Monday, January 23, 2012

CFP: Academic research into Wikipedia: Beyond English Wikipedia and towards comparative perspectives

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Issue 14 call for papers (English, Catalan and Spanish)

Download call for papers:

Deadline for submission of originals: 1 March 2012

Publication date: May 2012

Subject: Academic research into Wikipedia: Beyond English Wikipedia and towards comparative perspectives

This year saw the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia. In 2011, following its creation 10 years ago, Wikipedia became one of the world’s 10 most visited websites and one of the most active virtual communities. It currently has around 20 million articles – 3.7 million of which are in English: the most popular version. It has  some 365 million regular readers, around 90,000 regular editors – all voluntary – and hundreds of thousands of people who contribute anonymously.

Wikipedia is one of the numerous examples of mass online collaboration projects to follow in the footsteps of open-source software production and its modus operandi. Some authors see this new type of collaboration as representing an innovative form of social production, given that it operates on the edges of the market and its rules, functions successfully without many hierarchical organisational structures or command management systems and is developed thanks to the cooperation of thousands – or, in some cases, millions – of geographically dispersed people working voluntarily and without expecting any direct remuneration. The term commons-based peer production was proposed recently to conceptualise this practice (Benkler, 2006).

Since about 2005, there has been growing interest from the scientific community, and in particular from the field of social and human sciences, in researching this historically unprecedented phenomenon. A recent review of the scientific bibliography on Wikipedia has identified over 2,100 scientific articles and 38 doctoral theses with Wikipedia and/or its sister projects as their object of analysis. However, this volume of scientific production has focused excessively on the English version of Wikipedia when Wikipedia is now available in 279 different languages. Consequently, the current bibliography does not pay sufficient attention to the dynamics and peculiarities of versions of Wikipedia in other languages, which makes a comparative analysis showing the contrasts and similarities between the different communities difficult.

The aim of this Digithum issue is to bring together articles that explore all aspects of Wikipedia – and other related projects – which may prove relevant from a social and human science research perspective. As well as the subjects that have been the focus of the scientific studies to date – motivation and type of participants, organisation and governance, regulatory structure, publishing dynamics, content quality and reliability, teaching uses, the role of technology, etc., (Okoli 2009) – proposals for new problems and objects of analysis will also be welcome. The theory and discipline may be linked to any field of social and humanistic research: political science, sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), economics, etc.

Articles should have an empirical basis and use established qualitative or quantitative research methods in social and human sciences. Papers whose empirical focus is on versions other than those in English will be especially welcome and, in particular, those that present comparative studies showing contrasts and similarities between different size projects and/or projects in different languages, including Catalan. However, we will not be excluding papers about the English version.


Benkler, Y. 2006. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom.Yale University Press: Yale.
Lovink, Geert and Nathanel Tracz (eds.). 2011. Critical Point of View. A Wikipedia Reader. Institute of Network Cultures: Amsterdam.
Okoli, C., 2009. A Brief Review of Studies of Wikipedia in Peer-Reviewed Journals. In: 2009 Third International Conference on Digital Society. p 155–160.

Issue coordinators

Eduard Aibar, lecturer, Arts and Humanities department, and IN3 researcher, UOC Mayo Fuster Morell, postdoctoral fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

Publication guidelines

Articles must not exceed 5,000 words and must contain the following information:
+ Title
+ Abstract (200 words) containing the basic aspects and results of the paper.
+ Keywords (between 4 and 6)
+ Body of the article, divided into sections and subsections
+ Bibliography
To ensure a blind review of articles, the following documents should be submitted
+ Author’s details (name and surname, professional affiliation, professional postal address, e-mail)
+ Brief CV (100-200 words) and photograph
Articles may be submitted in Catalan, Spanish and English.
For more information, please visit the Author Guidelines section of the website