Research:Who edits health-related Wikipedia pages and why?

This page documents a research project in progress.
Information may be incomplete and change as the project progresses.
Please contact the project lead before formally citing or reusing results from this page.

Key Personnel


Nuša Farič, MSc Health Psychology University College London (UCL)

Project Summary


I am a Health Psychology researcher at University College London (UCL). For my Master’s project I am interested to characterize editors (Wikipedians) of health-related pages and find out more about their editorial motivations and experiences. I want to interview a portion of randomly selected authors asking them to talk freely about their editorial experiences and main motivations for their contribution to health content on Wikipedia.



The researcher chose 20 randomly selected health-related articles on Wikipedia and will contact five most recent authors of each of the articles, inviting them to participate in the study. Alternatively, editors of health-related pages can volunteer to participate in the study by contacting the researcher throught her Wikipedia talk page (Hydra_Rain). The participants agreeing to participate will be asked to fill out a brief online questionnaire which shuld take no longer than 5 minutes to complete, followed by a semi-strucutred interview. The interview will take approximately 30 minutes either via Skype or in the written form and will be arranged upon participant's request.



This research will be published as my Masters thesis (05/09/2012) at the University College London. I will shatre my findings with Wikipedia communnity, either through Wikisource and/or Wikimedia Commons. The findings may be considered for publication in British Journal of Health Psychology.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection


This study is compliant with UCL Ethical Guidelines and 1998 Data Protection Act. UCL Data Protection Registration, reference No Z6364106/2012/03/19 research: social research. This project is compliant with the 1998 Data Protection Act.

Information provided by participants will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anynoe outside the research team. All answers will be annonymous and all interviews deleted upon transcription. The participants will have the chance to familiarise themselves with the study through the information sheet and can withdraw from study at any time. For more informatino see Hydra_Rain Wikipedia userpage.

Benefits for the Wikimedia community


This study can have implications for the reliability of health-related content on Wikipedia, for the Web 2.0. and the related Health 2.0. as well as Wikipedia’s potential to be used as a tool for global health promotion.


  1. October-December 2011 - project set up
  2. January-March 2012 - background research, article sampling, information sheet and ethics forms for participants. Ethical approval. 1998 Data Protection Act.
  3. April-July 2012- data collection (author interviews) and data analysis (grounded theory)
  4. August-September 2012- - further data analysis and project write up



I am not receiving any funding or grant for this project.


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  • National Institute of Health (2009). NIH and Wikimedia Foundation Collaborate to Improve Online Health Information. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from
  • Alexa (2012). Alexa Top 500 Global Sites. Retrieved on 20 June 2012, from
  • Czarnecka-Kujawa, K., Abdalin, R., & Grover, S.C. (2008). The quality of open access and open source internet material in gastroenterology: Is Wikipedia appropriate for knowledge transfer to patients? Gastroenterology, 134(4):A-325.
  • Eysenbach G. (2002). Infodemiology: The epidemiology of (mis)information. Am J Med;113(9):763-765
  • Kreiss, D., Finn, M., & Turner, F. (2010). The Limits of Peer Production: Some Reminders from Max Weber for the Network Society. New Media & Society, 13(2), 243- 259.
  • Laurent, M.R. & Vickers, T.J. (2009). Seeking health information online: does Wikipedia matter? J Am Med Inform Assoc;16(4):471-479.
  • West, R., Weber, I., & Castillo, C. (2011).. contribtb open_access wrn2011 wrn201112. Nov, O. (2007). What motivates Wikipedians? Communications of the ACM, 50 (11), 60 – 64.
  • Kuznetsov, S. (2006). Motivations of contributors to Wikipedia. Computers & Society, 36 (2), 1 - 7
  • Suzuki, Y. (2011). Individual and Social Motivations to Contribute to Commons-Based Peer Production. Retrieved 06/14/2012 from
  • Hamburger, Y.A., Lamdan, N., Madiel, R., & Hayat, T. (2008). Personality characteristics of Wikipedia members. CyberPsyhology & Behaviour, 11(6).
  • Heilman JM, Kemmann E, Bonert M, et al. (2011). "Wikipedia: a key tool for global public health promotion". J. Med. Internet Res. 13 (1): e14. DOI:10.2196/jmir.1589. PMID 21282098.

My Talk Page Questionnaire



For any questions, suggestions or comments please do not hesitate to contact:

  • or alternatively
  • Skype: wikiproject

Thank you!