Academics and Wikipedia: reframing Web 2.0 as a disruptor of traditional academic power-knowledge arrangements

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Academics and Wikipedia: reframing Web 2.0+as a disruptor of traditional academic power-knowledge arrangements
Authors: Henk Eijkman [edit item]
Citation: Campus-Wide Information Systems 27 (3): 173-85. 2010.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1108/10650741011054474.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
Added by Wikilit team: Added on initial load
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Academics and Wikipedia: reframing Web 2.0+as a disruptor of traditional academic power-knowledge arrangements is a publication by Henk Eijkman.


[edit] Abstract

Purpose - There is much hype about academics' attitude to Wikipedia. This paper seeks to go beyond anecdotal evidence by drawing on empirical research to ascertain how academics respond to Wikipedia and the implications these responses have for the take-up of Web 2.0+. It aims to test the hypothesis that Web 2.0+, as a platform built around the socially constructed nature of knowledge, is inimical to conventional power-knowledge arrangements in which academics are traditionally positioned as the key gatekeepers to knowledge. Design/methodology/approach - The research relies on quantitative and qualitative data to provide an evidence-based analysis of the attitudes of academics towards the student use of Wikipedia and towards Web 2.0+. These data were provided via an online survey made available to a number of universities in Australia and abroad. As well as the statistical analysis of quantitative data, qualitative data were subjected to thematic analysis using relational coding. Findings - The data by and large demonstrate that Wikipedia continues to be a divisive issue among academics, particularly within the soft sciences. However, Wikipedia is not as controversial as popular publicity would lead one to believe. Many academics use it extensively though cautiously themselves, and therefore tend to support a cautious approach to its use by students. However, evidence supports the assertion that there is an implicit if not explicit awareness among academics that Wikipedia, and possibly by extension Web 2.0+, are disruptors of conventional academic power-knowledge arrangements. Practical implications - It is clear that academics respond differently to the disruptive effects that Web 2.0+has on the political economy of academic knowledge construction. Contrary to popular reports, responses to Wikipedia are not overwhelmingly focused on resistance but encompass both cautious and creative acceptance. It is becoming equally clear that the increasing uptake of Web 2.0+in higher education makes it inevitable that academics will have to address the political consequences of this reframing of the ownership and control of academic knowledge production. Originality/value - The paper demonstrates originality and value by providing a unique, evidence-based insight into the different ways in which academics respond to Wikipedia as an archetypal Web 2.0+application and by positioning Web 2.0+within the political economy of academic knowledge construction.

[edit] Research questions

"This paper draws on an empirical research project to provide better evidence about the attitude of academics towards the use of Wikipedia and by extension Web 2.0+in undergraduate education. Issues around accuracy of content form the basis of an exploration of deeper issues around form and process. The core premise of this paper is that the actual cause of any apprehension about Wikipedia lies at a deeper, epistemological level. A more critical reading of the Wikipedia phenomenon in relation to higher education suggests the real concern is about the form of Wikipedia as a new knowledge construction process, and by extension, as the iconic representative of new and uncontrollable Web 2.0+collaborative knowledge production environments. This paper is, in the end, interested in the views and experiences academics have regarding Wikipedia, primarily to ascertain how these views and experiences might influence their perceptions about, and use of, other Web 2.0+applications that appear to disrupt traditional power-knowledge arrangements."

Research details

Topics: Epistemology, Knowledge source for scholars and librarians, Reader perceptions of credibility, Cross-domain student readership [edit item]
Domains: Education [edit item]
Theory type: Explanation [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "Given the exploratory nature of this project, data collection consisted of a convenience sample of academic staff from seven invited universities: four in Australia, and one each in Canada, the UK and South Africa. An online survey instrument using “SurveyMonkey’ featured a predominantly quantitative question bank with qualitative questions in line with a grounded theory framework (Strauss, 1990). Regarding the reliability of internet data collection methods, research by Gosling et al. found that:

… the data provided by Internet methods are of at least as good quality as those provided by traditional paper-and-pencil methods. […] Web-questionnaire results […] are, so far, consistent with results from traditional methods [and] are not as flawed as is commonly believed (Gosling et al., 2004, p. 102)." [edit item]

Research design: Statistical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Survey responses [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Not specified [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"The data by and large demonstrate that Wikipedia continues to be a divisive issue among academics, particularly within the “soft sciences”. However, Wikipedia is not as controversial as popular publicity would lead one to believe. Many academics use it extensively though cautiously themselves, and therefore tend to support a cautious approach to its use by students. However, evidence supports the assertion that there is an implicit if not explicit awareness among academics that Wikipedia, and possibly by extension Web 2.0+, are disruptors of conventional academic power-knowledge arrangements."

[edit] Comments

"Wikipedia continues to be a divisive issue among academics, particularly within the “soft sciences; Many academics use it extensively yet cautiously and assert its disruption along with other Web 2.0 technologies of conventional academic power-knowledge arrangements."


Further notes[edit]

The publisher title is "Academics and Wikipedia: reframing Web 2.0+as a disruptor of traditional academic power-knowledge arrangements", but for technical MediaWiki reasons, this page is use "Web 2.0 as" instead of "Web 2.0+as" in its title.