Matthew Vetter (Department of English) has been awarded a research grant from the Wikimedia Foundation (the nonprofit behind Wikipedia) as part of an international team that includes Brett Buttliere (University of Warsaw) and Sage Ross (Wiki Education Foundation).  

The awarded project, titled "Developing Wikimedia Impact Metrics as a Sociotechnical Solution for Encouraging Funder and Academic Engagement," has secured $42,000 in support of primary investigators’ salary and travel. Vetter’s research seeks to address the challenge of motivating academic researchers and scientists to contribute to Wikipedia and other open knowledge projects. 

Despite the growing interest in open educational resources in higher education, relatively few academics have significantly committed to sharing their research expertise in open knowledge projects. In fact, they often face opportunity costs when engaging with platforms like Wikipedia, as the time spent contributing can detract from more traditional scholarly outputs, such as peer-reviewed publications, conferences, and pursuing grants. 

As a potential solution to this problem, Vetter’s research proposes the development of a suite of impact metrics, including items such as direct contributions to Wikipedia articles, research citations in Wikipedia, page views, and others. By creating and disseminating easily accessible metrics, the team aims to demonstrate the scholarly impact of direct and indirect contributions to Wikimedia projects. These metrics will be essential in persuading funders to recognize and support Wikimedia engagement as a legitimate outcome of research grants, as well as in showcasing the value of Wikipedia engagement as a form of public scholarship. 

"We are honored to receive this grant from the Wikimedia Foundation," said Vetter, who has been teaching, researching, and editing Wikipedia for over a decade. "Our research team is excited to collaborate on this project, which, as its most fundamental goal, aims to motivate experts to edit their knowledge into Wikipedia."

The project will involve surveying and interviewing academics who have previously engaged Wikipedia to identify the most relevant metrics for indicating impact, developing these metrics, soliciting feedback, and integrating them into a dashboard prototype. By engaging directly with the Wikimedia community, the team hopes to ensure that the developed metrics accurately capture the diverse ways in which Wikimedia projects contribute to knowledge dissemination and societal impact.

The project is set to commence in June and will be conducted over the next 12 months. Updates on the progress of the research will be shared with the Wikimedia community and the broader academic community through regular reports and publications.

For more information and updates about the project, please visit the research documentation page, which will be updated throughout the year.