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Interested in communicating health evidence? Cochrane is calling for volunteers to support Wikipedia editing.

Posted on 7th September 2016 by


Interested in communicating health evidence?  

Cochrane is calling for volunteers to support Wikipedia editing.

Wikipedia’s health content was made up of more than 155,000 articles at the end of 2013, and was viewed more than 4.88 billion times in the same year.[1]  Wikipedia thus is a major source of health information for people across the world.

The Cochrane-Wikipedia partnership, formalized in 2014, supports the inclusion of relevant evidence within all Wikipedia articles on health, as well as processes to help ensure that health information included in Wikipedia is of the highest quality and accuracy. For more information on the Cochrane-Wikipedia partnership click here.

We are now pleased to announce a pilot – in which volunteers will work with Cochrane Global Ageing to help improve the medical and health content of Wikipedia in this area. If you are a student in a health or care related discipline, and have an interest in communicating about evidence informed health care, this is a great opportunity to engage!

In 2016, we will recruit three volunteers that will work with Cochrane Global Ageing, for the period of four months. At the end of this period we will evaluate this pilot phase, consider improvements that can be made, before deciding about continuing the programme in 2017. An honorarium of £ 500, – will be given to the volunteers who successfully complete the project. Successful completion means that the volunteers made edits to four Wikipedia articles and peer reviewed the edits of the other volunteers working with Cochrane Global Ageing

If you are interested to work as a volunteer, please send an email by September 20th 2016 to Sylvia de Haan, Partnerships Coordinator at Cochrane, explaining your interest in evidence informed healthcare and thematic health areas that you are most interested in. Please also include a short CV (max 1 page). Themes could include: biological factors, attitudes, behaviours and environments contributing to the so called geriatric giants of immobility, instability, incontinence and impaired intellect/memory.

What we expect from the volunteer:

·      Interest in communicating about evidence informed health and care;

·      Willing and able to write and edit English Wikipedia articles and understand systematic reviews;

·      Availability during a 4 months period (during the period of October – January 2017) for 3 to 4 hours per week.

What you can expect from Cochrane:

  • Cochrane Global Ageing will dedicate one to two hours per week to work with the volunteer and provide:
    • Guidance and support relating to evidence synthesis and in particular Cochrane Reviews;
    • Editorial oversight of the edits and writing conducted by the volunteer;
    • Guidance on priority topics and articles;
  • The Communications and External Affairs Team at Cochrane will provide overall project management. This will include a virtual kick-off meeting with the volunteers, Cochrane Global Ageing and Wikipedia, as well as monthly meetings to monitor progress, share lessons, and facilitate the work where needed.

What you can expect from Wikipedia:

  • Experienced Wikipedians, including a Wikipedian in residence based at Consumer Reports, will provide training and mentoring support to the volunteers.
  • During the first four weeks of the program, the volunteers will receive one-hour on-line training per week, accompanied by tasks to be accomplished between these weekly sessions. The volunteers are trained in editing and in peer-reviewing edits of their peers.



[1] Heilman JM, West AG (2015), Wikipedia and medicine: quantifying readership, editors, and the significance of natural language. J Med Internet Res. 2015 Mar 4;17(3):e62. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4069.


Selena Ryan-Vig

Selena Ryan-Vig is a Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK. Her role involves sharing Cochrane evidence in accessible ways, managing Cochrane UK's website and social media accounts, and producing newsletters. With a colleague, Selena delivers interactive sessions to students from Years 10 to 13 to teach about evidence-based practice and to encourage critical thinking, particularly around healthcare claims made in the media. She also co-delivers talks for students to raise awareness of Cochrane and reliable, evidence-based resources. She has a psychology degree from the University of Bath. During her degree, she worked for a national charity which provides support for young women. View more posts from Selena

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