Research recruitment

(Redirected from Research Policy)

Scholarly research of Wikipedia is useful for understanding the encyclopedia's content, readers, editors, history, current state, and future. These results also yield important knowledge applicable to other open content communities. In addition to driving scholarly knowledge of such systems, this work can also give results that can improve Wikipedia itself. Much valuable research cannot be done without Wikipedia community members who volunteer to participate in studies. This policy exists to further three goals:

  1. To allow important research of Wikipedia and its users to take place.
  2. To ensure that that individual community members' preferences on whether and how frequently they are invited to participate in research studies are respected.
  3. To ensure that research studies are respectful of participating community members and community norms.

This policy describes how researchers can recruit members via talk page postings and creates the Subject Recruitment Approvals Group (SRAG), a public discussion group, to control who will be allowed to make those postings. SRAG receives applications from researchers to recruit editors to participate in research and manages the public consensus process which considers them. If the recruitment is approved, SOMETHING contacts selected community members and invites them to participate. Each community member controls whether and how often the bot can contact him or her (see en:User:SubjectRecruitmentBot).



This policy pertains to the activities of researchers within Wikimedia projects.



For a more complete summary, see: en:User:EpochFail/What_are_these_researchers_doing_in_my_Wikipedia

Expanding articles is not the only way to contribute to Wikipedia. There is room for many different types of contribution: copy edits, content edits, template construction, vandal fighting, bot management, etc. Through the use of the scientific method, researchers contribute to Wikipedia by extended understanding about the community and bringing state-of-the-art technologies to editors.

Recruitment of research participants


Many types of interesting research are only possible with the ability to contact a random sample of community members to ask them to participate in a study. However, it is important to respect the wishes of Wikipedia community members on whether and how often they are contacted in this way. This section defines the Subject Recruitment Approvals Group to control recruitment message postings.

SRAG holds public discussions regarding applications to recruit community members. If a proposed research study finds consensus, SRAG will contact community members on behalf of the researchers.

As a rule of thumb, if a researcher wants to contact an individual with the intent of collecting data for use in a study, and that contact is unsolicited, he or she will need approval from SRAG. Specifically, a researcher must obtain SRAG approval to use tools within Wikipedia (e.g., talk page postings) to contact Wikipedia users when all of the following apply:

  • The communication would be the first by that researcher and the user (automated talk page postings by bot do not count as prior communication).
  • The message is not personal communication.
  • The message is not related directly to work on Wikipedia content, policy, or systems.
  • The user did not solicit the message.
  • The user is not a member of a WikiProject, work group, etc. managed by the researcher.
  • The user is not a current or recent participant in one of the researchers' studies.

Community members who have received a recruitment message have no obligation to participate in the study. Users who do not wish to receive subject recruitment messages will be able to opt out via template {{bots}} (for more information, see en:User:SubjectRecruitmentBot). Also, a bot-specific template allows for customization regarding the frequency or the number of studies to which a user would like to be recruited over a period of time.

Requirements for SRAG approval


Wikipedia and SRAG favor approving recruitment for studies that are of low risk to Wikipedia's editors and that are likely to benefit the community.

All approved recruitment must meet the following set of requirements:

  • The research must have merit, as deemed by the Wikipedia community. The benefits of performing the research will influence the approved sample size.
    • The research is designed to learn about communities like Wikipedia (wikis, open collaboration systems, mass collaboration, etc.)
    • The number of users approved for recruitment should be influenced by the potential value of the results of a study.
  • The nature of the study is adequately disclosed. All information that would be necessary for participants give informed consent to participate in a study has been made available.
    • Adequate information may not mean complete information. Many studies will require that the experimental design is not made public until after data gathering is completed due to the use of controls.
    • Subjects must know what they will need to do, what risks may exist, and how information about them will be stored and/or published.
  • The study will respect the preferences of community members and Wikipedia policy. The study will not unnecessarily make life difficult for community members – participating or not. The study must also respect the policies of Wikipedia and not cause undue harm to the system.
  • Results must be made freely available in a reasonable timespan. Specifically, this means that the results of a study must be either made freely available or submitted to a publication within two years of the start of recruitment.
    • If the results are submitted to a publication that requires a fee or membership to retrieve the results, the results (possibly rewritten to avoid copyright problems) must otherwise be made available for free within one month of the non-free publication.
    • It is possible to petition SRAG for extensions to these requirements.

See also