It's no secret that many in academia do not like Wikipedia. It's regularly frowned upon, and there's often talk about barring the use of Wikipedia. Of course, much of this is based on a misunderstanding of what Wikipedia is and how it works. That's not to say Wikipedia is perfect or trustworthy. But it is a valuable source, when used in conjunction with other sources. And it's nice to see at least some recognizing that. A report on the Wikipedia blog highlights how professor Michel Aaij was able to use his vast Wikipedia contributions as part of his tenure application
, and it worked. Obviously, he had done other stuff as well, but the Wikipedia efforts clearly helped (and it didn't hurt that he'd previously turned some of his colleagues around on the whole concept of Wikipedia).
Michel added the articles he’d achieved Good Article status for under the research section, including two that were going through the review process, and added articles that had appeared in the Did You Know section of the main page on medieval and literary topics, as well as topics about Montgomery, Alabama, the town in which his university is located.
"It took a bit of shuffling and organizing, but in the end I had a meaty section on Wikipedia and my work there under research, based on the claim that Did You Knows, Good Articles, and Featured Articles are all scrutinized more or less during a peer-review process," Michel says. "I had supporting materials in the forms of articles I had written in both research and service. In the end, I suggested (based on the advice of three of my colleagues) that Wikipedia articles were no worse than for instance those published by the GALE databases–it is worthwhile adding that we had just hired a new chair partly on the basis of such bibliographic articles."
Michel's tenured colleagues approved him unanimously, and the campus-wide committee awarded him tenure last month, marking perhaps the first time that a professor has received tenure in part due to his Wikipedia contributions.
It certainly would be nice if the overly broad anti-Wikipedia bias in academia was starting to fade... Of course, it's important to point out that it wasn't just
Wikipedia edits on his application, but either way, it appears that his colleagues are gaining increasing respect for work done on Wikipedia in addition to traditional journals.