When the public searches for information about political science, the top search results are usually Wikipedia articles. As the fifth most-visited website, Wikipedia is the go-to resource for knowledge on every topic, and is entirely written by volunteers. As political science scholars, it’s our duty to ensure that political science related information on Wikipedia is accurate and complete. MPSA is encouraging our members to actively participate in curating knowledge on Wikipedia about our discipline as a community service.

The goal of the MPSA Wikipedia Initiative is to make information about political science on Wikipedia as complete, accurate, and as reflective of current scholarship as possible. In order to accomplish this, MPSA encourages members to contribute content to Wikipedia, or assign students to do so as part of your courses.

Teaching with Wikipedia

One simple way for political scientists to improve articles about the discipline is to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool. Students contribute content to Wikipedia in place of, or in addition to, a traditional research paper through a classroom activity. MPSA has partnered with Wiki Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia assignments in the United States and Canada, to expand and improve the coverage of political science on Wikipedia.

Through this partnership, a Wiki Education Foundation staff member will help you craft an assignment that meets your student learning objectives, and makes a positive impact to Wikipedia. Wiki Ed has online trainings for you and your students, tools for designing the assignment and tracking student work, staff to help you throughout the project, and brochures and handouts for you to distribute to students in class.

As your students craft their Wikipedia articles, they’ll develop key skills such as:

  • Fact-based, neutral writing
  • Research methods
  • Collaboration
  • Information literacy and source evaluation
  • Critical thinking

Best of all, the coursework will serve to improve publicly available information about your course topics for the public and for future generations of students.

As of April 2020 (5 years into our partnership), political scientists have included Wikipedia in 139 courses. Their 3,306 students have collectively edited 3,790 articles on Wikipedia and have added 3.16 million words.

We also now have the ability to calculate that these students have added 29,100 references to Wikipedia. And readers have accessed these pages nearly 600 million times.  Here are a selection of those courses:

Ready to get started?

Contact the Wiki Education Foundation at contact@wikiedu.org, and let them know that you’re interested in participating in the MPSA Wikipedia Initiative, or check out  http://wikiedu.org/for-instructors for a full list of resources available to help craft and implement a successful assignment. The Wiki Education Foundation has developed these tools and best practices after working with over 650 university courses, and they can help your students have a rewarding experience that makes a big impact to the real world.