I have two ideas to boost academic participation.
One idea is to mobilize an academic association. Establish a formal tie with Wikipedia
to get a review for articles in a certain field. This could boost the legitimacy of their
work in the field. (Though not guaranteed.) If they want, they can publish it with their
endorsement and editorship as a book. We may be able to give them some advice on that.
Another idea is to create an official position like "reviewer,"
something fancier and give it to academics upon request. The responsibility of
those people are to give comments on articles qualities, suggest ways to improve
them, point to quality citations, etc. And if their contributions are poor,
we revoke their status as a reviewer.
As I suggested on meta, official positions do not have to be limited to things
like chief financial officers, developer rep, etc.
Asking opinions only is better than participation for a few reasons, in my opinion:
1) In humanities and social sciences, as I know, academics are not
NPOV, and encyclopedia articles in those fields are not neccessarily NPOV, either.
So, we ask only their comments, without being obliged to follow it.
The academics are very welcome to edit articles, of course, as long as they
follow the NPOV and other policies.
2) Reviewing and critiquing articles is usually easier than writing articles. Even
busy people can possibly participate. And we can possibly benefit from their comments.
3) I am an academic my self, but I have to admit that I am a bit hesitant to recommend
some Wikipedias to some of my colleagues. It is because of trolling, flaming, edit war,
and and other wild behaviors that are not for newcomers if they expect warm and
welcome. I have to say, "participate at your own risk!" Some people do want high
in and out of classrooms.. Some people could humbly deal with hasty defenders of
but others would simply leave after getting a lot of negative feedbacks and not much of
So, it might work better for some academics if they can keep a distance from the wilder
part of Wikipedia.