GLAM/Case studies/German Society for Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery
Medical content of the German-language version of Wikipedia is managed, organised and improved by the Medical Editorial Board. This is done with great enthusiasm; however, there are still some topics where considerable gaps are present, as well as a number of articles containing tags (mostly referring to the absence of sources). This problem extends to some of our pivotal articles, not all of which currently meet our self-defined quality standards.
As the only surgeon contributing on a regular basis, I have tried to improve our existing articles since the end of 2007. In mid-2008, I was contacted by a new user seeking my assistance, who turned out to be a leading member of the guidelines commission of the German Consortium of Scientific Medical Associations (AWMF). This resulted in a fruitful collaboration: the user provided high-quality texts, which I basically formatted, restructured and categorised. During our work, the idea of a more in-depth collaboration between the relatively young German Society for Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU) and Wikipedia was born. The DGOU board of directors established a task force which planned a meeting and invited me to talk about providing scientific content through Wikipedia, as well as its general mode of operation, which I gladly did. As an additional bonus, two very competent members of the editorial board whom I have known personally for a long time agreed to assist me, which made it possible to give talks on three general topics.
The meeting took place on February 3rd in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and consisted of seven members of the DGOU board of directors, as well as the three of us. The Kurier (the internal news source of the German-language Wikipedia) published the following report in the evening of the same day:
DGOU Goes Wikipedia
The German Society for Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU), an association of more that 6000 professionals, has established a task force that wants to systematically contribute and improve Wikipedia articles within its field of expertise as a part of its public relations. During the first meeting with members of the German-language Wikipedia Medical Editorial Board, the scientists – amongst whom were both the chairman and the secretary general of the Society – expressed great interest in Wikipedia's quality control and vandalism prevention mechanisms.
In three short talks, Drahreg01, Kuebi and THWZ presented the philosophy of the open system constituting Wikipedia, the principles of source-based work within its scientific articles, as well as the few strengths and many weaknesses of our article inventory within our common field of expertise "Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery". One well-known trauma surgeon, who shall remain anonymous, expressed his amazement at the fact that a nonsensical article he had submitted to Wikipedia as an experiment had been deleted within two minutes' time. All in all, we hope to have been able to dispel the scientists' reservations concerning a sustainable quality assurance of Wikipedia content.
The DGOU collaborative project will be conducted on a sub-page of the Medical Editorial Board in order to provide a safe framework for developing new articles, which will be formatted and reviewed by experienced wikipedians before being "released into the wild". Once the project starts working successfully, we hope that it will provide the necessary motivation for the other member societies of the German Consortium of Scientific Medical Associations to also become involved. The Medical Editorial Board is looking forward to a lot of work! Drah, Kuebi, THWZ 3. Feb. 2010
Source: "Kurier" article, German-language Wikipedia, February 4th, 2010 (permalink)
License:Crative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0 and GFDL
A Success Story?
The project has now started, a forum for organising our collaborative efforts has been established, and the Medical Editorial Board is looking forward to the tasks to come. Whether this will turn out to be a success story remains to be seen. It would, however, be the first example of a planned and structured collaboration between a scientific professional body and Wikipedia, and thus the first step into the right direction.