Long term impact of Wikimedians in Residence (2018)/benefits to WMUK

Evolution of the strategic direction of the WIR programme

The first Wikimedians in Residence in the UK were delivered at around the same time that the charity was developing its overall programme, as a relatively new organisation. Wikimedia UK’s first application to the Wikimedia Foundation for funding mentions Wikimedians in Residence, with the outcomes of the programme stated simplistically: ‘Completion of at least 3 Wikipedian in Residencies. Demand for further placements.’

The lack of strategic direction to the programme meant that we ran it without defined outcomes in mind, instead focusing on tangible outputs such as the number of image donations generated by the residents. However, the 2014 review of the programme highlighted the need for clarity in the strategic direction of the programme internally and in our communications with the potential host organisations. Since those early days, the charity has seen the development of two new strategic plans - covering the period 2014 - 16 and then, upon the appointment of a new Chief Executive in late 2015, the period 2016 - 19. The way we capture progress against goals has also been overhauled in line with strategic changes and our increasing experience in effective monitoring and evaluation.

The introduction of the new strategic framework in 2016 helped us frame the purpose of Wikimedians in Residence, demonstrate potential strategic alignment with partner institutions, and orient the programme in terms of long term impact rather than immediate outputs. The organisation’s strategic goals are to:

  1. Increase the quality and quantity of coverage of subjects that are currently underrepresented on Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects
  2. Contribute to the development of open knowledge in the UK, by increasing understanding and recognition of the value of open knowledge and advocating for change at an organisational, sectoral and public policy level
  3. Support the use of the Wikimedia projects as important tools for education and learning in the UK

To strengthen the link between our strategic goals and the activities within our programmes and WIRs, we created initial logic models framed by the following theories of change:

  1. By developing partnerships with institutions with diverse collections, and other organisations that hold important information about diverse subject areas, we can produce and release material about under-represented subjects and help address systemic bias.
  2. By raising awareness of open knowledge, supporting institutions to overcome practical and cultural barriers to open, advocating for improved copyright legislation and developing WMUK reputation as an agent for change, we build the conditions for content holders within GLAM, STEM and Higher Education to make knowledge open and freely available.

The insights gained through this document clarified these logic models, offering a clearer view of the types of impact that can be achieved as well as the activities and conditions required to maximise impact.

Benefits to Wikimedia UK

Throughout this report we have stressed how beneficial for host organisations the WIR programme is. We also see more clearly the benefits of the WIR programme for the wider community within the global knowledge ecosystem. We are producing high quality information, addressing existing knowledge gaps, growing educational content for everyone.

The Wikimedian in Residence programme also grew as a brand and a flagship programme of Wikimedia UK, becoming recognisable and desirable within the education and cultural sectors in the UK. This has boosted the organisational awareness of our charity, allowing us to be increasingly influential in carrying the messages of open knowledge. Wikimedia UK is therefore committed to pursuing new residencies as an essential route to achieving its strategic goals as highlighted above.