikiversity standards for scholarly and ethical research practices are enforced by peer review. Most of this peer review is possible through conventional wiki community interactions and webpage editing. However, some forms of bogus and unethical research can only be recognized by experts. In order to protect itself from such problems, the Wikiversity community depends on the participation of experts who can guide the whole community in recognizing bogus and unethical research practices, as discussed in the next section.

Review process[edit]

Wikiversity's review process of research is distributed and community-led, taking the following steps:

  1. People add research to Wikiversity - they are encouraged to flag it appropriately as "research".
  2. If not done already, research is flagged with a template placed at the top of the page.
  3. If anyone reviewing (i.e. simply reading) the page finds something within the research to be questionable on methodological, ethical, epistemological grounds, they can add an appropriate template - or modify the existing one.
  4. The page(s) in question can be flagged for deletion - or a request for comments can be made
  5. After discussion and review, the research can be either modified, deleted, or sent for further review by the Review Board (details below).

Review Board[edit]

See the full Review Board policy

Some misguided and deceptive research practices may be difficult to detect. The Wikiversity community relies on the participation of people with expertise in good research practices and who can help the community recognize and correct bogus and unethical research practices. The Review Board will be active in guiding the entire Wikiversity community in examination of all Wikiversity research projects and identifying and correcting any problems that breach the Wikiversity research guidelines.

Peer review from external entities[edit]

It is possible to have Wikiversity works peer reviewed from an external entity, such as by trusted experts on a local educational system such as a school. Peer review verification can be performed for such works, wherein trusted Wikimedia community volunteers verify the authenticity of peer review certifications for scientific texts included in Wikiversity.

This can be used as a complement to internal peer review by a Research Review Board. Also, it may be useful for wiki websites with few participants, which may not have a large enough community to support a Research Review Board. An alternative for communities without an active Review Board is to adopt a conventional Wikimedia Foundation No Original Research policy.

Fringe research[edit]

Another obvious concern is how will we deal with fringe groups (eg. Nazis etc) who want to use Wikiversity as a publishing house. The Review Board will guide the community in making sure that all research projects, including fringe research, are conducted according to scholarly research methods as described in the Wikiversity research guidelines. At times, it may be useful to amend the Wikiversity research guidelines so as to explicitly exclude some types of fringe research if they disrupt Wikiversity or distract the community from its educational mission.

Towards Wiki publishing[edit]

Wikiversity does not yet have a system for formal peer reviewed publishing. For Wikiversity research projects there may not necessarily be a final published research report for any given piece of research. Not every research contribution found on Wikiversity is accurate or verifiable. However, the purpose of research activities at Wikiversity is to promote learning, so we do not disregard inept research efforts - rather, we discuss, correct and build upon them. After a research project is complete, a summary report may be posted on a Wikiversity page. The raw data and the research report can be protected from further editing and remain as an historical archive. A goal of Wikiversity is to establish communities of scholars who can perform formal peer review of such research reports. Until such a system for peer reviewed "wiki publishing" can be established, Wikiversity participants should consider publishing original research in established journals. The Review Board might eventually evolve into a robust collection of experts who can support a formal peer review process.

See also[edit]