Friday, December 27, 2019

The value of incomplete data - Fellows of the Ecological Society of America

This is about understanding data in Wikidata. The article is about understanding what you can and cannot do with incomplete data, it is not so much about the Ecological Society of America.

The most recent work started with the news of a new Wikipedia article. Prof Cottingham is a 2015 fellow of the esa, there is a category for fellows, adding her and other missing fellows to Wikidata showed that for one fellow there was no Wikipedia article. At the time there were 90 known fellows and for only two it was known when they became a member.

I expected that new fellows would be known to Wikidata not just as an "author string" but that they would be an "item". So I added 14 of the 2019 cohort and found this not to be the case. I then looked up the known fellows from the esa webpage, added their date to Wikidata because I wondered if it were particularly the older fellows that are represented in Wikipedia.

While adding the dates, I added many alternate names to aid disambiguation, I removed one item and found two false friends; fathers mistaken for their son. When I was done, I had a good impression of the data on the website and even though I do not have the full numbers, I feel to be correct in my belief that it is the old ecology/ecologists that are represented in Wikipedia.

When you scrutinize the list of fellows, you will find included "Early Career Fellows", they are "elected for advancing the science of ecology and showing promise for continuing contributions" and they take part for a limited amount of time. Programs like these are known from all over the world and from many science orgs. This time I did not spend time on them but from previous experience I can safely say that promising is putting it mildly.

Wikidata is a wiki and as such, the work that I did is of value even though it is incomplete. I did not add all the missing fellows for instance. The esa is very much an organisation for America (check the employment of its fellows) and it takes pride in global attention and solicits membership fees from all over the world. It takes a lot of additional data when you want to compare if its subject matter is biased towards America and in what way.

For many of the fellows I added, there are papers with "author strings" waiting to be linked to an author. The same can be said for the fellows that are still missing. It can be compared to other ecological organisations but how to deal with the differences takes a completely different understanding. It takes more data to make this possible but the data does not need to be complete, that is the beauty of averages.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Why didn’t @Wikidata have an item on Margaret Nakakeeto, a champion for living babies?

Ed Erhard wrote famously in 2018 "Why didn’t Wikipedia have an article on Donna Strickland, winner of a Nobel Prize?" A year later we can say that it is extremely likely that a Donna Strickland, a Margaret Nakakeeto are known in Wikidata if only because they are a co-author of a paper (technically: an "author string").

When Ed wrote his article, it was to highlight the gender gap we have in Wikipedia. Arguably relevant and important and it needs the attention it gets. However, it does not follow that it is the only "gap" that needs addressing, it even does not follow that the gender gap is the gap with the biggest impact.

When you consider Africa and particularly science in Africa, the subjects that matter in Africa most are reflected in for instance the Scholia for the members of the South African Academy of Science. As far as I now know, its gender ratio is 27% and this is a list with a mix of Wikipedia articles and Wikidata items. It shows the attention African science gets in Wikipedia nicely.

In Africa there is a huge amount of attention for maternal and neonatal care (eg Uganda) and as programs impact the health and survival of women, it follows that more women will become notable, notable for Wikipedia.

By giving attention to female African scientists, the subjects they are known for gain relevance. Their Scholias are developed, including links to co-authors and papers. It will improve the likelihood that when African science awards are announced, we will at least know the recipients in Wikidata.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

#Science and America first

Several US American science organisations are quite adamant that for them, it is America first. Stupidity has its place and these days the United States has a lot of it particularly as those same science organisations expect people from the rest of the world to accept "pre-eminence" of the USA.

There may be good reasons to be a member of these organisations but from my perspective, it is one thing to be with stupid, it is another to have these organisations argue their case on "your" behalf. So when you are a scientist, chances are that we already know you at Wikidata. We may even know about your science, your co-authors, your memberships.

Take for instance Prof Lise Korsten, she is probably South African, this is her Scholia. She has many co-authors and for some we do not know their gender and for most we do not know their nationality. We do not know if she is a member of any science organisation and we do not know that for her co-authors either. So you may add your professional memberships at Wikidata, your nationality and when you do know the nationality of your co-authors, you may add that as well.

