Wikipedia Collaboration of Dental Schools

Written by Nour Geres

It has been over a year and a half since Dundee Dental School first established the Wikipedia Editing Project, a student-led effort with the intent of improving dental articles on the site. Students at Dundee first learned of the deficiency and often absence of dental information on Wikipedia from a former Wikipedian in residence with the Cochrane Collaboration. A group of students felt change was necessary as they were disappointed from their own experience of having used Wikipedia to search for dental topics. So they decided to take the lead in establishing the UK’s first continuously running dental Editing Group.

To recruit students, an introductory event was held: a lecture was given on the type of research generally conducted and the type suitable for citation on dental Wikipedia articles. This was followed by a tutorial on how to edit. Those interested then sign up to an Editing Group which met on a regular basis to edit assigned topics.  At the end of each semester, groups presented their edits before peers and lecturers. This was an opportunity for our editors to showcase their work and allowed for a chance to discuss the chosen topics and any challenges faced in the process of editing. Since the establishment of the group in early 2016, our students have made a tangible difference for the benefit of their peers, dentists and the general public, through the creation of numerous new pages as well as the expansion and improvement of existing ones. Below is just a small sample of the pages developed by our students:

  • Dental Extraction page- a section on post- extraction bleeding has been added
  • Fissure Sealant page has been expanded to further explain use, materials and techniques for success as well as other preventative treatment options for caries
  • Fluoride Varnish page- an image was added, resources were added under clinical recommendations
  • References were improved on the Dental Dam page
  • Orthognathic surgery page- expanded to include information on cleft lip and palate and references were also improved

The dedication and effort demonstrated by our editors at Dundee has been remarkable. Their contribution to the dissemination of evidence based dentistry has sparked the interest of many in the dental community and word quickly spread through news outlets and social media blogs. By February 2017 the Dundee Dental Wikipedia Editing Project expanded to include the growing number of schools joining the cause and so the Wikiepdia Collaboration of Dental Schools was born. The Collaboration now includes the Cairo branch of the University of Dundee (who edit in both English and Arabic), Glasgow, Aberdeen and Manchester Dental Schools in the UK as well as Tufts and Harvard Schools of Dental Medicine and New York University College of Dentistry in the USA. These schools are currently in the process of establishing their own Editing Groups as well as undergoing training, under the guidance of Dundee Dental School, with the aim of having their groups up and running by the coming academic year.

We are thrilled that others have joined our cause and look forward to the unique contribution each school will bring to the Project. Over the coming year we aim to work as an international community of students, dentists and academics to enhance the accessibility of accurate, up-to date, evidence based information through Wikipedia. Our long-term vision is to enable the existence of a large online community of editors that will work collectively to maintain, update and expand information on the Encyclopaedia. We would be delighted if any individuals or schools wish to join and welcome you to get in touch at ngeres@dundee.ac.uk or through our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WikiCollab/

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