Sunday, November 15, 2020

Wikicite from the ground up: "Trophic rewilding"

In nature conservation, trophic rewilding and trophic cascades are important topics. When an animal like the howler monkey is no longer around, it no longer distributes the seeds of trees. The likely effect is that in time plants are no longer part of the ecosystem. Reintroducing a howler monkey restores the relation; it is considered an example of trophic rewilding.

At Wikipedia there is no article about trophic rewilding. As someone famously said, references are the most important part of a Wikipedia article, let's start with finding references.

There is a longstanding process of importing data about scholarly papers, all kinds of scholarly papers. Some of them have "trophic rewilding" in their title. Trophic rewilding was not known as a subject so it was easy enough to look for "trophic rewilding" and add it as a subject. Slowly but surely the Scholia representation evolves. More papers means more authors and more authors known to have collaborated on multiple publications. More citations are found for these papers and by inference they have a relation to the subject.

The initial set of data is already good enough to get a grasp of the subject but when you want more, you can look for missing data using Scholia, information like missing authors. The author disambiguator aids in finding papers for the missing author. With such iterations, the Scholia for trophic rewilding becomes more complete.

Another avenue to improve the coverage of a subject is by adding "cites work" in Wikidata for a paper like this one. Not all cited works are known to Wikidata but the effect can be impressive. NB The citations are often found in a PDF  and not in the article..

Slowly but surely all the scholarly references to be used for a new article are available, you can use a template in the article to link to the (evolving) Scholia. The best bit is you can add this template in an existing Wikipedia article as well providing a scholarly rabbit hole for interested readers.

Thanks, GerardM

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