Scientific citations in Wikipedia

Finn Arup Nielsen


The Internet-based encyclopaedia Wikipedia has grown to become one of the most visited Web sites on the Internet, but critics have questioned the quality of entries. An empirical study of Wikipedia found errors in a 2005 sample of science entries. Biased coverage and lack of sources are among the "Wikipedia risks." This paper describes a simple assessment of these aspects by examining the outbound links from Wikipedia articles to articles in scientific journals with a comparison against journal statistics from Journal Citation Reports such as impact factors. The results show an increasing use of structured citation markup and good agreement with citation patterns seen in the scientific literature though with a slight tendency to cite articles in high-impact journals such as Nature and Science. These results increase confidence in Wikipedia as a reliable information resource for science in general.

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