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On Wikipedia, people sometimes write articles on their research topic or add their results to existing articles (probably in order to increase their visibility). I make this assumption if the Wikipedia user name matches the name of the researcher in some way.

Is this in general considered bad practice? (Note that there is a related question: Wikipedia article about PhD thesis, which is however different, since it concerns publication of results on wikipedia prior to their peer-reviewed publication)

There are some sections in the Wikipedia guidelines, that are important here:

  • What is conflict of interest?: "Subject-matter experts (SMEs) are welcome on Wikipedia within their areas of expertise, subject to the guidance below on financial conflict of interest and on citing your work. SMEs are expected to make sure that their external roles and relationships in their field of expertise do not interfere with their primary role on Wikipedia."
  • Citing yourself: "Using material you have written or published is allowed within reason, but only if it is relevant, conforms to the content policies,(...) and is not excessive. (...) When in doubt, defer to the community's opinion: propose the edit on the article's talk page and allow others to review it. However, adding numerous references to work published by yourself and none by other researchers is considered to be a form of spamming."

Proposing an edit on an article's talk page, however does not work, if you want to write a new article.

In the end, I came up with the following pro and con list:

Pro

  1. You are an expert in your field, and one of the goals of Wikipedia is to share your expertise
  2. You are thus leaving the ivory tower of science and try to explain your research to the people in a less scientific way
  3. People, who are interested in your method, will maybe google it, find Wikipedia and get a brief introduction in addition to the references to main articles

Contra

  1. While there is no obvious financial benefit, there is still some conflict of interest, since the gained visibility can help obtaining research grants etc.
  2. You are quite biased and less likely to add criticism to your own work or unfavorable comparisons to other methods.
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  • 1
    Writing a complete article might fail the "excessive" test.
    – Buffy
    Aug 4 at 12:04
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One of the key concepts at Wikipedia (and also one of the most controversial) is "notability". Wiki guidelines aim to discourage people using the site as a vehicle for self-promotion, and with good reason, but that can sometimes be over-zealously enforced (as with Donna Strickland, whose Wiki page was deleted as non-notable shortly before she won a Nobel...)

Creating an article about your own work is very likely to be interpreted as self-promo, much more so than making improvements to a pre-existing article. At a bare minimum, you will need to provide clear evidence that the topic is important (e.g. coverage by sources not linked to yourself) and be prepared to answer the question "if this is so important, why didn't somebody else already write about it?"

If possible, it might be better to find a broader framing, e.g. instead of creating an article specifically about your work, create or expand on an article about the field, including reference to the work of others.

Depending on the field, there may already be a group of editors who take an interest in that topic. If so, it may be productive to engage with them - "hi, I'm RealName, interested in adding some content about blah blah blah, does this seem reasonable?"

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Anyone, even someone with a conflict of interest, can write a Draft article. It will be reviewed and you need to disclose your connection.

It will initially be a stub if it isn't rejected by the editors. But it won't likely become a full article until others add to it and comment.

Wikipedia isn't a place for monographs and the editorial process will guard against abuse.

You can also "propose" an article for your topic without actually providing content. Again, the editors will make a judgement about putting up a stub.

You can also ask this question directly of the Wikipedia editorial staff through their help/contact pages.


Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Wikimedia, but have made a few edits to Wikipedia articles, one of them a bit substantial. I am not an expert.

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It's not frowned upon. It might not be obvious, but you are free to write whatever you want on Wikipedia as long as it's not obviously bad, and Wikipedia is not likely to object. It's only when the editor who added the material attempts to overrule other editors on what should and should not be kept that Wikipedia starts to object.

If you just write the article and leave it to its fate you're not likely to encounter any issues.

The two cons you mention don't seem like a big deal:

  1. If there is increased visibility, more power to the person who wrote the article, and others should a well.
  2. You might be biased and less likely to add criticism to your own work or unfavorable comparisons to other methods, but if other people think the article is biased + care about it, they will add the relevant criticism or unfavorable comparisons (or they might tag with NPOV).

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