I would think that valid Wikipedia articles can indeed
"original research" by others outside Wikipedia, as articles should
arise from the gathering of information from various sources (a
process called research?) with the result of an article unique to
On Wikipedia though, the term has been hijacked to some degree to
include a much narrower category of work - namely those consisting of
original conclusions, original theories, etc. By and large though,
such work falls into a category that common sense would dictate
shouldn't be on Wikipedia, for the reasons outlined by Jimbo.
I think this is probably the reason for any confusion over the term
"original research". I could be wrong of course!
Well, I'd expand the ban on "original research" slightly further than
just that. An article that makes no new low-level claims, but
nonethless synthesizes work in a non-standard way, is effectively
original research that I think we ought not to publish. This comes up
most often in history, where there is a tendency by some Wikipedians to
produce novel narratives and historical interpretations with citation to
primary sources to back up their interpretation of events. Even if
their citations are accurate, Wikipedia's poorly equipped to judge
whether their particular synthesis of the available information is a
A better approach, IMO, is to report more generally what syntheses are
accepted by people working in the field. In the common case where there
are multiple competing narratives, then we ought to report that as well.