In this way we make obvious to US American stupid that science is global.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Disseminate science says @EstherNgumbi, @Wikimedia projects have the power to do just that

In this day and age science is of the utmost importance. When I am pointed to a conference where an African scientist gives the plenary lecture; the message is on display in the picture. I take an interest.

When you want to disseminate research, when you want the science to be known by society, you have to pick your platform. You can do worse than choosing for the Wikimedia projects.

Professor Esther Ngumbi is employed at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Her ORCiD profile has only one paper but at Wikidata we knew of others. As she is now known at Wikidata with her papers, she has a Scholia. At first there was only one co-author, a bit sparse, so others were added. They were linked to the papers they have on Wikidata. The same was done for some authors who cited professor Ngumbi..

When you, your science is known in Wikidata, you are more likely to get a Wikipedia article and yes, working for an American university helps. An ORCiD profile that is open will be even more potent when you trust organisations like your university, CrossRef to update your ORCiD when it knows about your papers, your new papers.

In this day and age where our ecology is no longer stable, it is vital to know and respect the science. While we aim for the best we have to be prepared for the worst; we have to see it coming. It is why our Wikimedia projects should inform about all the science and not just what a Wikipedia article has as a reference.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Jack needs help, so do we and, so do our audiences

Jack penciled his aspirations for Twitter in a tweet. In it he states: "... Second, the value of social media is shifting away from content hosting and removal, and towards recommendation algorithms directing one’s attention. Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives. Yet."

It is good news that Jack seeks a way out, he intends to hire a "small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers" and "Twitter is to become a client of this standard"..

In the Wikimedia projects we have similar challenges and opportunities. We cannot expect for all kinds of reasons that scientists who are very much in the news (aka relevant) there to be a Wikipedia article Dr Tewoldeberhan is a recent example but there is no reason why we cannot have her, her work and the work of any other scientist in Wikidata. With tools like Scholia we already have a significant impact by making more known that just what may be found in a Wikipedia. Jack, we do know many scientists by their Twitter handle, they already make the case for their science on Twitter. This makes it easy for you to link to and expand on Scholia. What we give our readers is more to read so that they can find conformation for what they read.

Jack, Wikidata is not proprietary, Scholia is not proprietary and the Wikimedia motto is "to share in the sum of all knowledge". Together we can shift focus from what we have read before in the Wikipedias to what there is to read on the Internet. Put stuff in context and bring the scientists who care to inform about their science in the limelight.

What we do not have is the pretense that we cover everything well. we do aim to cover everything notable well. What we provide is static, Twitter is much more dynamic and together we will change the landscape. Great technology combined with both the Twitter and Wikimedia communities has the potential of being awesome.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

What is it about Jess Wade?

It is not only that Jess writes Wikipedia articles. Others do as well. It is not only that she engages girls with science; it is why she enthuses about female (STEM) scientists. Others do as well. It is not that only that her tweets engage us with for instance the #PhotoHour, that she wants us to read the (fabulous) books by Angela Saini, she also organises for schools to have Inferior in their library for girls to read and become a scientist as well.. What makes her special is that she engages people to be part of what she communicates so well.

Take me for instance, Jess is on Twitter and I read her daily new article. For the person she writes about I enrich the information on Wikidata and ensure that the "authority control" is set in the Wikipedia article. What I add is award information, authorities, employment and education info. I often add awards and depending on how interesting an award is to me I add other recipients as well.

It is not only me, there are many more people inspired by Jess who get involved, they read the books she champions, donate so that more girls read Inferior, follow her on Twitter, write articles and also get involved, are involved. It all happens because of the enthusiasm that Jess brings to us all. This enthusiasm, the involvement is what I so cherish. When the inevitable naysayers come along it dampens the positivity, the sense that we are making a difference.

When you want to know how important the women she writes about can be, consider Joy Lawn she tweets really effectively as well... It shows how women scientists really effectively communicate the relevance of science. It is vitally important for us to know about the science, the subjects they champion. At that it may be our Jess but actually, it is Dr Jess Wade, she is a scientists first, she promotes science and Wikipedia is a vehicle to get the message out.