Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Research Fund/Understanding How Audiences Use Wikipedia to Navigate Contested Information Environments Online
This is an automatically generated Meta page. The page was copied from EasyChair, the web service used to collect Wikimedia Research Fund applications. Please be aware that applicants may not monitor discussions on the talk page. The application information is here for your review only.
- Benjamin Toff
Affiliation or grant type
- University of Minnesota
- Benjamin Toff
- Understanding How Audiences Use Wikipedia to Navigate Contested Information Environments Online
Description of the proposed project, including aims and approach. Be sure to clearly state the problem, why it is important, why previous approaches (if any) have been insufficient, and your methods to address it.
This project builds on growing research considering the changing ways news audiences stay informed about current affairs in the contemporary, polarized, and fragmented digital environment. Rates of disconnection and disengagement with professionally produced news have declined recently in tandem with growing news avoidance. Likewise, trust in news has declined in markets around the world with large majorities expressing concern about misinformation, disinformation, and overall uncertainty about what sources they can depend on for reliable, factual information.
Previous studies of digital news audiences have found that many people refer to using search engines to cross-check information they encounter when uncertain about what to believe. Some specifically mention turning to resources like Wikipedia to help understand the news they encounter and decipher the commercial or political forces they often assume shapes the coverage they are seeing. Information from Wikipedia about news outlets has also become increasingly integrated into the browsing experience of platforms like Facebook and Google through their “About this content” and “About this result” features.
While a handful of studies have examined the way individuals evaluate information credibility on Wikimedia, limited prior research has considered its role with regards to regular news consumption more broadly. That is, how do typical news audiences make us of Wikimedia tools to navigate their information environments? How successfully are they able to make use of these tools? What do they pay attention to? And what kinds of information about news sources would they most benefit from as they strive to be informed citizens?
This project aims to examine these questions inductively through a 3-country qualitative study of news audiences in Brazil, India, and the US. A mix of 60 participants would be recruited by third-party research firms, which would screen for varying levels of media literacy and predispositions. Interviewees would then be asked to provide not only their perspectives on Wikimedia, but to describe how they use these services in real time as they complete specific information-seeking tasks concerning current affairs. On the basis of these data, a report will be drafted and disseminated with specific recommendations for how to better serve audiences in making effective use of these services.
- Antonis Kalogeropoulos (advisor), University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Approximate amount requested in USD.
- 50,000 USD
Briefly describe what you expect to spend money on (specific budgets and details are not necessary at this time).
The total program budget includes expenses for research firms to screen, recruit, and arrange virtual interview sessions ($15,000), financial compensation for study participants ($2,000), and transcription and translation costs ($9,000). Additional funding is allocated for hourly wages for a graduate research assistant ($2,500) along with a single course buyout for the lead researcher’s time ($15,000). A maximum of 15% is budgeted for institutional overhead ($6,500).
Address the impact and relevance to the Wikimedia projects, including the degree to which the research will address the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction and/or support the work of Wikimedia user groups, affiliates, and developer communities. If your work relates to knowledge gaps, please directly relate it to the knowledge gaps taxonomy.
This project is closely aligned with the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction through its audience-centric emphasis on improving the public’s ability to find and evaluate trustworthy sources of information. It does so by focusing on the intersection of content (what aspects of Wikimedia people pay attention to) and access (how well people are able to navigate these services). Moreover, the project is designed to look across multiple media markets and political contexts in order to assess potential disparities across global communities. The project is expected to be generative not only for further academic research but also for Wikimedians themselves as they develop more tailored tools that support the flow of free and verified information.
Plans for dissemination.
Major findings and recommendations from this project will be disseminated through a public-facing digital report and associated website. Additionally in order to engage with other relevant cutting edge scholarship on digital media, preliminary findings from the study will also be presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association in May 2024, and later through one or more peer-reviewed articles.
Prior contributions to related academic and/or research projects and/or the Wikimedia and free culture communities. If you do not have prior experience, please explain your planned contributions.
Benjamin Toff is an internationally recognized, collaborative academic researcher with a background in political science, journalism, and communication. He has published extensively on digital news consumption, especially avoidance and distrust, in both peer-reviewed outlets including the Journal of Communication and Political Communication as well as more public-facing popular press outlets. He speaks regularly about his research to industry stakeholders, most recently in his capacity as lead researcher on a 3-year project focused on trust in news in Brazil, India, the UK, and the US based out of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.
I agree to license the information I entered in this form excluding the pronouns, countries of residence, and email addresses under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. I understand that the decision to fund this Research Fund application, the application itself along with all the information entered by my in this form excluding the pronouns, country of residences, and email addresses of the personnel will be published on Wikimedia Foundation Funds pages on Meta-Wiki and will be made available to the public in perpetuity. To make the results of your research actionable and reusable by the Wikimedia volunteer communities, affiliates and Foundation, I agree that any output of my research will comply with the WMF Open Access Policy. I also confirm that I have read the privacy statement and agree to abide by the WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.
Please add any feedback or endorsements to the grant discussion page only. Any feedback added here may be removed.