Wikipedia can be a great first stop when beginning research. Mainly it is a great first stop if the article is well cited. Wikipedia can lead you to top scientific papers on a subject. However, if an article is incomplete, poorly cited, or wrong it can not only be useless, but also point you in the wrong direction.
Recently a grip (I love using that word) of Geology Wikipedia articles got repaired, improved, and/or written. This past semester I was a teaching assistant for an upper division Tectonics course taught by Christie Rowe. One of the assignments for the students was the Wikipedia Repair Project. This gave students in the course an opportunity to help other geology students, because chances are the first Google search result is going to be a Wikipedia article.
- The assignment had students pick an article that needed work.
- Either save or print the article and mark it up.
- Do the necessary research.
- Edit (improve) the article offline.
- Submit the original and edited versions to the TA correcting the assignment.
The TA then graded the assignment with the grade gave one of the following recommendations:
- Edit the online Wikipedia article with the new and improved version.
- Make minor edits and edit the online version.
- Major edits then modify the online version after re-submission and approval.
- Or… do not modify the Wikipedia article.
The student’s grade was not finalized until the followed the recommendation.
Now it’s time to get your readin’ on. Here’s a list of the articles that made the final cut and have been updated:
- The Alice Springs Orogeny
- The Highland Boundary Fault
- Episodic tremor and slip
- Mantle Wedge
- Seismic tomography
- The Ryukyu Trench
- Slab pull
- Cocos Plate
- Scotia Plate
- Megathrust earthquake
For profs who are interested in implementing a similar assignment in their courses here is a pdf of the assignment sheet.
What geo-wikipedia articles are lacking? This could be a fun project for the blogosphere, though maybe we should leave some articles for the undergrads.