Crowdsourcing Knowledge Interdiscursive Flows from Wikipedia into Scholarly Research


  • Simon Lindgren Umeå University, Sweden



Wikipedia, collective intelligence, academia, encyclopaedias, citations


Information increasingly flows from smart online knowledge systems, based on ‘collective intelligence’, and to the more traditional form of knowledge production that takes place within academia. Looking specifically at the case of Wikipedia, and at how it is employed in scholarly research, this study contributes new knowledge about the potential role of user-generated information in science and innovation. This is done using a dataset collected from the Scopus research database, which is processed with a combination of bibliometric techniques and qualitative analysis. Results show that there has been a significant increase in the use of Wikipedia as a reference within all areas of science and scholarship. Wikipedia is used to a larger extent within areas like Computer Science, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities, than in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Psychology. Wikipedia is used as a source for a variety of knowledge and information as a replacement for traditional reference works. A thematic qualitative analysis showed that Wikipedia knowledge is recontextualised in different ways when it is incorporated into scholarly discourse. In general, one can identify two forms of framing where one is unmodalised, and the other is modalised. The unmodalised uses include referring to Wikipedia as a complement or example, as a repository, and as an unproblematic source of information. The modalised use is characterised by the invocation of various markers that emphasise – in different ways – that Wikipedia can not be automatically trusted. It has not yet achieved full legitimacy as a source.


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Theme: Changing Orders of Knowledge? Encyclopedias in Transition