The New Scientist recently reported that a group of physicists and the American Physical Society (APS) are having a disagreement over inclusion of derivative materials on Wikipedia and other, more specialized wikis. Peter Suber has a good analysis of the controversy.

Overall, it seems like the issues are being addressed in a reasonable way.

It served to remind me of Wikipedia’s policy against original research publication. I particularly like their prohibition against original thought. This policy makes perfect sense for a reference work, and clearly defines its mission and role.

It also led me to consider a couple of questions outside the realm of rights and permissions:

  1. With so many outlets for processed, synthesized information, does the value of a single, coherent, unified report of original research findings go up, go down, or stay the same?
  2. Does it make anyone uncomfortable that the authors of original research would be inserting their own findings into a larger reference work?
Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.