Cochrane-Wikipedia Initiative: Keeping Wikipedia content up to date

Cochrane-Wikipedia Initiative: Keeping Wikipedia content up to date

Jennifer Dawson works with Cochrane’s Communications and External Affairs team as a Wikipedia Consultant. Her role includes maintaining and building further relations with Wikipedia, connecting new editors to the Wikipedia community, and supporting requests for engagement in Wikipedia work from the Cochrane community. This blog post shares two strategies for improving the quality of Wikipedia articles using Cochrane evidence.

Wikipedia is a powerful public knowledge-translation tool. Across all languages, health-related Wikipedia articles receive over 10 million visits per day from around the world.(1)

To improve the quality of Wikipedia articles, Cochrane and Wikipedia developed the Cochrane-Wikipedia Partnership in 2014. Presently, there are over 2000 uses of Cochrane Reviews in Wikipedia. Many Cochrane Groups are training Wikipedia editors and developing new ways to share high-quality evidence on Wikipedia. Wiley and the Cochrane Library have distributed over 85 free accounts to Wikipedians to support the sharing of Cochrane evidence on Wikipedia.

Cochrane-Wikipedia Update Project

Cochrane Reviews are updated regularly based on need and updated reviews receive a new citation on MedLine. Once these updates are published, the next step is to update the citation within the Wikipedia article and make sure that the new conclusions are reflected on Wikipedia. Out of date Cochrane Reviews are flagged automatically in Wikipedia with the “Cochrane-Update-Bot”, and this editing task is popular amongst Cochrane-Wikipedians. See our project page!

This volunteer task does not take a lot of time to perform, but the potential impact is very large. Between May 2017-October 2017, volunteers updated 330 Wikipedia articles and the articles have already received close to 32 million views. There are presently about 50 Cochrane Reviews that need to be updated on Wikipedia. If you have five minutes and want to stay up to date with Cochrane evidence, this volunteer task may be for you!

New Cochrane-Wikipedia Project!

Many content errors in Wikipedia articles are due to not enough skilled editors inserting new evidence.(2) A new Cochrane project will tackle this! The Cochrane Schizophrenia Group tested 200 Cochrane Reviews and found that approximately half were “Wiki-compatible”, meaning that their conclusions had a fairly obvious landing place within a current Wikipedia article.(3) In light of this, we have created a Wikipedia Project Page that includes a list of all the Cochrane Reviews not presently in Wikipedia. Volunteers will be directed to the project page, given Wikipedia-editing support, and encouraged to “be bold” (Wikipedia-style) and select Cochrane Reviews to insert into Wikipedia. There are over 5000 reviews on the list, and while not all of the reviews will have an obvious home in Wikipedia, it is our goal to work through the list over the next 12 months and add in new Cochrane content. We will be recruiting editors for this new task through Cochrane Engage or visit the project page directly and start editing!



  1. Heilman JM , West AG. Wikipedia and medicine: quantifying readership, editors, and the significance of natural language. J Med Internet Res 2015;17:e62.doi:10.2196/jmir.4069
  2. Mesgari M , Okoli C, Mehdi M , et al. ‘The sum of all human knowledge’: A systematic review of scholarly research on the content of Wikipedia. J Assn Inf Sci Tec 2015;66:219–45 .doi:10.1002/asi.23172
  3. Adams, C. What proportion of Cochrane Reviews are Wiki-compatible?


23 October 2017

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