Med school students assigned to improve most-used medical Wikipedia entries

Dr. Amin Azzam who teaches at the UCSF school of medicine, has created an elective for his fourth year students in which they are assigned to improve the most-used medical Wikipedia entries. Students are given Wikipedia orientation and taught how to be good participants in the project. This is especially relevant given the fact that Wikipedia is the most-used reference among doctors and medical students. The students prioritize the most-cited, most-visited entries, and they are working with wikipedians to have these entries translated into many other languages, as well as adapting it for the "simple English" version of Wikipedia.

The pilot run, he said, was a great success. Five students (believe it or not, that’s a lot of students for a fourth-year elective in medical school, according to Azzam), after being oriented to the structure and editing process of the site, spent their month targeting articles that required improvement: the most read and those with the greatest potential health impact. They put their medical knowledge—after all, Azzam said, the students were less than six months away from being doctors—to good use. Most of Wikipedia is surprisingly accurate, Azzam said, because it uses the “wisdom of the crowd” to vet information. But medical pages have catching up to do. “Medical professionals haven’t been editing Wikipedia,” he said. “In fact, we were told not to go near it.” This anti-crowdsourcing bias has kept doctors from contributing to the site’s accuracy until now, Azzam said. But current students are more open to the value of editing the articles. +

America’s future doctors are starting their careers by saving Wikipedia [Rachel Feltman/Quartz]