The Most Influential Medical Journals According to Wikipedia: Quantitative Analysis

26 January, 2019

With thanks to Irina Ibraghimova and LRC Network.

Citation and abstract below. Full text here:

CITATION: Jemielniak D, Masukume G, Wilamowski M

The Most Influential Medical Journals According to Wikipedia: Quantitative Analysis

J Med Internet Res 2019;21(1):e11429

DOI: 10.2196/11429

PMID: 30664451


Background: Wikipedia, the multilingual encyclopedia, was founded in 2001 and is the world’s largest and most visited online general reference website. It is widely used by health care professionals and students. The inclusion of journal articles in Wikipedia is of scholarly interest, but the time taken for a journal article to be included in Wikipedia, from the moment of its publication to its incorporation into Wikipedia, is unclear.

Objective: We aimed to determine the ranking of the most cited journals by their representation in the English-language medical pages of Wikipedia. In addition, we evaluated the number of days between publication of journal articles and their citation in Wikipedia medical pages, treating this measure as a proxy for the information-diffusion rate.

Methods: We retrieved the dates when articles were included in Wikipedia and the date of journal publication from Crossref by using an application programming interface.

Results: From 11,325 Wikipedia medical articles, we identified citations to 137,889 journal articles from over 15,000 journals. There was a large spike in the number of journal articles published in or after 2002 that were cited by Wikipedia. The higher the importance of a Wikipedia article, the higher was the mean number of journal citations it contained (top article, 48.13 [SD 33.67]; lowest article, 6.44 [SD 9.33]). However, the importance of the Wikipedia article did not affect the speed of reference addition. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was the most cited journal by Wikipedia, followed by The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. The multidisciplinary journals Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were among the top 10 journals with the highest Wikipedia medical article citations. For the top biomedical journal papers cited in Wikipedia's medical pages in 2016-2017, it took about 90 days (3 months) for the citation to be used in Wikipedia.

Conclusions: We found evidence of “recentism,” which refers to preferential citation of recently published journal articles in Wikipedia. Traditional high-impact medical and multidisciplinary journals were extensively cited by Wikipedia, suggesting that Wikipedia medical articles have robust underpinnings. In keeping with the Wikipedia policy of citing reviews/secondary sources in preference to primary sources, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was the most referenced journal.

J Med Internet Res 2019;21(1):e11429


Best wishes, Neil

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