[WikiEN-l] Original research

Delirium delirium at hackish.org
Fri Dec 3 20:46:25 UTC 2004

Zoney wrote:

>I would think that valid Wikipedia articles can indeed be considered
>"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 
reasonable one.

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.


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