Original Research projects at Wikiversity introduce a risk that unsound methods will be used in some projects. Original research can generate unverifiable data and conclusions. It is also possible for nonresearch-related ideas and writings to masquerade as research. As outlined at Research guidelines, acceptable original research at Wikiversity is shaped by ethical considerations and precautions against research methods that lead to inaccurate or falsified data. Wikiversity relies on peer review of research projects to identify and correct problems that might arise in research projects. In addition to conventional wiki peer review by wiki webpage editing, Wikiversity also seeks to establish a more formalized system for peer review; the Research Review Board ("Review Board", for short). The Review Board is a group of community-approved Wikiversity participants tasked to help the community verify the methods used in research projects and deal with any potential problems.
Pre-approval of research projects
Most types of Wikiversity research projects do not need to be submitted to the Review Board for approval before they are started as Wikiversity webpages. A possible exception is any research activity conducted at Wikiversity that would normally require review by an Institutional Review Board. Potentially, a research project approved by an IRB at a bricks-and-mortar research institution could involve research activities conducted at Wikiversity. Any such IRB-approved research should be evaluated by the Wikiversity Review Board in order to make sure that the proposed research does not violate Wikimedia Foundation policy and is not beyond the educational mission of Wikiversity.
Review of research methods and practice
The main function of the Review Board is to help guide the whole Wikiversity community in peer review of research projects. It is of particular concern that each research project adhere to the Wikiversity research guidelines. The Review Board helps the community distinguish between valid research methods and bogus research methods. When problems in research methods and practices are identified, the Review Board helps the community respond so as to correct any problems in research activities at Wikiversity. In conjunction with Wikiversity sysops, problematical research projects that cannot be corrected will be terminated.
In keeping with the educational mission of Wikiversity, the Review Board will help Wikiversity participants learn how to use productive and reliable research methods.
Wikiversity does not have a system for formal peer review of research results and conclusions. The Review Board does not "approve" the results from original research projects before they are considered "published" on Wikiversity. All members of Wikiversity research projects can post their research conclusions on wiki webpages, but such "informal publication" does not imply any certification of the research by the Review Board or Wikiversity. The Review Board only helps the community make sure that research projects are conducted according to Wikiversity research guidelines and sound research methods.
A long-term goal is for Wikiversity to explore the possibility of having a formal peer review system for research reports. It is possible that in the future the Review Board could evolve into a way for experts to conduct formal peer review of research results within Wikiversity. Until then, any research results arising from research projects at Wikiversity should be submitted for peer review at conventional journals.
The Review Board members are called "Referees". Referees are Wikiversity participants nominated then accepted by the community in a similar manner to how Custodians are selected.
Referees help the community:
- mark pages of original research projects with the appropriate template
- make sure that original research follows the Research Guidelines
- approve any research-related activities at Wikiversity that are part another institution's IRB-approval research project
- make sure data and research results arising from original research are correctly archived and not manipulated after posting as an historical archive
- identify and correct poor research methods or work with sysops to terminate projects that cannot be corrected
Referees are not Custodians - they do not have the privileges to deal with breaches in the guidelines beyond editing the wiki webpages of research projects. If a research project needs to be terminated, referees can request that Custodians take action to delete pages or block editors who refuse to follow the research guidelines. However, some Referees may also be Custodians. In such cases, the account holder of such privileges needs to clearly identify the role they are acting in so that there is no actual or perceived conflict of interest.
Selection of referees
Referees are selected because of their past history of Wikiversity editing. Wikiversity editors who have demonstrated expertise in particular subject areas and an interest in helping the community monitor the methods and practices of research projects will be potential candidate Referees. Candidates can self-nominate or be nominated by someone else. Candidates become Referees following community discussion and approval by consensus. Such candidates must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence in order to referee.
Conduct of referees
Becoming a Referee means taking on extra duties and responsibilities in service of the Wikiversity community. In particular, Referees are expected to apply their expertise and experience to help guide the community in peer review of research methods and practices used in Wikiversity research projects. Referees never demand action based on their "expert opinion", rather they use their expertise to help provide explanations that guide the community to consensus.
- Research policies
- Research-related pages