Parnassius apollo, insect collection, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Photo by Vítězslav Maňák, graduate student at the university.

On January 18, 2013, Wikimedia Sweden and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences launched a unique collaboration. The collaboration was so rare that we had to invent a new position – “Wikipedian in Academy” – in addition to the “Wikipedian in Residence” already prevalent at different GLAM-institutions. Now it is time to take up residency at the universities. Swedish universities have three statutory responsibilities – research, education, and science outreace (in Sweden labelled “den tredje uppgiften” [the third task]). Contributing to Wikipedia is of course the single most effective way to achieve science outreach (fulfill the third task) in higher education; there is simply no other platform which allows you to reach so many readers.

Currently, Wikipedia projects linked to universities are so far based on contributions from students and individual researchers, but to this day there is no project where researchers officially affiliated with a particular university have written about science on Wikipedia in an organized form. Since no university has taken this challenge seriously, SLU collaborated with Wikimedia Sweden to pioneer the scientific community’s commitment to Wikipedia.

This project was launched at a Wikipedia day on January 18, 2013, with invited international key note speakers and will be followed up with development of manuals, workshops, and a help desk run by a project manager (Wikipedian in Academy) during a five-month period. This project will be monitored and reported at a conference a year later with the goal of at least 100 researchers having made a substantial contribution to Wikipedia (defined as part of an article).

The intention is to have an annual Wikipedia day when researchers participate in workshops and training and/or write about their field of research in Swedish and foreign language Wikipedia. We are also initiating and developing a network of Wikipedia Ambassadors at the university, who will continue the work after the project has ended.

This project has been designed, developed and implemented by Arild Vågen and education manager Sophie Österberg from Wikimedia Sweden, and researcher Olle Terenius and head of communications Tina Zethraeus at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Arild Vågen, Wikipedian in Academy at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences